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Military Family Advisory Network is committed to supporting military families through whatever challenges life sends their way. In recent days, many military families find themselves dealing with extended school closures and social distancing in response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. We have gathered a list of resources for you that will hopefully help ease the stress of this time out of school and help to provide both entertainment and opportunities for learning for our military children at home.
Talking to children about COVID-19
With school closures and social distancing, children will likely have questions and concerns about COVID-19. While you may not have all the answers, providing factual, age-appropriate information will help to alleviate fears and prevent your child from coming up with their own worst case scenarios. Parents help set the tone for their families, so staying calm and modeling good hygiene and responsible social distancing practices will help children feel more secure in the days, and likely weeks, ahead. The National Association of School Psychologists has shared information to help families talk about COVID-19 and your family’s response to the outbreak.
Online Educational Resources
In light of current recommendations for social distancing and school closures, many online education providers are offering free learning resources for a variety of age groups. If you do not currently have internet access at home, several internet providers are offering free internet service during this time to help support families during this period of social distancing. Also, many cellphone providers are offering unlimited data to their customers for the next 60 days. To access these services, reach out to your local internet and/or cellphone providers to learn more.
While you may not have access to your base library, MWR programs have provided access to a free online library including access to many online newspapers and magazines in addition to a huge selection of books and research tools for all ages. Check your base library webpage for more information on how to create to username and password.
Tutor.com is an online tutoring and homework resource provided to military families for free by the Department of Defense. There are tutors are available 24/7 for instant access to help, you can schedule tutoring time, or you can upload a document or problem for help with all core subjects at any grade level.
In addition to the resources provided by the DoD, here is a list of free resources you can access for online learning support for your school-age children. Many school districts also provide access to other subscription-based resources, so check with your teacher or school district to see if there are ways to access those resources from home.
Khan Academy provides short instructional videos, practice exercises and individualized learning dashboards for students of all ages.
Code.org is a useful resource for computer science educational information. The content is targeted toward K-12 students and helps students learn how to code by developing games and apps.
National Geographic Kids provides free articles (including one on COVID-19), videos, games and science experiments that elementary school age children can do at home. National Geographic Family also provides resources for things you can do as a family and has added resources about COVID-19 and guidance on how to talk to your children about the virus.
Scholastic has online learning platforms for children from preschool-age through sixth grade and beyond. Content will be provided daily, featuring an online story or video with four cross curricular lessons for students to complete.
Prodigy is a free math program for children in grades K-8. Set up like a game, Prodigy provides self-paced, differentiated curriculum for each student. Many school districts have partnerships with Prodigy, so you may want to check with your teacher to see if your child already has an account.
Teachers Pay Teachers is an online resource where you can access free (and paid) curriculum plans for students in preschool through 12th grade. There are many suggestions for guided activities as well as worksheets you can print out for independent work.
The Cincinnati Zoo may be closed, but they are offering Home Safaris via Facebook Live Monday through Friday at 3 p.m. Central time. Each day the Zoo will highlight one of the animals and will include an at-home activity for students. This program will start on March 16 and will feature their popular baby hippopotamus, Fiona! Like and follow their Facebook page for more information.
For younger siblings, online resources like PBS Kids and Storyline Online provide educational online games and stories appropriate for preschool age children when you need a chance to focus on your older children.
At MFAN, we know that many military families depend on the federally-funded school breakfast and lunch program. Many schools are continuing to provide access to these meals through grab-and-go pick up locations throughout the school district, and other local organizations are also stepping up to help families make ends meet during these challenging times. We encourage families to look for announcements from their school districts or to reach out to district offices or teachers to find out what resources are available.
In addition to emphasizing good personal hygiene, such as covering coughs and sneezes and frequent hand-washing, now is also an ideal time to wash backpacks, jackets, lunch boxes, and other items your children brought home from school to help prevent the virus from spreading. You may also want to use this time to clean car seats and surfaces in your car with antibacterial wipes and sprays.
While we encourage proper social distancing practices, you can still take time each day to go outside with your family. Taking a family bike ride or walking the dog will give everyone a much-needed break from being inside and exercise has been shown to help boost your immune system. Go Noodle is another online resource that you can access for free movement and mindfulness videos inside your home when going outside is not an option.
In the days and weeks to come, we will no doubt face additional challenges as this situation changes and our national response continues to evolve. Military families are known for their resiliency and strength and these qualities will certainly be put to the test in the days and weeks to come. Please know that even in these challenging times, MFAN remains committed to supporting military families by providing information from trusted sources and resources you can use to help care for yourself and your family. As new information and resources become available, we will be sure to share with our followers through our blog and social media. Stay tuned and continue to take care of yourself.
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