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Expanding Your Child's World, From Home

April 7, 2020

Parent and caregivers, we know it's challenging to have your children at home during this pandemic. Here is a roundup of online resources that can help kids stay engaged in learning—preventing their brains from "turning to mush" while they are not in school.

Dear Caregivers with Children at Home...

We know the past few weeks have had their challenges, to put it mildly.

Your children are at home, eating all the food, and in dire need of some stimulation other than hours of Fortnite, Minecraft, or Nintendo (note: I came up in the  90s, and currently work primarily with parents of preschoolers—my references may be outdated). With schools being closed due to quarantine, how are we to ensure our children's academic development?

Here is a radical thought: there is no need to fill up your children's every daylight hour with academics. That is not your role as parent or caregiver. Your child's teacher may have set a framework in place, yes. There may be assignments to complete, and you may need to provide support, as during the regular school year. Otherwise, I believe it may best behoove us to let it go (and if that involves your child watching Frozen yet again so that you can get some things done, so be it).

But I know you don't want your child's brain to turn to metaphorical mush. And neither do we at NPL. After all, every summer we go on about the "summer slide" and  how important it is to get kids reading while they are out of school. Let your children read widely, and for fun. Let your child even be bored, and figure out what to do for themselves. We are all building new kinds of resiliency during this pandemic, and children are no exception. 

But yes, your children should perhaps not play hours upon hours of Fortnite. Their brains and the aforementioned metaphorical mush, you know.

Learning (and Fun) to be found Online

Luckily, educational and cultural organizations and institutions are rising to the challenge and taking their programming online. My colleague Cassie compiled a handy list of online story times, led by chidren's literature authors and publishing companies. Below I've compiled some other online resources that you and your family may enjoy exploring while at home.

On Facebook, the Atlantic White Shark Conservatory is livestreaming shark themed storytimes and virtual lessons, the Cleveland Inner City Ballet is offering free online ballet classes for children, and educators from the New England Aquarium are sharing information and liveshots featuring all sorts of marine life.

If you are looking for new ways to experience storytelling, Storyline Online has a video library of children's books read aloud by actors you may recognize from your favorite shows and movies. The Spanish Experiment has well-known children's stories translated into Spanish and read aloud (slowly!) by native Spanish speakers.  Be sure to follow the links to The Fable Cottage for more classic stories in other languages, including Spanish, as well as German, Italian, French, and English.  

Libraries and Museums

To explore libraries and museums from home, I Love Libraries has compiled a list of amazing library collections to explore online, including the Library of Congress and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has self-guided virtual tours of its exhibits, both past and present, that everyone can enjoy.

Academic Curricula and Exploration

Other academic explorations can enrich children's standard curriculum. And you can support them in that endeavor!

With your library card, you have access to BookFLIX, an interactive literacy learning resource. To support your at-home teaching and learning, the folks at BookFLIX have created some toolsl to help you use their resource: tips for parents and a best practice for teaching guide.

Scholastic Learn at Home offers daily content comprising "four separate learning experiences, each built around a thrilling, meaningful story or video," for grades Pre-K to Ninth. 

The Smithsonian has developed a library of Distance Learning Resources created by both museum educators and classroom teachers. Nashville's own Vanderbilt University has put together a webpage with digital resources for students in grades K-12. 

From Canada, indigenous educators are sharing materials and lessons online. If your family is looking for explictly antiracist educational resources, check out this Google Doc.

We Will Share More!

Please bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive compilation. As we continue to share information during this fluid, developing situation, we will find new resources to explore. Share the above with your networks, and share your findings with us. Get our online newsletter and stay in touch with us on Facebook for up-to-date and accuurate information.

We wish you luck in keeping your children engaged in the wider world while at home. If all else fails, there is always cleaning (shout out to my mom).

Klem-Mari Cajigas

Klem-Marí Cajigas

In a former life, Klem-Marí was a Religious Studies scholar. She much prefers being the Family Literacy Coordinator for Bringing Books to Life! She wants you to read and share books with the children in your life, and for those children to see you to read as well. Originally from Puerto Rico, Klem-Marí also enjoys her cat, baking, yoga, and the works of Octavia Butler.