During this unprecedented time of social distancing and quarantine due to Covid-19, we have the amazing ability to use technology to connect, learn, and be entertained. Many families are also seeking opportunities to engage their children in new online activities and family experiences. Below we have compiled a number of resource lists that provide online opportunities and other activities for children and families. The events range from educational resources to living room concerts by your favorite singers to a Harry Potter escape room.

Take Care of Yourself and Those You Love

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network created a resource to support families coping with the Covid-19 pandemic. The resource “provides information for parents and caregivers about infectious disease outbreaks in your community. Knowing important information about the outbreak and learning how to be prepared can reduce stress and help calm likely anxieties. This resource will help parents and caregivers think about how an infectious disease outbreak might affect their family— both physically and emotionally—and what they can do to help their family cope.” It is available in multiple languages on their website

The Child Mind Institute “is an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the live of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders.” They have created a resource page for supporting families and children during the Covid-19 pandemic. They provide daily parenting tips, resources for supporting young children and teens during the crisis, selfcare for parents, managing your and your child’s anxiety, how to support special populations such as children diagnose with Autism, facebook live chats on these topics with expert clinicians, and a myriad of other resources. Visit them at https://childmind.org/coping-during-covid-19-resources-for-parents/.

Telehealth and telemedicine are becoming more widely available for medical, behavioral health, and psychiatric care during the Covid-19 crisis. Multiple waivers have been issued to allow more widely accessible telehealth options in both NC and the nation as a whole. If you are in need of medical, psychological, or therapeutic services during this time, contact your provider to discuss their telehealth options for continued service provision.

Many child welfare jurisdictions are utilizing video conferencing to safely engage in visitation between foster parents, children and youth, siblings, their social workers, and their biological family members. Visits are extremely important to ensure safety and well-being for children in foster care, but also to maintain connections. During this time of social distancing it is even more important for children and youth who have experienced trauma to know that they can have regular access to the important people in their lives. With many families staying home and school and activities cancelled, this is the perfect time to up your commitment as a foster parent or kinship caregiver and engage in as many video conferencing visits as is safe, approved, and appropriate for the children and youth in your care.

Get Creative

PBS Kids provides a free app and website that allow children and parents to watch a variety of PBS kids shows, play games, and access resources at https://pbskids.org/. You have to create a personal login, but you do not need a cable subscription. They are also providing the option to sign up for a daily emailed newsletter with activities and tips to help kids play and learn at home.

Consider visiting your local (or not so local) zoo via their social media. Zoos around the world including the NC Zoo and the Cincinnati Zoo are doing live Facebook videos featuring specific animals each day. Fiona the Hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo seems to be an especially big social media star lately.

If you have young children and are not participating in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, go register now! Your child receives a book in the mail each month until their 5th birthday from Dolly Parton. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dolly has starting reading books from the Imagination Library every Thursday at 7 pm. The videos are posted each Thursday and then available any time. Learn more about the program and watch the videos at https://imaginationlibrary.com/.

A digital Harry Potter Escape Room !?!?!?! What could be better? This is an online escape room themed after the Harry Potter books (and movies). It is free and was created by the Youth Services Librarian at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, PA.

Many authors and musicians are making their work available digitally through storytelling and concerts on social media. A quick google search of your favorite artists or a visit to their social media pages can get you linked to both one time and regular concerts, stories, art projects, and live media.

This site provides an enormous list of online events and activities for children and families.

Educate Yourself and Your Family

Fosteringnc.org continues to be an excellent resource for foster parents, adoptive parents, and kinship caregivers. It is a free resource provided by the NC Division of Social Services in partnership with the Family and Children’s Resource Program at the UNC School of Social Work and the Center for Family and Community Engagement at NC State University. The site provides online trainings, videos, webinars, podcasts, and resources for foster parents, adoptive parents, and kinship caregivers. Many of the resources can potentially count towards ongoing education hours, just check with your licensing agency first. There are many resources that parents will find helpful and supportive even if they are not caring for children in foster care. Fosteringnc.org an updated link on their website to access Covid-19 resources.

The Fordham Institute, a leading education based think tank and advocacy agency published a compendium of educational resources that have been made available online for free during the Covid-19 pandemic. The list includes educational youtube channels, television shows, podcasts, and online instructional materials.

Many libraries now offer digital media. You can “check out” books via an app for a specific amount of time. Similar to using an e-reader or an e-reader app, but you don’t have to purchase the app or the book. Visit your public library’s website or give them a call to learn more.

Get Outside

Whole Family Rhythms, the work of Meagan Rose Wilson provides guides for establishing a family rhythm and daily structure based on the seasons of the year. The guides are grounded in play-based learning, natural parenting, and Waldorf Education. Each week has a seasonal theme and each day involves a hike or walk, art or cooking activities, and theme based stories. These guides may be a positive source of support for families with young children who are finding themselves struggling with the lack of structure around their days and desire nature based activities and stories. The guides are free for download at https://meaganrosewilson.com/.

Nature isn’t closed!!! Whether it is a daily walk, sidewalk chalk or reading in your driveway, hiking, biking, kicking a ball around, or running through a sprinkler, or just opening a window for a bit of fresh air, the positive effects of activity in the natural world are scientifically proven to lift mood and ease anxiety.

As our social distancing and stay at home orders continue, more and more fun and educational activities and resources are being made available for free. A quick google search for a list of activities, ideas, or resources can provide you with a wealth of new and innovative ways to spend time while you are at home.

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