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Parent calling on Governor to resume small, in-person classes for kids with special needs

by Anne McCloy Friday, May 22nd 2020

ALBANY NY (WRGB) – The cancellation of in-person summer school devastating for a mom whose child has special needs.

Governor Cuomo’s announcement Thursday caused a lot of parents to reach out to us explaining the impacts.

“Last night when I received the message from my son’s teacher, I broke down and I cried.”

CBS 6 viewer Nicole Nelson has kept her kids home and out of daycare since the shutdown began in March, but she was hopeful the state would resume programs her 4-year-old son Billy relies on this summer. Billy is on the autism spectrum.

“My son has been out of services since we went “on pause” in March and that’s going to be a full 6 months of doing Zooms and virtual therapy and that doesn’t really work for him so it’s just totally devastating,” Nelson said.

Nicole Nelson was hopeful the state would resume programs her 4-year-old son Billy relies on this summer. (WRGB PROVIDED

The cancellation of in-person summer school also meant the cancellation of Billy’s Individualized Education Program, which is specialized for each student and helps with speech and other needs.

“My son has been receiving services since he was 6-months-old so for services to just stop in-person its caused a great regression,” Nelson said.

Day care is still allowed, considered an essential business. The Office of Children and Family Services says 70 percent of the state’s day cares are still up and running. Nelson says it doesn’t make sense to her why a day care can stay open, but her child’s small class with 6 kids, two teachers and 1 aid can’t resume with social distancing measures.

“The only reason we would even consider putting our son into school is because it’s just a smaller classroom, less people and if you did it the right way you can do it safely,” Nelson said.

The cancellation of in-person summer school also meant the cancellation of Billy’s Individualized Education Program, which is specialized for each student and helps with speech and other needs. (WRGB PROVIDED)

She’s says if she could speak to Governor Cuomo she would ask him to re-consider opening special needs programs.

“Not all children are alike and some kids needs more than other kids do,” Nelson said.

Day cares are operating under guidelines set forth by the NYS Department of health and the CDC.

For parents who need childcare as New York State reopens, an OCFS spokeswoman sent CBS 6 links that help parents find day cares that are open near them:

Database here: https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/looking.asp

‘Your Child Is So Lucky To Have You As A Parent’: Local Special Education Teacher Writes Pandemic Parenting Guide

By Brenda Waters | May 21, 2020 at 7:56 pm

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s been a rough few months for parents. Schools, parks, playgrounds — all closed.

For many parents during the age of COVID-19, home is now the classroom, the office and the center of entertainment.

Dr. Rachel Schwartz, a special education teacher and consultant for the Watson Institute has written an article called “Thoughts for Families in a Hard Time.” She went over a few points with KDKA’s Brenda Waters.

“Connect” was at the top of the list. She says when things get tough people tend to want to pull in, grit their teeth and bear it. But she says that’s not a good idea. She says parents need to reach out — to other resources, to the community, to their church.

“Routine” is another point.

“The routine is that we live our life following routines, all of us do. Our children have routines and now with covid, all of that was blown out of the water. Now we need to establish a new routine.”

Dr. Schwartz says parents also need to focus on what is most important at the moment and if you children act out, don’t take it personally, they too are dealing with difficult times.

The next one may be a little tough and that is “relax.” But that’s what Dr. Schwartz wants parents to adhere to the most.

“You are everything your child needs. Your child is so lucky to have you as a parent, you are giving them love, the best academia, all of the things they need right now,” she says.

Dr. Schwartz says she wanted to make these points now during National Mental Health Month.

Poll: Minority and low-income parents most worried about their students’ success

Lorraine Longhi, Arizona RepublicPublished 7:33 p.m. MT May 20, 2020 | Updated 7:51 a.m. MT May 21, 2020

About four in 10 Arizona parents believe the state’s management of K-12 education was good or excellent amid the coronavirus health pandemic, according to a new ASU Morrison Institute-Arizona Republic poll.

K-12 school administration received the highest positive rating of any other government entity listed, including federal, state, local and tribal.

The online survey was conducted in late April and early May. Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman ordered schools closed on March 15 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

District, charter and private schools quickly converted to remote learning. Some provided students with printouts, while others moved to virtual lessons and emailed work. 

Impact on low-income students

The poll highlights a divide between lower-income and higher-income families when it comes to accessing the necessary technology for online learning.

Parents with children from low-income families polled were less likely to say that their children have the necessary technology for online learning.

Low-income families were also less likely to say that their children are actively engaged in online learning.

In contrast, parents of children from higher-income brackets were more concerned that their child will fall behind in school and that COVID-19 will compromise the likelihood their child will graduate high school.

Richie Taylor, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Education, said that the findings came as no surprise. He said low-income families and the schools that serve them are at more of a disadvantage when it comes to accessing technology and resources that make it easier to pivot to online learning.

“That’s why it’s so critical to provide support and resources to fill those gaps we know exist,” he said.

During the past two months, some schools got creative to help their students. A Tucson district parked buses with WiFi around the city so students could access assignments. Others reached out to nonprofits to help purchase additional laptops for students. 

State leaders asked businesses to donate hotspots and laptops to help students.

As schools tentatively prepare to reopen in the fall, Taylor said they will depend heavily on money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to fill in some of the educational gaps.

The CARES Act will allocate approximately $13.2 billion in emergency relief funds to state governments to support K-12 students whose educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus. 

“CARES Act funding ishugely important to mitigate some of the challenge we faced,” Taylor said. “We want to be able to provide for the needs of families and students.”Get the Law & Order newsletter in your inbox.

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Different ages, neighborhoods, ethnicity

The online Morrison-Republic poll was conducted from April 24 through May 7. It included 813 Arizona residents census balanced by age, gender, ethnicity, and location.

Of those, 287 were parents with at least one child living at home. The margin of error was plus or minus 6 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

At the time of the survey, 16% of respondents indicated they would feel comfortable sending their kids back to school immediately following the lifting of restrictions.

Among the general population of parents polled:

  • 75% said their children had the necessary technology to engage in online learning.
  • 67% said their children were actively engaged in learning.
  • 57% were satisfied with the educational opportunities being offered.
  • 53% were worried that children would fall behind.
  • 43% were concerned that COVID-19 would impact their child’s ability to graduate.

Parents of older students expressed less confidence that their children were staying engaged in online learning than those of younger students.

Of the parents with at least one child in elementary school, 69% said they agreed that their children were engaged, compared to 55% of parents polled with a child in high school.

The opposite was true when parents were asked whether they were worried their child might fall behind in school.

Among parents with children in elementary school, 58%worried that their child would fall behind, compared to 46% of parents polled with a child in high school.

Black parents polled were more concerned about their children falling behind than white or Hispanic parents. Of those polled, 67% of black parents said they were worried, compared to 44% of white parents and 63% of Hispanic parents. 

Hispanic parents were the most concerned about whether COVID-19 would decrease their child’s likelihood of graduating high school. Of those polled, 49% of Hispanic parents said they were concerned, compared to 38% of black parents and 28% of white parents.

Parents who did not have a high school degree reported less concern about students falling behind as a result of the stay-at-home order when compared to parents with some college or a higher degree.

A parent’s neighborhood also impacted how individuals polled responded.

While 61% of parents who lived in an urban neighborhood indicated they were satisfied with the educational opportunities being offered by their school, only 47% of parents in suburban neighborhoods were satisfied.

10 Years Old, Tearful and Confused After a Sudden Deportation

Since the coronavirus broke out, the Trump administration has deported hundreds of migrant children alone — in some cases, without notifying their families.

Sandra Rodríguez with her son Gerson, 10.
Sandra Rodríguez with her son Gerson, 10.Credit…via Sandra Rodriguez

By Caitlin Dickerson | May 20, 2020Updated 3:13 p.m. ET

The last time Sandra Rodríguez saw her son Gerson, she bent down to look him in the eye. “Be good,” she said, instructing him to behave when he encountered Border Patrol agents on the other side of the river in the United States, and when he was reunited with his uncle in Houston.

The 10-year-old nodded, giving his mother one last squinty smile. Tears caught in his dimples, she recalled, as he climbed into a raft and pushed out across the Rio Grande toward Texas from Mexico, guided by a stranger who was also trying to reach the United States.

Ms. Rodríguez expected that Gerson would be held by the Border Patrol for a few days and then transferred to a government shelter for migrant children, from which her brother in Houston would eventually be able to claim him. But Gerson seemed to disappear on the other side of the river. For six frantic days, she heard nothing about her son — no word that he had been taken into custody, no contact with the uncle in Houston.

Finally, she received a panicked phone call from a cousin in Honduras who said that Gerson was with her. The little boy was crying and disoriented, his relatives said; he seemed confused about how he had ended up back in the dangerous place he had fled.

Hundreds of migrant children and teenagers have been swiftly deported by American authorities amid the coronavirus pandemic without the opportunity to speak to a social worker or plea for asylum from the violence in their home countries — a reversal of years of established practice for dealing with young foreigners who arrive in the United States.

The deportations represent an extraordinary shift in policy that has been unfolding in recent weeks on the southwestern border, under which safeguards that have for decades been granted to migrant children by both Democratic and Republican administrations appear to have been abandoned.

Historically, young migrants who showed up at the border without adult guardians were provided with shelter, education, medical care and a lengthy administrative process that allowed them to make a case for staying in the United States. Those who were eventually deported were sent home only after arrangements had been made to assure they had a safe place to return to.

That process appears to have been abruptly thrown out under President Trump’s latest border decrees. Some young migrants have been deported within hours of setting foot on American soil. Others have been rousted from their beds in the middle of the night in U.S. government shelters and put on planes out of the country without any notification to their families.

The Trump administration is justifying the new practices under a 1944 law that grants the president broad power to block foreigners from entering the country in order to prevent the “serious threat” of a dangerous disease. But immigration officials in recent weeks have also been abruptly expelling migrant children and teenagers who were already in the United States when the pandemic-related order came down in late March.

Since the decree was put in effect, hundreds of young migrants have been deported, including some who had asylum appeals pending in the court system.

Some of the young people have been flown back to Central America, while others have been pushed back into Mexico, where thousands of migrants are living in filthy tent camps and overrun shelters.

In March and April, the most recent period for which data was available, 915 young migrants were expelled shortly after reaching the American border, and 60 were shipped home from the interior of the country.

During the same period, at least 166 young migrants were allowed into the United States and afforded the safeguards that were once customary. But in another unusual departure, Customs and Border Protection has refused to disclose how the government was determining which legal standards to apply to which children.

“We just can’t put it out there,” said Matthew Dyman, a public affairs specialist with the agency, citing concerns that human smugglers would exploit the information to traffic more people into the country if they knew how the laws were being applied.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration extended the stepped-up border security that allows for young migrants to be expelled at the border, saying the policy would remain in place indefinitely and be reviewed every 30 days.

Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said the policy had been “one of the most critical tools the department has used to prevent the further spread of the virus and to protect the American people, D.H.S. front-line officers and those in their care and custody from Covid-19.”

An agency spokesman said its policies for deporting children from within the interior of the country had not changed.

Amid Mr. Trump’s efforts to block migrants from seeking refuge in the United States, the administration has been scrutinized especially for its treatment of the most vulnerable among them — children.

Beginning in 2017, the government traumatized thousands of children by separating them from their parents at the border. Administration officials have also left young migrants to languish in filthy Border Patrol holding cells with no adult supervision and argued in court that the children were not legally entitled to toothbrushes or soap.

Democratic members of Congress argue that the swift deportations taking place now violate the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a 20-year-old federal law that lays out standards for the treatment of foreign children who arrive at the American border without an adult guardian.

In a letter last month to Mr. Wolf, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said the moves had “no known precedent or clear legal rationale.”

Immigrant advocates say their pleas for help ensuring that the children have somewhere safe to go when they land have been ignored. Since the coronavirus was first discovered in the United States in January, 239 unaccompanied minors have been returned to Guatemala, and 183 have been returned to Honduras, according to government figures.

“The fact that nobody knows who these kids are and there are hundreds of them is really terrifying,” said Jennifer Nagda, policy director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. “There’s no telling if they’ve been returned to smugglers or into harm’s way.”

Some minors have been deported overnight despite an Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy that says they should be repatriated only during daylight hours.

Before daybreak one morning late last month, Pedro Buezo Romero, 16, was taken from his bed in a shelter in New York and told to pack a suitcase so he could be taken to a court appearance in Florida.

Instead, the teenager ended up on four flights over two days. He was able to sleep for a few hours in a hotel room in Miami shared by three adult employees of a private security company hired to transport him and two other migrant teenagers.

Only before boarding his final flight to Honduras from Texas did the adults reveal to Pedro that he was being deported. When he arrived in Honduras, he had to borrow the cellphone of an immigration official to ask his cousin for a place to stay.

Pedro’s mother has not been seen since the shelter in Mexico where they had been staying together was ransacked by gang members. He and his mother were separated during the ordeal, after which Pedro decided to cross the border alone.

While Pedro was in transit, his lawyers had worked frantically to try to locate him but did not receive any response from the federal government. “There were two or three days we had no idea where he was,” said Katty Vera de Fisher, a supervising migration counselor for Catholic Charities of New York.

Pedro Buezo Romero with his mother. Pedro said he was even more vulnerable now than he was when he decided to leave for the United States.
Pedro Buezo Romero with his mother. Pedro said he was even more vulnerable now than he was when he decided to leave for the United States.Credit…via Pedro Buezo Romero

Some of the children who have been expelled from the United States were previously ordered deported. But historically, even children with prior deportation orders have been given new opportunities to request asylum if they entered the United States again. Now, that appears to have changed.

Lawyers representing children threatened with deportation say they are having to engage in 11th-hour legal maneuvers to try to prevent deportations from happening.

Last week, Hannah Flamm, an immigration lawyer in New York, had only hours to try to stop the repatriation of a 14-year-old client after learning the girl had been booked by ICE on a 3 a.m. flight to Honduras.

The girl’s family had not been notified of her imminent arrival. Ms. Flamm managed to secure an emergency stay of the deportation at 11:47 p.m., at which point the girl was allowed to go back to sleep in the shelter where she was staying.

Ricardo Rodríguez Galo, the uncle of the 10-year-old boy who was deported this month, said he was shocked to learn that Gerson had been sent back to Honduras alone.

Mr. Rodríguez said he worried about the boy’s safety in Honduras, where his sister’s former partner had beaten the boy and his mother and withheld food from them. Mr. Rodríguez also wondered about the judgment of American authorities who chose to put a child on a plane without notifying any of his family members, including those who had been waiting in the United States to take the boy into their home.

“I’m not going to tell you that we were going to shower him with riches,” Mr. Rodríguez said. “We’re poor, but we were going to fight to support him. We were going to welcome him like he deserved.”

Kirk Semple contributed reporting.

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Experts offer advice to help parents ‘manage the meltdowns’ during time at home with kids

by Ashley Gooden | Monday, May 18th 2020

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBMA) — Since school has been out, many children have started to grow anxious and irritable with having to stay at home so much. ABC 33/40 is getting help from experts to help manage the meltdowns.

Kiara Harris is the parent of a 5 year-old, and as you can imagine, her son, Noah, is getting a little antsy staying at home.

“We’re accustomed to going to jump parks or to indoor playgrounds and he doesn’t quite understand why he can’t go outside and play on the playground and he’s made a few comments like he misses school or he wants to have fun this weekend. So, it’s been really odd for both of us because he can’t get out the energy he’s accustomed to getting out,” says Harris.

Things are a little odd for most parents right now… Many kids are more irritable, and it’s not their fault.

“I feel bad that there isn’t that much we can do,” says Harris.

Doctors say there are a couple of things parents can do while at home like noticing if the irritability is coming from them or the child, and also realizing changes in behavior that are out of the ordinary.

“For most children what you’re going to be noticing is a normal reaction to the circumstances, basic support, finding ways to help them cope, creating activities, help them find ways to creatively stay in touch with their friends,” says Dr. Dan Marullo, a psychologist at Children’s of Alabama.

Marullo says tummy aches, headaches, and other aches and pains can be a sign of emotional distress.

Dr. Amin Gilani, a psychiatrist associated with Brookwood Baptist Medical Center says now more than ever your children are watching you to see how they should behave.

“There will be long term consequences of the isolation, social distancing, the whole pandemic thing, and parents are consuming all the news from all of the sources and the amount of stress and amount of reaction parents are going through will determine how badly their kids will be effected,” says Gilani.

Gilani also recommends paying attention to how much your child is online, he says there should be a maximum of 4 hours spent in front of a screen.

He mentions there could be much difficulty for children, when it comes to heading back to school.

“So it’s going to be an extreme level of emotion. Some kids will be too happy and some will be too scared and that is not a good sign. I would be very careful and talk to your kids, be like hey I know we had a long break, we didn’t go outside, but in the august, you may have to go back to school,” says Gilani.

If you’d like an additional resource to help walk you through how to cope with difficulties you may be facing at home with your children, you can call Children’s of Alabama’s free confidential phone response center that links adult callers to mental health resources for children and teens.

That number is 205-638-PIRC (7472).

Parent depression linked to reduced empathy, putting kids at risk for adverse outcomes

by Joan Brasher May. 18, 2020, 12:16 PM

Parents with greater depression symptoms report experiencing less empathy—even toward their own children, according to a new Vanderbilt report published in PLOS ONE. This phenomenon could lead to significant long-term negative impacts for these children, the researchers say.

“Feeling understood and accepted is important for everyone, but especially in the context of the parent–child relationship,” said senior author Kathryn L. Humphreys, assistant professor of psychology at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development. “Research studies find that when children don’t receive empathic responses from caregivers, they tend to have a wide variety of negative outcomes, including elevated physiological responses to stress, increased risk for psychiatric disorders, especially depression, and decreased empathy toward others.”

The findings may be particularly pertinent during the current COVID-19 outbreak, a time when depression and anxiety are on the rise as parents struggle to balance health and financial concerns with isolation, working from home and caring for (and educating) their young children.

“Our findings may help to explain why parents with depression are more likely to engage in negative parenting behaviors, such as withdrawal or hostility, and reduced positive parenting behaviors, like sensitivity, engagement and warmth,” said lead author Virginia Salo, a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt. “Depression doesn’t just affect the person who is experiencing it.”

Kathryn L. Humphreys (Vanderbilt)
Kathryn L. Humphreys (Vanderbilt

“A parent’s difficulty identifying and connecting with a child’s emotions is particularly concerning during these turbulent times.”
–Kathryn L. Humphreys

Humphreys says that parents experiencing depression are more likely to struggle with fatigue and irritability, making even routine family-centric activities like reading together, preparing meals and playing games, more difficult. These activities are important because they can build emotional connection, boost learning and enhance language skills.

“A parent’s difficulty identifying and connecting with a child’s emotions is particularly concerning during these turbulent times when children’s worlds are being disrupted and parents are the primary source for providing a sense of safety,” Humphreys said.

Across the world population, more than 300 million people are estimated to experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. Among adults in the United States alone the lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder is approximately 21 percent.

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A Working Parent’s Guide To Paid Family Leave In The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Kelly Anne Smith | Forbes Staff | Advisor Contributor Group Personal Finance

Middle Aged Women working from home in office whilst also looking after her young daugther.
If you’re struggling to balance child care and working from home, you might be eligible for paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. GETTY

The coronavirus pandemic is reshaping what’s been known as normal life.

As families start to grapple with a new reality, that may mean having to spend more time at home with children as summer camps, daycares and schools could remain closed for the foreseeable future. Without child care, working parents are left to figure out how they might balance work and taking care of their children at the same time.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was created to expand paid leave options for employees effective from April 2 through December 31, 2020. The temporary rule provides a range of assistance measures, but most importantly, it provides a safety net to working parents who are unable to find child care due to COVID-19-related reasons. The FFCRA offers employees up to 12 weeks of partial paid leave to tend to their children. Businesses whose employees take this leave pay for it through a refundable tax credit administered by the Department of Treasury. 

Here’s what you need to know.

Details on Expanded Paid Family Leave in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Paid family leave could be crucial for parents who are struggling to figure out how to balance work and childcare, especially if their summer camp or childcare plans fall through due to COVID-19 restrictions. Today In: Personal Finance

If you find yourself in that situation, you might be entitled to paid family leave. The FFCRA, signed into law on March 18, significantly expands the amount of family and medical leave certain employers are required to offer during the COVID-19 crisis. The provisions are in effect through the end of this year and apply to private businesses with fewer than 500 employees (however, businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from offering the paid leave under certain conditions) and certain public employers.

Parents can receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave by combining relief available in two separate pieces of legislation, which are both part of the FFCRA: the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (EMFLEA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). These two regulations work together to provide paid leave for individuals dealing with school or child care unavailability due to COVID-19 related reasons.

Here’s how it works:

  • Workers can receive two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave under EPSLA at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay when they are unable to work because they are caring for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19.
  • Workers can receive 12 weeks of family and medical leave under EMFLEA because their child’s school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19. The first two weeks of this period will be unpaidbut you can use the two weeks of paid sick leave listed above, or elect to use accrued vacation or sick days from your employer, to cover that two-week gap. The remaining 10 weeks of leave under the EMFLEA will be paid at at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay.

In total, combining the various provisions made available in the FFCRA allow working parents (who qualify) to take a total of three months of leave at partial pay.

Important Rules About the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act

Expanded paid leave as offered under the EFMLEA portion of the FFCRA is helpful to many. But there are caveats that workers should be aware of before they jump on the opportunity to use it. Keep these rules in mind:

  • Your employer has to have work for you in order for you to be eligible for the leave. You are only eligible for the leave if caring for your son or daughter actually takes you away from completing your work. If your employer is closed, or you’re furloughed, you cannot take 12 weeks of expanded paid sick and family leave under the FFCRA. Instead, you would be eligible for unemployment.
  • You have to be employed for at least 30 calendar days to qualify for the additional 10 weeks of paid family leave. If you were let go during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, and are now back on payroll, you’ll have to be employed for at least a month before you’re eligible for the expanded paid family leave. However, all employees are eligible for the initial two weeks of expanded paid sick leave, regardless of how long they’ve been employed.  
  • If you can only work a few days a week because you need to care for your children certain days, you can take intermittent leave. For example, if you’re working from home and need to be offline Wednesday and Friday each week to care for your children, that time away from work is eligible for paid family leave. This only applies if the employer and employee agree to the arrangement, so be sure to speak with your employer before settling on this option.
  • Your two-thirds rate of pay will be capped at $200 per day and $12,000 total over the 12-week period. If you’re a high earner, this could significantly cut down how much you can earn over the 12-week period. Be sure to first exhaust any accrued paid sick leave or vacation days, if possible, so you can still receive full pay. 
  • If you work part-time, your pay will be calculated based on the average number of hours you work over a two-week period. But if your work schedule is irregular, and you’ve been employed for at least six months, your pay will be equal to 14 times the average number of hours you were scheduled to work each calendar day over the six-month period.
  • If your employer has less than 50 employees, it can opt out of giving you paid family leave. If giving paid leave to employees due to school or child care closings would “jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern,” according to the law, then these smaller businesses are not required to give employees paid leave through the FFCRA.
  • If you’ve already taken time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the current 12-month year, the time you can take off under the EFMLEA will be reduced by that amount. For example, if you took five weeks of FMLA in January, and now need to take EFMLEA, you can only take seven of the total 12 weeks of leave.
  • You need to notify your employer about taking leave. When taking paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave to care for your child, you’ll have to provide documentation to your employer stating that’s the reason. Your documentation should include the name of the child you’re caring for, the school or childcare provider that has closed or is unavailable because of COVID-19, and a statement explaining that no one else is available to care for your child during your requested period of leave.  

What If You’re Not Eligible for Paid Leave Provided by the FFCRA?

If you have been furloughed and aren’t eligible for paid family leave provided by the FFCRA, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has expanded unemployment benefits to cover individuals in this situation.

Pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) extends unemployment benefits to individuals who don’t typically qualify for state unemployment. PUA covers workers who are unemployed, partially unemployed or are unable to work for COVID-19-related reasons starting on or after January 27 (payments are retroactive to that date, meaning if you met the criteria on that date but didn’t file until later, you’ll still be paid for the days in between). According to U.S. Department of Labor guidelines, individuals who are still employed but cannot work because of a school closure or summer care closure due to COVID-19 may also qualify for PUA. 

Individuals who qualify for PUA can receive up to 39 weeks of benefits; the amount you receive will depend on how your state calculates unemployment benefits, but will likely be based on your past income. Individuals who receive PUA are also eligible for an additional $600 per week in benefits under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUB) program, which is part of the CARES Act. As of now, the additional $600 per week is available through the end of July.

Unemployment insurance is a joint effort between the federal government and states. Individuals interested in receiving PUA will need to apply through their state’s unemployment insurance website. 

Bottom Line

While FFCRA gives workers expanded paid leave options, there are important stipulations to keep in mind when considering them. Contact your employer directly for more information about expanded paid family leave under the FFCRA and to discuss if it’s the right option for you.

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The ultimate parents’ guide to education and activity resources

By Washington Post Staff | APRIL 28, 2020  

We already know the bad news: Bored kids, harried parents, days when time slows to a standstill. Here’s the good news: Museums, libraries, arts organizations, private companies, celebrities and many others are stepping up and creating online content for kids or offering free access to existing resources. Many more online portals and entertaining apps have been with us all along but never seemed more relevant. To give parents a sense of what’s out there, we’ve compiled resources in 10 categories: education, travel, reading, mental wellness, music, art, physical activity, theater and dance, languages and entertainment. So don’t just sit there — learn how to wrap a mummy, take a virtual train ride, conjugate Spanish verbs or watch a Metropolitan Opera performance. Just because time is at a standstill doesn’t mean you have to be.

Don’t see your go-to resource? We will be periodically updating this list; feel free to leave recommendations in the comments.


Disappearing into a good book is a welcome escape from the stress and chaos of daily life — even when there isn’t a pandemic. Reading is beneficial for people in all age groups, but it’s essential for children: It develops and strengthens vocabulary, social and emotional intelligence, curiosity, memory, concentration and brain function. Happily, numerous organizations are offering free worksheets, games and exercises to help budding readers build basic skills. Kids eager to tell their own stories can join children’s authors’ free writing classes. And for those times when parents need a break (or a great story), kids can join librarians, authors and actors for recorded story times or dive into a wealth of free audiobook links.

  • “Read & Learn with Simon Kids” is a new video series hosted on the Simon Kids YouTube channel. Parents and educators can find self-shot videos by Simon & Schuster authors and illustrators, including read-alouds, drawing tutorials and more.
  • “Snack & Read Live with Simon Kids” is a half-hour video series that streams live on Facebook every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. Eastern.
  • Story Online features actors — including Lily Tomlin, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine and more — reading children’s books alongside colorful illustrated videos.
  • Audible offers free streaming of some of its audiobooks. Books are classified by age and theme.
  • The Library of Congress has numerous classic literature titles available free to download, including “Alice in Wonderland,” “Anne of Green Gables,” “The Jungle Book” and many more. There are pages with suggested titles for kids, teens, adults and educators. Plus, the website has links to numerous taped author webcasts from Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Toni Morrison and many more. Author Jason Reynolds is sharing twice-weekly videos with creative writing prompts for young readers to tell their own stories, and Dav Pilkey, author and illustrator of the “Captain Underpants” series, is sharing downloadable activities and videos on drawing. For older readers, the National Book Festival Blog will feature videos of author appearances categorized by topic each weekday.
  • Dolly Parton, singer-songwriter and founder of the international literacy and book-gifting organization Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, is reading comforting bedtime stories for kids once a week on her YouTube page in a free 10-week series called “Goodnight with Dolly.” Readings are at 7 p.m. Eastern on Thursdays. The Imagination Library website includes activity sheets and parent guides for each reading.
  • The Folger Shakespeare Library’s educational resources for kids include audio recordings of William Shakespeare’s plays, podcasts, videos and more.
  • Harper Collins has curated content and programs to help with reading, including daily live-streamed story times, a podcast about classic literature, and more.
  • The Royal Shakespeare Company is offering learning activities for kids, including games, scripts and more, related to William Shakespeare’s plays.
  • Author Kelly Yang is hosting free writing classes for teens every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3 to 3:30 p.m. Eastern time on her Instagram page. Lessons have included how to build characters, scenes, pacing, dialogue and more. Past classes are on her personal website.
  • LeVar Burton from “Reading Rainbow” is live-streaming himself reading family-friendly books every week, with children’s books Mondays at noon Eastern time, young-adult selections Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Eastern and books for adults Fridays at 9 p.m. Eastern.
  • Listen to a collection of short stories translated into languages from around the world on the World Stories website.
  • Logic of English is offering free online games and literacy lessons, with written and video instructions for each game.
  • The D.C. Public Library is holding virtual story times on weekdays on Facebook with its librarians. Residents of suburban Maryland and Virginia are also eligible for a card that will allow them to access all of DCPL’s online resources, including ASL lessons.
  • New York Public Library’s “At Home Storytime Guides,” which were designed by the library’s early-literacy team, pair early-reader books with fun activities so parents can host read-alouds at home. The library also offers numerous remote-learning resources for patrons of all ages, including age-appropriate story times every weekday for younger readers and remote homework help and test prep for older readers. Some resources, such as online tutoring, require a New York library card to access.
  • The Children’s Poetry Archive, a subsidiary site of the England-based Poetry Archive, collects audio recordings of poems written for children.
  • Into the Book, from PBS Wisconsin, is offering activities in English and Spanish for early readers to explore literacy concepts such as visualizing and inferring. You must register for a free account to access the activities.
  • Storynory’s database of online audiobooks for young readers includes original short stories, fairy tales, poems and more.
  • This list from Reading Connects Us helps young readers find authors or illustrators who are open to communicating through snail mail, email, social media or their individual websites.
  • Waterford.org has a list of websites with free audiobooks available for kids, including Spotify, Audible, OverDrive and LibriVox.
  • Young learners can build and learn reading basics through fun, colorful, free games on Teach Your Monster to Read’s website.
  • Michelle Obama is reading children’s stories every Monday at noon Eastern time on the PBS Kids Facebook page.


Ever since schools started closing amid the coronavirus crisis, the Internet has exploded with videos, educational apps and documentaries to help kids learn (and help parents get some work done). But before jumping into the world of wonderful online resources, home-schooling experts recommend taking a breath. Create the kind of environment, schedule and home life that can best balance your responsibilities with peaceful learning. And then pick one, two or three of these vetted resources that you think will match your kids’ interests and educational needs.

Pre-K through elementary:

  • PBS Kids provides games, activities and tips for emotions and self-awareness, social skills, character, literacy, math, science and arts for ages 2 through 8.
  • Education.comWorksheets have their place. Print what might help you get through a conference call for prekindergarten and elementary school kids: dot-to-dots, handwriting practice, math equations, geography quizzes, color-by-numbers and more. The site also offers online games and guided lesson plans.
  • Mystery Science is offering a starter list of K-5 science classes free, without requiring users to sign up or log in.
  • SplashLearn invites kids to grow the math skills learned in kindergarten through fifth grade with an app full of math games. The iPhone and iPad app provides parents with weekly report cards and costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year; the PC version is free.
  • Young Writer’s Blueprint gives kids the opportunity to beef up their creative writing skills through this short course taught by author Alice Kuipers.
  • Scholastic Story Starters are creative prompts to help kids get started with writing. They include options in adventure, science fiction and fantasy.
  • The National Wildlife Federation’s Ranger Rick site offers free, online nature-themed kids’ activities (games, videos, crafts) and access to monthly educators’ guides.
  • The Washington Nationals are providing free online activities to help kids in grades 1 through 6 with reading, STEM skills and staying physically active. Baseball-themed activities include practicing a pitching stance and calculating a fielding percentage.
  • The Washington Post’s very own KidsPost page is full of educational stories, quizzes, contests, galleries and crafting how-tos. Subjects include current events, sports, animals and space. Kids can submit their own weather art for the print page, too.

Pre-K through teens:

  • Scholastic Learn-at-Home has put together four weeks of resources for grades pre-K through 9, with a theme for each day. For instance, a first-grader might read a story about a spider, watch a video and then draw their own spider. Older grades also get writing prompts.
  • NatGeo@Home groups together quizzes, videos, science experiments and at-home classroom resources for kids to complete during the week. There are also activities for kids and their parents to do together on the weekends.
  • WideOpenSchool, hosted by Common Sense Media, gathers resources from Scholastic, Noggin, Google, YouTube, PBS, National Geographic and more to provide learning in many areas — science, social studies, math, life skills, arts, writing — in an organized fashion for kids in grades pre-K through 12.
  • BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. offer lessons via video for the K-12 set on topics that align with state education standards. Games, quizzes and activity instructions then follow. Normally $18.95 (BrainPOP Jr.) or $24.95 (BrainPOP) a month for family plans, BrainPOP is temporarily free.

Elementary through teens:

  • NoRedInk has hundreds of free writing and grammar exercises for grades 5 through 12.
  • James Dyson Foundation engineers came up with 44 engineering and science challenges using household objects, for all ages. (Some younger children may require parental assistance.)
  • Seterra offers more than 300 online map quizzes in 36 languages for students. Free printables allow for handwritten quizzes. The website (free) and app ($1.99 for iOS and Android) also have anatomy quizzes.
  • NASA is offering chances for kids in grades 1 through 12 to chat with scientists, watch videos, find directions for STEM projects, solve puzzles, play games, read books, color sheets and watch lectures.
  • Tynker has more than 40 courses for the wannabe coder in the house. Kids ages 5 to 7 can solve logic problems and create simple apps; kids 8 to 13 build games and design Minecraft mods; ages 14 and over learn coding languages and how to make websites and even prep for AP Computer Science.
  • With Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government, created by the Government Publishing Office, kids can go on a virtual learning adventure with Ben Franklin. Topics include branches of government, how laws are made, symbols and structures, election processes and federally recognized tribes.
  • The Smithsonian Institution Learning Lab allows kids to access millions of digital resources from the Smithsonian’s museums, research centers, libraries, archives and more. The site also offers prepackaged collections that contain lessons, activities and recommended resources.
  • Girls Who Code is releasing free, weekly and downloadable computer science exercises of varying degrees of difficulty over the next few months on its website. Already-online activities include building a basic chatbot or a more advanced instructional tutorial video.
  • National Museum of American History activities include building a virtual sod house, examining the imagery in a buffalo hide painting and more.
  • Scholastic’s interactive immigration module includes narratives, an Ellis Island tour and historical lessons about immigration in the United States.
  • Discovery Education has virtual field trips across a variety of subject areas, such as a dairy farm or a behind-the-scenes look at careers at Facebook. Trips include written guides and video aides.
  • The National Constitution Center’s virtual field trip takes kids inside the Constitution.
  • The Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has YouTube videos for its Virtual Camp Discovery, which explores science-based activities including slime-making, meeting a gopher tortoise and more.
  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture offers resources and activities for educators and students. Its Learning Lab collection uses objects, documents, imagery and videos to explore well-known and lesser-known moments of history.
  • The Free Library of Philadelphia’s site features a page with links to resources for studying African American history and culture, including major speeches, notable figures and a timeline of African American history.

Tweens and teens:


These days, our travel is limited by the perimeters of our own neighborhoods. Thankfully, we can still see breathtaking sights in faraway lands, learn about people, animals and cultures around the world and even travel back in time — with a little help from the Internet. Pay a visit to Ellis Island or Colonial Williamsburg, observe wild animals on a national park’s webcam, or ooh over panoramic photographs of far-flung cities and landmarks. You can also sharpen your knowledge of geography or hone your language skills. Whether you want to learn about a country hundreds of miles from your home or explore your own state, here’s a sampler of virtual field trips, tours and classes for those times when a trip around the block just isn’t enough.

  • 360 Cities is offering free access to numerous high-quality 360 images of famous panoramas and landmarks from around the world.
  • While Colonial Williamsburg is closed, you can learn about colonial life in America with teacher resources, live video demonstrations and virtual tours.
  • National Geographic’s Explorer Classroom goes live every weekday at 2 p.m. Eastern with conservationists, researchers, scientists and storytellers.
  • Waterford.org has nine field trips that can be taken from the comfort of your couch, including seeing zoo animals, walking on Mars or viewing paintings in the Louvre museum in Paris.
  • Take a virtual field trip to Ellis Island and learn more about immigration in the United States at Scholastic’s website.
  • Visit the Smithsonian museums virtually by clicking on “Explore & Learn/Explore interests” to see objects from the museums’ collections, with annotations.
  • The Junior Ranger Program, offered by the National Park Service, includes free online activity books that touch on topics such as archaeology, paleontology, space, the ocean and more. The books include activities that can be completed indoors or outside.
  • The National Park Service also offers webcams with live video of national parks, plus interactive online exhibits and numerous articles and pictures.
  • Travel & Leisure has compiled 13 virtual train rides allowing you to “explore” countrysides in Europe, Asia, North America and more.
  • Through a partnership across many states, the Civil Rights Trail highlights more than 100 significant sites in the history of the Civil Rights movement. The website includes galleries and images, plus tools to plan a trip when travel is less restricted.
  • Watch more than 100 back episodes of National Geographic Kids’ geography show, “Are We There Yet?” on YouTube. The show is for kids ages 4 to 8 and hosted by brother-sister duos who explore unfamiliar locations across the globe.

Mental wellness

Living through a pandemic can be frightening and frustrating, with the routines of daily life disrupted and coping mechanisms limited by a world on pause. Too much energy, too little space. Too much time, too little to do. And, always, too much scary news. Helping kids understand their emotions and how to manage them is uniquely important during this strange time. The resources listed here will help parents talk with their children about the novel coronavirus, teach relaxation and mindfulness and help make all our emotions a little bit easier to navigate.

  • On YouTube, Moovlee offers yoga and meditation exercises for kids that are led by a cartoon monkey.
  • The Child Mind Institute is hosting daily live streams at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern with therapists on its Facebook page.
  • GoZenOnline offers anxiety relief songs, relaxation exercises and tips for parents on its YouTube channel.
  • Cosmic Kids has fun mindfulness exercises for kids on its YouTube channel.
  • The well-known meditation app Headspace now has an app for kids.
  • Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of “The Mindful Child,” has turned her website into a database to help parents and kids coping with the pandemic. Resources are divided into “mindful games,” with breathing exercises and creative ways to help kids stay calm, and “response to covid-19,” which has information on a pay-what-you-can course, hosted by a group of therapists, about how to respond to children’s needs.
  • Chanel Tsang’s Peace Out is a podcast with relaxation stories for kids.
  • “First Aid for Feelings: A Workbook to Help Kids Cope During the Coronavirus Pandemic” is a free workbook created by parenting expert Denise Daniels.
  • Sesame Street’s “Little Children, Big Challenges” initiative includes an app, inspired by the popular children’s television show, to help children learn problem-solving strategies and emotional regulation.
  • Child psychologist Abigail Gewirtz wrote a script to be used as a guide for talking to children about the coronavirus.
  • Stop, Breathe & Think for Kids is an app to help children focus, relax and rest.
  • Child-care expert Janet Lansbury talks about respectful parenting on her podcast “Unruffled.” Recent episodes have covered topics related to the outbreak.
  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has put out a coronavirus fact sheet with details about how the pandemic might affect the mental well-being of children.
  • The Fred Rogers Center put together a compendium of resources for parents.
  • “What happens when coronavirus changes EVERYTHING?” is a downloadable PDF guidebook by Sara Olsher for coping with ruptures in routine as a result of the pandemic.
  • School social worker Nicole Batiste has put together a covid-19 journal for kids with guiding activities to help children express their emotions.
  • Calm offers guided meditations, relaxing audio and mindfulness resources for kids.
  • GoNoodle posts videos with imaginative, guiding exercises to help children manage emotions.
  • “Carolina Conquers Her Coronavirus Fears” is a coloring book put together by LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans to help kids cope with uncertain circumstances and fears brought on by the pandemic.

Physical activity

Staying fit during the covid-19 crisis is challenging for even the most fitness-focused among us. So, what to do with kids ages 2 to 18, who probably are sitting in front of screens more than ever, who are missing their scheduled sports and activities and who are not used to exercising on their own? We humans need daily exercise. Kids are no exception. They should get a minimum of 60 minutes a day of cardio and strength. Try to mimic the amount of exercise the child gets on a normal day to make sure they stay fit and happy. The general rule for kids’ strength-building is that prepubescent children are safest doing body-weight exercises, such as push-ups and situps, while teenagers can lift weights. Make a plan with your child that focuses on wellness and health above all. This list of fitness resources includes three-minute dance videos, online yoga, ideas for games like hopscotch and indoor balloon volleyball, fitness card games, online youth sports performance videos and much more.

  • Healthy Kids Running Series, a national inclusive youth running experience for kids ages 2 to 14, is converting its outdoor, five-week spring series into a virtual series.
  • GoNoodle offers videos to get kids moving, including dancing, stretching, running, jumping and more. The channel has an app that’s recommended for kids 5 and up.
  • Cosmic Kids Yoga offers free yoga on YouTube for young children ages 3 and up. There are countless classes, from three minutes to three hours, featuring brilliant colors, storytelling (themes: “Frozen,” “Moana” and “Peter Cottontail”), singing and of course yoga with a yogini Jaime Amor.
  • Adriene Mishler, an Austin-based yoga teacher with 7 million YouTube subscribers, is offering free online yoga classes ranging from 10 minutes to an hour. The classes focus on power flow, basic yoga, meditation and more. Open to all fitness levels and ages but more appropriate for teens than younger kids.
  • Top 25 At-Home Exercises by the American Council on Exercise offers kids of all ages — young ones with the help of an older sibling or parent — a chance to mix and match body-weight drills such as push-ups and situps to create their own workout, which could mean 10 challenging minutes or 40 moderate ones. Each exercise is explained and shown, but once you know them, this potentially is a screen-free option.
  • SHAPE America has instructions for an arts and crafts project (you have to create your own deck of fitness cards) that can provide kids with the option of several screen-free games for one to five players. Some games are suitable for young kids and others for middle-schoolers and older. For the youngest kids, this project requires older-sibling or parent involvement.
  • The YMCA offers dozens of free online videos, both kid-specific and general-public, by YMCA coaches and instructors. The kid- and teen-geared classes are clearly marked, such as “Youth Sports Performance,” which features indoor and outdoor drills to develop overall athleticism and prevent injuries. Some videos require equipment (such as a soccer ball, cones or a fitness band). Videos range from five to 25 minutes.
  • Emily Coates, a physical therapist with MedStar Health, gives suggestions for screen-free ways families can promote basic fitness (60 minutes a day of aerobic and strength training for children ages 6 to 17) and establish good habits while distance learning, such as building in plenty of physical fitness breaks during the day, including a scheduled recess. Outside activities include Frisbee, catch, tennis, biking, walking, running — all while practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene — and indoor activities include dance parties, Simon Says and Nerf wars.
  • British fitness trainer Joe Wicks offers free boot camp-style classes for kids on YouTube. The classes, which focus on body-weight exercises, range from five to 15 minutes and are geared toward elementary school-aged kids and younger. He also has many non-kid workouts that would be suitable for teenagers.
  • Fitness Blender is a free online workout platform for adults that features mostly body-weight exercises. There are more than 500 workouts — focusing on specific muscle groups, cardio, flexibility — and is appropriate for teens with the exception of a couple of videos geared toward kids.
  • Nike Training Club is an app that offers close to 200 free workouts ranging from 15 to 60 minutes and covering HIIT training, weightlifting, yoga and more. It is designed for tech-comfortable and self-motivated adults but can be suitable for high schoolers.


The signature sound of this pandemic may be that of a delivery truck slowing down in front of your house, but thanks to the wealth of free material available online, there’s plenty more melodious music out there. On any given day, you can hear chamber musicians play Schumann at the Lincoln Center, catch a Metropolitan Opera performance of Bizet’s “Carmen” or listen to field recordings of Mississippi Delta bluesmen at the Smithsonian Institution. Or you can learn to make your own music: There are sites that will teach you to play guitar, read music and compose your own songs — or symphonies. Music is the mood-altering drug we could all use a little more of right now. So bring that package inside, pop on a Spotify playlist and take a quick turn around the block to “Walking on Sunshine.”

  • Spotify’s Coronavirus Children’s Dance Party playlist features what it calls “100 kids songs that won’t drive parents crazy” (plus “Baby Shark,” which will).
  • Cincinnati Public Radio’s Classics for Kids is a classical music education website for younger kids with games, resources for parents and teachers, and more.
  • The Library of Congress’s concert series features live performances of classical music.
  • The Smithsonian Institution’s website offers access to its huge collection of music from all over the world, including a section with interactive classroom lessons.
  • Sight Reading Factory offers interactive sight-reading exercises designed for kids, including voice and more than 30 instruments. There are limited options that can be accessed without a paid subscription, and the activities require some familiarity with the concepts.
  • Kids Guitar Zone is featuring free beginner guitar lessons for kids with Australian educator and musician Andrew Keppie.
  • Bramwell Tovey, then the music director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, is both conductor and narrator in this broadcast of “Peter and the Wolf” from Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Music.
  • Metropolitan Opera is offering free encore videos, during the covid-19 shutdown, of previous performances. Scroll down for weekly schedules and “free student streams.”
  • MusicTheory.net features free music theory lessons, exercises and tools for young musicians.
  • Flat is a free tool for writing your own scores online, including discussions of craft and concepts.
  • Laurie Berkner of the Laurie Berkner Band (and formerly of Noggin) is doing a Facebook Live every morning at 10 a.m. Eastern. Also, each weekday, the band will be posting a song for a morning Berkner Breakfast (7 a.m.), an afternoon Berkner Break (3 p.m.) and an evening Berkner Bedtime (7 p.m.).
  • The Lincoln Center is streaming free daily performances and workshops through a new portal.
  • World Music Network’s website features numerous guides to music from around the world. The guides are free, but some music requires a purchase.


If there’s any silver lining to this pandemic, it’s the jaw-dropping creativity demonstrated by the quarantined and isolated around the world. Art teachers are live-streaming drawing classes while decked out in art history-themed costumes. Housebound art lovers have re-created favorite paintings with common household objects. Illustrators are turning to the symbols of the outbreak — toilet paper, hand sanitizer — with a fresh artistic eye. Children can join in the creative fervor with free coloring sheets, online classes and games, and digital museum tours.

  • Author and illustrator Mo Willems recently concluded a three-week stint as artist-in-residence at the Kennedy Center. You can find all 15 episodes of “Lunch Doodles,” along with the accompanying downloadable activities, archived on the organization’s website.
  • Nikon is offering free online camera classes — best suited for teenagers. Even if you don’t have a fancy camera, basic lessons on portraiture, landscape photography and more can be adapted to other camera models.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers MetKids, an interactive module, to help children explore the museum’s collection. Kids can navigate to educational videos and creative prompts.
  • The Louvre offers virtual tours of some of its exhibits, including the moat and Egyptian antiquities.
  • From Australia to Mexico to Amsterdam to Los Angeles, this curated collection from Google Arts & Culture uses street view to take armchair travelers around the globe. It has views of famous landmarks such as the Colosseum in Rome and Taj Mahal in India, and guided virtual tours and curated collections touching on art, literature, science and more.
  • Tate Kids online has interactive, art-inspired games and activities. Some highlights include a street-art game and an interactive painting game that allows children to create digital art in Van Gogh’s style.
  • Cassie Stephens, an enthusiastic art teacher based in Tennessee, offers live art classes every day on Facebook.
  • The Smithsonian Learning Activities Choice Board is updated weekly and highlights activities related to various Smithsonian museum collections (divided into science, social studies, arts and culture).
  • The website Toy Theater has art tools that allow you to build virtual sculptures, paint on famous paintings and do other interactive activities.
  • A video series from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, “The Country Dog Gentlemen Travel to Extraordinary Worlds,” stars dogs who teach children about the collection.
  • Scribblify is free app that children can use to doodle with all kinds of funky tools.
  • NGAKids Art Zone app for iPad has interactive games for children, inspired by the National Gallery of Art’s collection.
  • Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton, known for illustrating Samin Nosrat’s “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat,” is hosting weekday drawing classes on her Instagram page live through the rest of the school year. Past classes are on YouTube.
  • Art teacher Bar Rucci posts a weekly “Art & Play Activity Guide” on Instagram and her website.
  • Albright Knox Art Gallery has a series of free games for iOS and Android based on works by artists such as Piet Mondrian and Vincent Van Gogh. The site also includes creative activities for kids (and adults) inspired by gallery artwork.
  • The Doodle Institute has a free, downloadable workbook with 21 days of guided doodling exercises for kids.
  • On Whiteboard Fox, kids can use a digital whiteboard to draw and doodle alone or share the whiteboard with friends.
  • While the Museum of Modern Art is closed, older kids may enjoy one of its free online art classes, which include “What Is Contemporary Art?” and “Fashion as Design,” as well as instruction in art pedagogy.

Theater and dance

It has been said that all the world’s a stage — but what to do when the world has contracted to the size of your living room? Never fear, there are online resources that make it possible to expand your child’s knowledge of theater without leaving home. While live theater and dance performances are on hold, why not encourage kids to swap the role of spectator for that of performer? Or tap the dramatic potential of self-quarantine? How about learning what goes on behind the scenes of a theatrical production? The resources listed here include tutorials in beginning ballet, exercises for budding playwrights and courses in the history of drama.

  • The Hamilton Education Program, a partnership between the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the producers of the “Hamilton” musical, is offering free access through August to EduHam at Home, a family version of its online education program. Students can study primary source documents from the era, learn how Lin-Manuel Miranda used similar documents to create the musical, and create their own performance pieces based on that material. The program includes videos from “Hamilton” and its cast members, interviews with Miranda and more.
  • The New York City Ballet will broadcast full ballets and excerpts on YouTube, Facebook and its website, and it will host ballet-inspired movement workshops. A 20-minute, Saturday-morning Zoom workshop for kids ages 3 to 8 requires advance registration.
  • KIDZ BOP offers dance-along videos that can encourage the incorporation of music and movement in daily routines.
  • Crash Course’s series of 50 videos go through the history, theory and technology behind theater, mimicking an introductory college-level course.
  • Daniella Ballerina’s YouTube videos present easy-to-follow, engaging ballet lessons for preschoolers.
  • PBS Learning Media features theater resources that include almost 300 videos (including workshops and behind-the-scenes peeks), interactive games and lesson plans.
  • Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis is offering virtual resources for both students and parents, including weekly video series and educational tips.
  • Broadway Educators is offering free educational materials for those teaching or learning about theater. The resources, for all ages, can be broken down by discipline, education level, content type and category.
  • Imagination Stage offers at-home creative challenges, ideas and activities free on their blog, including a follow-along dance moves video from Tiffany Quinn, the choreographer of their production “Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth.”
  • In addition to their regular free resources and articles, the Educational Theatre Association has temporarily opened its Theatre Educator Pro resources to everyone.
  • Black Box Education has compiled a free list of resources for those teaching drama at home.
  • The Kennedy Center is offering comprehensive theater lesson plans that can be narrowed down by content and grade level.


While kids are geographically grounded, learning a new language is a great way for them to explore an unfamiliar culture without leaving home. Parents can pair introductory lessons with virtual city tours or foreign-language children’s programming to make it more fun. Most of the resources here require only a few minutes each day and include skill-building options such as worksheets, audio, video and even games.

  • Duolingo is a free language learning app and website that only requires a few minutes a day, and it offers a premium service for a fee.
  • Gallaudet University offers free American Sign Language classes online, where you can track progress with a dashboard.
  • Education.com offers free printable workbook pages in Hindi, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, German, Russian, Arabic and American Sign Language for kids in preschool through fifth grade.
  • ESL Video offers free videos, quizzes, lessons and more for those learning English, as well as a virtual exchange with a language teacher.
  • The Memrise app allows users to learn a language through interactive games and videos featuring native speakers.
  • The French Experiment offers free online French lessons, children’s stories in French and course reviews for those learning to speak French.
  • Basho & Friends is offering a free three-month subscription to its Spanish language-learning resources, which make use of songs and music videos, to aid families with distance learning during the coronavirus school closures.


Time — considered a precious commodity just months ago — is the one thing kids have in abundance right now. How to stave off the inevitable declarations of boredom? The suggestions gathered here include the practical (housebound kids may as well learn their way around the kitchen) and the whimsical (there has never been a better time to make an origami frog). Amid the vicissitudes of remote learning, kids need downtime and so do their frazzled parents: Time to start journaling, catch a science podcast — or just keep a play date with Elmo.

  • This origami how-to for kids features step-by-step instructions and downloadable PDFs.
  • Flower crowns? String art? Vegetable prints? Find all these and more — 97 more, to be exact — on this Mommy Poppins list of 100 crafts kids can do at home.
  • Amazon offers children’s programming, such as “Arthur” and “Mr. Bean,” free for Amazon Prime members. (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
  • National Geographic Kids’ science-, wildlife- and history-themed content includes online games, quizzes, slide shows and videos.
  • Raddish Cooking Club for Kids offers weekly “cook-along” classes as well as kid-friendly cooking resources.
  • Kitchen Classroom from America’s Test Kitchen offers a free cooking-inspired “curriculum,” including recipes, hands-on activities and experiments.
  • Rebel Girls offers free “Rebel Girls at Home” content, including PDFs on activities such as journaling, planting a garden or climbing a mountain.
  • Camp Hello Bello, formed by Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, offers free “camp sessions” weekdays on Instagram Live, Facebook and YouTube, including singalongs, exercise sessions, puppet shows, cooking and crafts.
  • The on-demand streaming service Pinna offers 60 days of free kids’ entertainment podcasts.
  • “Wow in the World” is a science-themed podcast for kids, with hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz.
  • Story Pirates Creators Club offers daily “Story Pirates Radio” podcasts for kids, paired with related downloadable activities.
  • Sesame Street’s website features singalongs, story times and other “Sesame Street” activities, including, recently, a play date with Elmo. New content is added weekly.
  • Common Sense Media offers a vetted list of the best educational documentaries (“March of the Penguins,” “A Beautiful Planet” and more), while noting appropriate viewer ages.
  • “Harry Potter at Home” offers free games, quizzes and activities for everyone from beginning readers to seasoned Potterphiles. Update: In May, the site announced celebrities would be reading chapters of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” out loud on video (or audio via Spotify), starting with Daniel Radcliffe.
  • The Food Literacy Center offers kid-friendly recipes and accompanying YouTube and Facebook lessons designed to emphasize the components of healthy meals.
  • The website for Delish magazine offers free digital cooking classes for kids weekdays at 1 p.m. Eastern on Instagram.
  • King Arthur Flour’s website features a downloadable book of easy-to-follow recipes and techniques for dishes such as pizza, braided breads, rolls and more.

Doctor, patient, parent: Chapel Hill man sees the many sides of COVID-19

Posted May 13, 2020 11:44 a.m. EDT
Updated May 13, 2020 5:59 p.m. EDT

By Richard Adkin, WRAL photojournalist

Samuel McLean, MD, MPH
Vice Chair of Research Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Emergency Medicine

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — There are few people who have seen COVID-19 from as many angles as Dr. Samuel McLean, a Chapel Hill emergency department physician. He’s seen the virus as a doctor, he’s seen it as a patient, and he’s seen it as the parent of a sick child.

“It was really my worst nightmare, getting COVID myself,” he said of the experience. “It never really hits you like it has during this COVID pandemic, the fact that when you’re going to work you’re risking not only your life, but the lives of people around you, and that for sure is the hardest part.”

McLean started feeling ill back in March. He had treated people with what he suspected were coronavirus symptoms, and having seen the news coverage from overseas, he knew the pandemic was inevitable. He called it “like a slow train in terms of the COVID epidemic coming to our community.”

McLean says his symptoms started with a cough and a headache. The symptoms were mild. He didn’t have a fever and the symptoms went away after a few days. Then a week later, they came back much worse.

Soon his family was sick. Even the dog tested positive for coronavirus.

McLean knows the risks of being an emergency medical worker. He says that risk is usually small. But this virus, he says, is something to fear.

“The fear that you might get sick yourself but also the fear that people who mean the most to you in the world could even die because of your work. That is truly a very scary feeling,” he said.

With fear comes courage, courage bolstered by community support. McLean sees that support and believes it hits the mark with his fellow healthcare coworkers.

“Well I think it means a lot to all of us,” McLean said, “I think that we are all extremely grateful, and I think that just as humans that any of us, when we are making a sacrifice, making a commitment, to have that sacrifice recognized, is just very meaningful.”

Why Doesn’t My Child Want To Go Outside?

Some kids won’t leave the house at all – even for daily exercise. Here’s how to help get then outdoors.

By Victoria Richards 05/01/2020 11:25 am EDT | Updated May 1, 2020

Our kids can be reluctant to get outside right now. Here's how to coax them outdoors.
Our kids can be reluctant to get outside right now. Here’s how to coax them outdoors

You might think lockdown has left us all yearning to be outside – at a time when we’re restricted in our outdoor activities, even staring out the window can feel a lot like a case of ‘wanting what you can’t have’.

Not so, for some kids. My three-year-old is one of them: every time I start panicking he’s been staring at a screen for too long – and that he’s going to be left with vitamin D deficiency from lack of exposure to direct sunlight – I’ll yell out, “It’s trampoline time, now!” To which he’ll gleefully yell back, “No, thanks!”

He’s not just being obstinate and it’s not because he’s obsessed with screens, either. It’s not even a direct dislike of the big outdoors; he just gets so… absorbed in whatever he’s doing. And nine times out of 10, that’s something inside.

It can be playing with LEGOs, building a den, or following the cat around making “meow” noises and asking “what language do pussycats speak,” like he’s a tiny scientist, conducting an important field experiment.RAISE THE KIND OF PERSON YOU’D LIKE TO KNOWSubscribe to our parenting newsletter.Successfully Subscribed!Realness delivered to your inbox

My toddler isn’t alone. Twitter user Katherine recently bemoaned her toddler’s unusual behavior, saying he was “uncharacteristically moody, all the time” and doesn’t want to do anything, go anywhere “or even leave the house”.

And she wasn’t the only one experiencing the phenomenon of the ‘reluctant child’. Many parents responded to the tweet sharing that their child, too, doesn’t want to go outside during lockdown.

One mom said her five year old had barely left the house in five weeks. “I can count the occasions on my fingers,” she said. “Maybe it’s hard for them because they are told we have to stay home, so they can’t differentiate.”

“Maybe it’s hard for them because they are told we have to stay home, so they can’t differentiate.”
“Maybe it’s hard for them because they are told we have to stay home, so they can’t differentiate.”

Another parent said her daughter wants to get in the car as soon as they leave the house. “I literally have to bribe her to walk!” she said, while another mom confessed she’d been “bribing” her daughter into the stroller with snacks.

Why is it, then, that our kids are usually desperate to get outside – but now they’re suddenly not? Consultant clinical psychologist Emma Citron says we need to bear in mind kids aren’t used to having quite so much time at home – or just being. “They’re not used to having their parents around, all the time, either,” she says.

“Remember they’re the same as adults – it can be very hard to motivate ourselves, and it should be no surprise that children are the same,” she continues. “We often have higher expectations for our children than we do for ourselves, but we have to remember they’re just like us, struggling with the same existential feelings of anxiety, stress or low mood – and they’re trying to adjust to that.”

Naturally, they’re going to be less motivated. And, says Citron, if you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, it’s not likely to be fear of the virus that’s keeping them in. “It’s more likely that they’re adapting to their ‘new normal’ and finding things they enjoy doing indoors that help them feel safe and secure.”

Try not to worry, she adds. “I think it’s about going with the flow and being flexible around expectation. Don’t introduce rigid rules, you can afford to be more flexible than you would normally, at a time like this.”

Here are four ways to coax your child out to get some fresh air, whether that’s in the backyard or for their daily walk or exercise.

Introduce ‘active hour.’ Citron says you could suggest an active hour, or active 40 minutes, once a day and see how your kids take to it – “followed by their favorite Peppa Pig video,” she adds.

Keep talking. Keep communication up and if they don’t want to go outside, ask why they’re feeling that way, she adds. “Model it; say, ‘Darling, I’m feeling that at times it’s hard to get going, are you finding that too?’ Empathy is important and so is sharing the common experience with your child.”

Don’t look nervous. “If your child is anxious about going out because of the virus, try not to look nervous or jump away from joggers,” Citron says. Don’t ask nervously, ‘Why haven’t you got your gloves on?’ Instead, try to chill out as much as possible.”

Change your expectations. We should try to change our expectations of our kids at this time, she adds, and remember that, like us, they’re going to be struggling and having difficult behaviors. “Don’t pile on the pressure,” she says. “Keep your expectations real – and achievable.”

Have a story or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email me at throughlovewelearn@gmail.com.

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