Families across the country are adapting to the challenges in daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Families with children face even more challenges. The task of keeping children occupied, and attempting to keep up with schoolwork, monitoring “screen time,” feeding, etc. is NOT easy!
Nonetheless, it is very important to remember that children look to adults for guidance. We can help make lemonade out of lemons, even in the face of a pandemic by focusing on the positive. Adults can model a whole host of problem-solving skills for children of all ages. We can also show children how to be flexible, how to make do and improvise, and how to be compassionate.
As we all work though adjusting to a new normal, know that WFSU public television has expanded their educational services by providing emergency at-home learning content to assist families, students, and teachers throughout their viewing region during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 requires Public Media (WFSU) to serve everybody, everywhere, every day for free. WFSU Public Media is doing just that.
WFSU Public Media is working hard pursuing their education mission, clearing their normal daytime schedules, broadcasting grade-appropriate instructional programming, as well as creating and curating educational games and other online content. WFSU educational television programs are geared to helping children succeed in school and in life (https://wfsu.org/education/).
The new daytime WFSU At-Home Learning block of programs begin at 6 a.m., focusing on preschool to 3rd grade learners. You will find “Wild Kratts,” “Daniel Tiger,” “Curious George” and other classic PBS KIDS programs.
At 11 a.m. programming shifts to target middle and high school students. Programs like “Nova” focus on science, “The Great American Read” on English Language Arts, “Masterpiece” on British literature and “American Experience” on U.S. history, just to name some of the PBS programs featured.
Plus, WFSU is working with local school districts to ensure that they can link students to these resources and utilize PBS Learning Media, an online repository of content that is aligned to Florida curriculum standards.
Additionally, WFSU, knowing that their youngest viewers and their families count on the entertaining and educational programs normally shown on the HD channel in the daytime, moved the PBS Kids 24/7 channel, to one of their digital services available free over-the-air and also to Comcast channel 203. It is also live streamed on the WFSU website: https://wfsu.org/education/watch-live-wfsu-pbs-kids-360/.
WFSU Public Media is also providing critical assistance through public safety communications and local programming that gives our communities trustworthy information about every aspect of the health emergency.
Thank you, David Mullins, general manager of WFSU Public Media, including the Florida Channel, and Kim Kelling, director of content and community partnerships at WFSU Public Media. Your timely assistance to every person in your viewing area is much appreciated.
WFSU – TV, Channel 11: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Jefferson, Hamilton, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Suwannee, Wakulla counties and Georgia counties Decatur, Grady, Thomas and Seminole.
WFSG – TV, Channel 56: Holmes, Washington and Walton counties
Can I go outside during the Coronavirus Pandemic? Is it a smart idea? As we are instructed by the CDC to isolate ourselves and embrace social distancing, we may start to feel a little restless or stir crazy after staying inside for a long period of time. Spring weather is great, especially in the mornings and evenings, here in Florida. Normally we would be entering a time when people are the most active outdoors. This year we must be a little more creative when deciding what we can do to enjoy daily activities outside of our home.
Family playing outside
Photo Source: UF/IFAS
Children usually need no encouragement to go outside. Youth that spend more time outside have positive outcomes with their health by interacting with their natural environments. They are curious about the world around them and their experiences outside will benefit them in regard to a positive attitude toward their environment. Adults have those same benefits but tend to forget or not have time in everyday life as it gets busy.
Therefore, the question is, what can we do that will keep us at a distance and be educational and productive? If you live in less populated areas, you might plant a garden, build an outside project that you have been putting off, enjoy a picnic, or hike and sight-see through the woods. If in the city and able, go for a walk or jog with your dog, take a bike ride or do some yoga especially if you are missing the gym. Your medical professionals will be glad you are participating in some physical activity and breathing in some fresh air. You might want to get in a lawn chair and just relax and soak up some vitamin D from a few minutes in the sun.
If you have recently become your child’s teacher, you can have learning activities outside. Science and math can be integrated by building a house out of natural resources, allowing students to collect materials and build while fostering creativity. Talk about ecosystems of trees and plants and how they might provide a home for insects or animals. Students could take a piece of paper outside and define what they see in their yard, integrating spelling and vocabulary, or write a short story based on what they hear and observe.
We are living and facing challenges today that we probably have not encountered before, so it is a good time to find an outlet to relieve stress and detour the onset of depression. The web is full of ideas for all ages if you run out of inspiration and some days we do. Remember to keep a safe distance from others, wash your hands frequently and follow your local guidelines but don’t be afraid to try something new that may be out of your ordinary routine. It might turn out to be your favorite hobby.
For more information on healthy living or other extension related topics, contact your local UF IFAS county extension office.
Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS Extension EDIS publications:
Kids in the Woods
Why is Exposure to Nature Important in Early Childhood
COVID-19 Preventative Measures
UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.
Friendships are an important part of life, and friendships can have a tremendous impact on our personal well-being and overall mental and physical health. Social isolation can lead to depression and loneliness. The relationships that we build with our family and friends can affect the quality of the friendships that we develop over our lifetimes. Some people thrive socially and develop deep, meaningful connections with others, while others only maintain distant friendships. However, it is important for us to help our children learn to develop these important social skills. Researchers have long documented links between the quality of relationships between family members and their relationships with their peers. Participation in team sports can have lasting benefits, including responsible social behaviors, good sportsmanship, strong leadership skills, academic success, and self-confidence.
Parents can form lasting friendships while supporting their kids in youth sports. (Photo source: Laurie Osgood, UF/IFAS Extension)
When It Comes to Youth Sports, Parents Don’t Always Behave Themselves.
As team sports become more competitive, there is increased attention placed on the negative aspects of team sports, mainly parental expectations and behavior. Having spent a large part of my life sitting in the stands watching my children play team sports, I have developed deep, long-lasting friendships with the parents of my children’s friends. These friendships are often maintained between parents long after our children put away their soccer cleats. Of course, overbearing parents can take the fun out of sports for our children. Many children drop out of team sports because they are no longer having fun and participation becomes too stressful.
What Can Parents Do to Help Their Kids Develop Positive, Warm Friendships?
- Continue to nurture and support the friendships that you have established throughout your lifetime.
- Be a good sports parent by showing support to your child.
- Model good friendship skills. This will help youth understand social competence.
- Be happy and have fun at your child’s competitions.
- Minimize pressure & don’t coach your child from the sidelines.
- Nurture the youth’s ambitions, but don’t let them get too wrapped up in the competitiveness.
- Be respectful of your child’s teammates, coach, opponents, and the game’s rules and traditions.
It is our job as parents to teach our children social skills to help them grow as individuals, not just athletes. As parents it is our job to nurture their emotional and physical development. Even as adults we must continue to stay connected with our friends and families. As we grow older, good friendships can prevent loneliness, improve our health, boost our well-being, and even add years to our lives.
One of the best ways to help prevent the flu this season is to get vaccinated. Even if you still get the flu, the severity and length of illness may be diminished. (Photo source: UF/IFAS file photo)
The holiday season has passed and now we are well on our way into 2020 with a very severe flu season. You are the best person at making sure you do not get the flu. Here are a few tips that you should consider as this flu season continues and still has not reached its peak.
- GET VACCINATED. It takes, on average, two weeks for the flu vaccine to reach its full potential, so if you have not gotten the flu shot, get it NOW. Even if you still get the flu, it will likely be shortened in time and strength if you are vaccinated.
- WASH YOUR HANDS. Washing your hands frequently will help protect you from the flu. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- AVOID CLOSE CONTACT WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE SICK. Be sure to avoid direct contact with anyone that is sick. If you must come in contact with them be sure to wash your hands once you leave. If you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE. Germs are spread quickly when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. So make a conscious effort to keep your hands away from your face.
- COVER YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE WHEN YOU COUGH AND SNEEZE. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or sneeze/cough into your closed elbow. These steps may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK. If possible, stay home from work and school when you are sick. This is the best way to avoid spreading your germs to other people. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. They also recommend that your fever should be gone for 24 hours (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine) for you to no longer be considered contagious.
- PRACTICE GENERAL GOOD HEALTH HABITS. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, and school, especially when someone is sick. Wash backpacks, coats, and other items regularly. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Follow the tips above and maintain the best health practices possible and hopefully you will be one of the lucky people that avoids the dreaded flu this year. Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2020!
Have you ever been bullied or know someone who has been bullied? I know I have. October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Each October since 2006, there has been a national effort to raise awareness about bullying and provide education and resources to try to prevent it. According to data from 2017, about 20% of youth ages 12-18 experienced bullying at school and nearly 30% reported cyberbullying during their lifetime. That is a lot of our country’s youth!
What Exactly is Bullying?
Bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior. Bullying must have a real or perceived power imbalance between the bully and the victim, where the bully uses their power to control or hurt their victim. The bullying behavior needs to be repeated over time, or at least have the potential to repeat over time.
There are three categories of bullying:
- Verbal bullying includes teasing, taunting, threats, or name-calling
- Social or relational bullying includes ignoring someone on purpose, ostracizing, spreading rumors, or embarrassing someone
- Physical bullying includes damaging belongings or harming another’s body such as spitting, hitting, pushing, rude gestures, or tripping
The constant and easy access of cell phones, social media, and the internet has increased the real dangers of cyberbullying. (Photo source: UF/IFAS)
Technology has changed the ways of bullying. Bullying is no longer only ‘picking on’ someone, making fun of them, calling them names, or ignoring them at school. The constant and easy access of cell phones, social media, and the internet has truly expanded bullying to an unthinkable, unending scale. There are many ways to bully someone online, including:
- Verbal attacks, mean messages, or rumors on social media accounts, online games such as Fortnite, or through email or text
- Releasing embarrassing or inappropriate pictures, GIFs, or videos online or through text (e.g. sexting)
- Creating fake profiles or hacking into someone’s account online in order to hurt that person
Perhaps one of the most dangerous things about cyberbullying is once something is posted online and is circulated, it’s very hard to permanently remove. This oftentimes makes escape from the bullying unusually difficult or even seemingly impossible. It’s so important to keep up with ways technology is advancing in order to protect ourselves from things like cyberbullying.
Effects of Bullying
The negative psychological effects of bullying are very real – for the bully, the victim, and those who may witness it.
For the bully, they have a greater risk of using substances, engaging in risky or violent behavior, being abusive in future relationships, committing crimes, and developing other external behavior problems.
Effects of bullying include low self-esteem, fear, loneliness, heartache, and potential physical illness. These effects put a widespread toll on the mental, physical, and social health of the victims and also those who witness bullying. The increased risk of using addictive and illegal substances, anxiety, depression, eating disorders or even becoming suicidal are to be taken seriously and should be treated appropriately. Seek out mental health professionals or physicians and consult with them on the best combination of treatment. These effects can last days, months, years, or even lifetimes depending on the person and the circumstance.
The Story of Amanda Todd
The story of Amanda Todd is an unfortunate real example of cyberbullying and how unforgiving and never-ending it can be. Amanda ultimately committed suicide to get away from it; she was only 15 years old. Her YouTube video, published in 2012 a month before she committed suicide, has 13.5 million views to date. To better understand the reality of bullying, please consider watching it or sharing it. However, viewer discretion is advised.
Bullying, harassment, discrimination, or any other type of negative, cruel, or harmful behavior is never okay or acceptable in any way. If you have been a witness of bullying or a bully, stand up to stop it! If you have been bullied or know someone who has, please seek help from caring professionals, family, or friends. Go-to resources are found below.
Stop Bullying Now Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- Available 24/7, managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Available 24/7, there is an online chat option available here
The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
- Available 24/7, suicide prevention help specifically for the LGBTQ+ community
- Texting and chat options are available here
National Eating Disorders Association: 1-800-931-2237
- Mon-Thu 9am-9pm, Fri 9am-5pm
The Cybersmile Foundation
STOMP Out Bullying
National Center for Educational Statistics, Indicators of School Crime and Safety Indicator 10: Bullying at School and Electronic Bullying, April 2019.
Cyberbullying Research Center
The Amanda Todd Legacy
Hanging with friends at 4-H Camp. Melanie Taylor as a 4-H Teen Counselor (right). Photo source: Melanie Taylor
Spring is upon us and 4-H Summer Camp preparations are in full swing. As a 4-H Agent preparing for our week of county 4-H camp, my days are busy with phone calls and emails from parents, teen counselor trainings, adult volunteer screenings, paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. Although this is a very busy time for me as a 4-H Agent, it also allows me to reflect on why I chose this career path and why there is a sense of nostalgia as I prepare for 4-H camp.
I attended 4-H camp in Virginia, where I grew up, every year from age 9-18. I was a camper who grew into a counselor-in-training and then a counselor. Those weeks of 4-H camp were filled with hot days and warm nights, but it was worth it all for the memories I will have for a lifetime. I can still smell the cafeteria food and hear the sounds in the gymnasium as kids played basketball and pounded at their leathercraft projects. I can feel the chills I would get as the entire camp sang around the campfire circle and patiently waited for the canoe to land on the lake’s edge; the camp staff would carry a flame as they entered the campfire circle and ceremoniously light the fire. Most importantly, I am still connected with my 4-H camp friends through social media and/or as close friends and we continue to share our old, blurry camp pictures from the 1990’s each year on Facebook.
Morning flag raising ceremony at Camp Timpoochee. Photo source: UF/IFAS Northwest District
So, as I work hard to prepare camp for my county campers and teen counselors, I want to create similar memories for them. In ten, twenty, and thirty years from now, I want them to think back on the fun moments they experienced in the Florida 4-H camping program. I also want them to form friendships and make camp connections for a lifetime, whether it is learning to kayak, fish, make arts and crafts, cook over a campfire, sing camp songs, etc.
With all of this said, I hope you as parents will consider giving your child(ren) these special moments. The days will be long, but fun, and their nights will be filled with campfires and hanging out with friends. When they arrive home on Friday, they will be exhausted, but so excited to share all of the camp songs with you (prepare yourself for lots of loud, enthusiastic singing). They will have new friends they want you to meet and they will tell you camp stories they will always cherish.
In Northwest Florida, there are two 4-H Camps, Camp Cherry Lake in Madison and Camp Timpoochee in Niceville. Each county in these camping districts has one county week of camp each summer. Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office now to find out the details and register your child for a week of fun and memories.
Northwest Florida 4-H Camp Dates 2019. Photo source: UF/IFAS Extension