Do you ever struggle with what to do in tough parenting situations?
Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence has created cue cards to help parents navigate difficult parent-child situations. You can receive some fantastic advice on the following topics if your child struggles with…
- Time and Organization
- Attitude and Defiance
- Screen Time
- Sibling Rivalry
- Peer Pressure
- Risky Behaviors
As you share these teachings and techniques with your young ones, remember that mindfulness for kids is going to look much different than our adult practices do. There will likely be more laughter, more spontaneity, and more playfulness. Welcome these with an open heart and let the lightness of this youthful energy inspire you in your own practice.
1. Create a gratitude jar.
With your child, fill a glass jar with small colored pieces of paper, each that has written upon it one thing the young one is grateful for. This can be done in a single sitting or over the course of a month with a new expression of gratitude added each day.
When the jar is full, let it sit in a place to be seen – a reminder of all the blessings one has. On a rainy day, you might come back to the jar, pouring out its contents and reading each piece of paper with your child.
2. Take a walk in nature.
Simply taking an open and curious walk through nature is a wonderful way to explore mindfulness with children. As you walk through the woods, along a beach, or through any other setting, invite your child to point out what makes him or her feel happy, curious, nervous, or excited.
You might also take this time to tune into other senses, such as smell, touch, and sound, imbuing your walk with full presence and curiosity.
3. Get messy with paints.
Through creative expression, children and adults alike naturally tune into their emotions and intuition. Organize a paint afternoon, inviting your child to express themselves through painting in any way that they feel called to. You might deepen this exploration by asking them how certain colors, shapes, or textures make them feel. Revel in whatever expresses itself through them.
4. Share a slow snack.
Another exercise that is great for kids is slow, mindful eating. Have fun with this, inviting your child to smell, feel, and explore a small piece of food (i.e. a berry or a cracker) before slowly bringing it to their tongue. Invite them to chew slowly and to notice what the flavors, the textures, and the experience of slow eating itself are like.
5. Harness the power of imagination through creative visualizations.
Guided visualization is another wonderful mindfulness for kids practice. This is something you can guide yourself or explore through the use of a pre-recorded guided meditation. This type of practice can harness your child’s innate capacity for imagination while guiding it in fruitful and inspiring ways.
6. Try ‘teddy bear’ breathing.
A fun way to help kids explore deep belly breathing is through ‘teddy bear’ breathing. Invite your child to rest on their back, placing their favorite stuffed animal on their belly. Then, guide them to breathe slowly and steadily, letting the stuffed toy rise and fall as their stomach does. This technique is also referred to as ‘buddy breathing’.
7. Practice mindful movement together.
Lastly, a wonderful way to help children to connect with their bodies mindfully is through movement. Explore kid-friendly yoga poses or create space for free-flowing dance parties. You can play around with different pieces of music and instruments, inviting your child to express themselves in whatever ways feel safe and natural to them.
For more resources on this subject or for kid-friendly practices, you might consider:
Early Childhood Videos
Would you rather someone else read to your child? There are a number of different narrated books and videos on the Storyline Online website! Which book or video will your child choose today?
Sunflower Word Family
Kids just learning to read can explore different sound combinations with a word-family sunflower. Write word endings on the petals, fill a paper-plate center with all the letters of the alphabet, then let kids spin and read the results.
Pipe Cleaner Constellations
Lots of classrooms make students create dioramas of the solar system, but what about mapping out other celestial bodies? This activity uses pipe cleaners and beads to give kids a hands-on way to learn how stars connect to form different constellations.
Sight Word Craft-Stick Puzzles
LEGO Coding Maze
You don’t need screens or apps to show kids the foundations of coding. Set up a simple LEGO maze, and give kids commands to get a mini-figure to go through it. The mazes and concepts can get more sophisticated as the child gets older.
LIFE OVER C’S
One way to sharpen those map-reading skills? Hide a treasure in the backyard and have the kids use a map to find it. It’s even better if they can hide something from you and draw the map themselves.
Not only will these beautiful blooms help kids visualize their fractions, it’ll teach them equivalents: Two one-eighth peals will be the same size as a one-fourth petal, for example. Not into flowers? Try pizza slices.
Get their brains and bodies working at the same time! Hop from letter to letter to spell out different sight words.
Ready for some spy missions? An easy decoder wheel lets kids write and decipher secret messages. From there, you can move on to other types of codes, or talk about how cryptography has been used in history.
Word/Definition Memory Game
Practice two skills at once: Write new vocabulary words on one card, definitions on another, and then play a traditional Memory game. You can also do this with synonyms and antonyms.
Pop Top Math Game
This game is so simple to set up: Stick math equations on the top of a bottle cap, and write the answers inside. Then, if a student answers a math fact correctly, they get to keep the top. If not, it stays in the pile. The player with the most caps at the end of the game wins.
A delicious lesson in geometry, you can use mini-marshmallows and toothpicks (or small pretzel rods) to build different shapes. As kids get more advanced, they can move from 2D to 3D creations.
Forensics 101: Leave a fingerprint on a drinking glass — it helps if your fingers are a little greasy, so pizza night is the perfect time to try this out — then have your kids use flour and a paintbrush to “dust” the glass for prints. You can even try to “lift” the fingerprint with a piece of tape and transfer it to a piece of construction paper. You can talk about the common patterns found in fingerprints, and how prints are used by law enforcement.
The great thing about this activity is that kids can do it independently, whenever they have a few minutes (like in the car): Write out a series of math problems on craft sticks to give kids a chance to practice doing math in their heads. See how many sticks they can get through in a certain period of time.
To learn more about these activities, please read “20 Fun Learning Activities for Kids to Enjoy at Home“.
Free Online Events and Activities
Due to the many closures and cancellations that happened in the wake of COVID-19, you may be looking for engaging ways to keep your children reading, exploring, and learning at home. The GRPS Family and Community Engagement office took a deep dive into the numerous free and engaging educational tools available online. We created this guide especially for GRPS parents and caregivers to recommend resources you can check out with your kids from the safety of your home.
For a comprehensive list of optional online enrichment resources, please visit http://resources.grps.org. Resources are organized by grade level and content area.
If you need assistance accessing materials or technology, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (616) 301-1111.
In addition, Comcast and AT&T are offering reduced price internet for qualifying households during this period of closure. To learn more about these options, please contact them directly at:
- Comcast – visit their website or call 1-855-846-8376
- AT&T – visit their website or call 800.331.0500
Virtual Tours in Grand Rapids and Throughout Michigan
- Check out this cool Socially Distant Science and Adventure video series from Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy
- West Michigan Live Cameras – click to view live footage of Mackinac Island, Charlevoix, Traverse City, Battle Creek, Drummond Island, and more!
- This article is great: “7 Ways to Enjoy Traverse City from Home”
- Be sure to check out the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s Art in Your Inbox project
- Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is filming their Butterfly exhibit and hosting daily live Virtual Visits on Facebook.
- Also, take a peek at Pure Michigan’s 360° videos
- Take a virtual visit to The Henry Ford Museum
Virtual Experiences Around the World
- American National Parks
- The Great Wall of China
- The Louvre museum in Paris, France
- Tour of Mars from pictures from NASA’s Curiosity rover
- The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
- The Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, Spain
- The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
- The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA.
- Interactive virtual tours through Georgia’s forests
- Numerous national parks around the country (compiled by Diply)
Support Your Child’s Reading and Writing
- Definitely consider participating in GRPL’s 2020 Summer Reading Challenge
- The Libby app will allow you and your family to access digital books and audio books from GRPL and KDL while the libraries are closed.
- 103 Things to Do Before, During, or After Reading
- Scholastic Learn-at-Home has resources for children PreK-grade 6
- This AWESOME Google Doc compiled a list of authors and illustrators going live
- The Story Starter will get your creative juices flowing
- Storyline Online is a literacy initiative where actors and celebrities read popular children’s books
- We Are Teachers provides a long list of authors and celebrities reading picture books
- View At-Home Literacy Activities
Make Math and Science Fun!
- Toy Theater
- PBS K-8 Mathematics
- Math Game Time
- Cool Math Games
- Arkansas virtual nature center
- Animal Cams (compiled by Animal Journal) – click for a cool collection of videos of bears, jellyfish, sea otters, eagles, and more!
- Keeping a Field Journal is another way you can support your child’s science (and math!) skills
- Kids Code!
- You HAVE to see what’s happening in Carson Ellis’ Quarantine Art Club
- 30 Day Lego Challenge
- KidsDiscover website
Screen-free Activities for Your Children:
- Rebel Girls providing 90+ writing/drawing/DIY prompts (sign up via email)
- Making play-dough at home
- Walt Disney Family Museum, drawing and animation resources for families
- New York MoMA art-making activities for families inspired by modern art