How to Keep Your Kids Smart, Happy, and Strong During the Pandemic

COVID-19 and being cooped up with your kids at home have created some unique challenges for parents. With school closures, many parents are wondering how to help their kids get through this time with positivity. What about their education? How do you keep your kids engaged and excited about learning when they could be watching movies on the couch? 

Keeping your kids healthy, active, and engaged while at home can seem like an impossible challenge, especially for the parents trying to work from home at the same time! But with a bit of planning, home learning can be just as fun as school — or maybe even more fun!.

Create a Schedule

A schedule is essential when learning or working from home — especially if it’s flexible. That flexibility is crucial to getting your child excited and eager to follow. With some routine, you can more easily keep your child on track, and it doesn’t need to be rigid. A loose plan helps children to stay on task when they know that they have free time coming up. Think about the schedule that they have at school and try to create something similar.

Opt for Interactive Learning

There are many ways to make “boring” school subjects fun. Home is a great place for science, math, and many other subjects. For instance, the kitchen is the perfect spot for some fun science experiments. These can help children to learn about chemistry and biology interactively and engagingly. 

We also recommend coming up with project ideas. In these projects, your child can delve into any topic that interests them through self-directed research. After, they can create a little presentation for sharing what they’ve learned with you. This is a fantastic way to work on presentation and communication skills, as well as research skills and knowledge on the chosen subject. 

 Dolphin Kids™ will be providing live interactive online life skills sessions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Kids Helping Kids Initiative provides youth with a platform to virtually connect and share their knowledge with children across Canada and around the world! Youth Ambassadors for the initiative have taught classes in public speaking, debate, coding, art, crafts, virtual tours, math skills, Model UN, entrepreneurship, and storytelling, You can find more information regarding these sessions on Facebook or Instagram

Incorporate Group Work Where Possible

Group work is so beneficial for children. Look for a way to keep your children in touch with their friends when they’re home for an extended period. Thankfully, the modern world makes it very easy with things like video chat. Video chats with friends are an excellent example of positive technology use. Another fun activity for children is writing letters to their friends.

“For the young brain, social interaction is a powerful amplifier of reward, and peer group interactions increase dopamine release.” – The Dolphin Parent 

Accept Technology’s Help

Technology can be extremely beneficial to help you keep your child learning. There are many online resources to help parents create fun and informative lessons for their children, such as Khan Academy, a resource for parents to find remote learning programs for children aged 2 to 18.

Many programs also offer fun learning computer games for children. Prodigy is an excellent example of a fun, math specific computer game for kids. Many museums are also offering virtual tours right now for free, and National Geographic has a great kid’s website.  

Embrace Boredom

Sometimes, as parents, we’re so fearful of our children feeling bored that we forget there’s a benefit to boredom. Boredom is a necessary part of development for children. It’s a time when children slow down and puzzle through some of their experiences or find creative ways to entertain themselves. 

“Many parents tell me they keep their children busy because, otherwise, they become bored or anxious. These parents are just setting up their children for a lifetime of needing to be busy to deal with boredom and anxiety, which are normal parts of life. Engaging in hobbies and sports is great, but being so busy that little time is left to engage in life is terrible.” – The Dolphin Parent

We get it, having your kids cooped up at home and getting bored can be a nightmare for parents. “Mom, I’m bored!” “Dad, come play with me.” “Mom, Dad, can we go do (insert fun activity here).”

So to summarize, when going somewhere to do something fun with their friends isn’t an option, the trick to keeping them engaged is to have a basic routine and plan that your child is ready to follow. This should include free time for play as well as blocks of time dedicated to learning. Learning is going to be different at home. There are more distractions, and it doesn’t feel like a space to sit down and study like school is. Try to make learning fun through helpful technology-based resources and hands-on experimental learning. Crafts are also an excellent activity to fill up some time. 
If you’d like to join in on the Dolphin Kids™ live sessions, or Kids Helping Kids Initiative, please get in touch to get the details. We’d love to help you during this confusing and ever-changing time.

6 Essential Tips to Achieving Healthy Parent-Child Communication

healthy communication

As parents, we talk with our children every single day — but the question is are we truly communicating with them? Studies show that communicating with our children right from birth is critical for development. And most of us find that as our children get older, communication becomes more strained. Asking your teenager how their day was and hearing “fine” in return is not a conversation — nor is having only text conversations. And since we tend to be on our devices more than we should, we’re missing out on important opportunities to communicate with our children. Few things are more valuable to your child (of any age) than the chance to talk with one of their parents.

Here are some tips for healthy parent–child communication.

Put Your Devices Down & Listen

Whenever you have a conversation with your child — even if it’s just a casual chat — turn off the TV and other distractions and don’t look at your phone if it goes off. Show your child that you’re giving them your attention and not feel like they’re competing with something or someone else.

Respond in a Sensitive Way

Really listen to what your child has to say and respond in a way that provides them comfort and validates their feelings. If they’ve done something wrong, resist getting angry. Provide some feedback and help them come up with a solution on how to right that wrong and set a fair punishment, if needed. The same goes for if they’re sharing something embarrassing. Instead of laughing or trying to one-up their story, it’s best to first respond by validating their emotions, such as “That does sound embarrassing.” Or “I understand why you’re upset.”

By not resorting to yelling or other insensitive behaviour, your child is much more likely to share their problems with you in the future. Understanding the Dolphin Kids™ K.E.Y.S. is an excellent place to start learning how to put yourself in your kids shoes and empathize more with what they’re going through.

Give Praise

When our children start to walk, talk, read, and write, we tend to shower them with praise. But when our teenagers do something new, we often pass the praise quickly — and sometimes, not at all. Although your teenager may say they don’t care what you think, they do. They like and want to hear that you’re proud of them. Look for opportunities to provide encouragement  (just don’t gush too much) for what they’re doing. They’ll start to want to share their achievements with you more.

Don’t Give Them All the Answers

It’s essential for your kids to feel comfortable enough to come to you with their problems. However, if you always take the reins and solve all their problems, they’ll never learn how to solve problems themselves. Help them come up with solutions and talk ideas through. 

This will give them the skills they need in the future while continuing to come to you as they trust your guidance.

Share Regular Family Meals

Families who dine together on a regular basis typically communicate better. Even if it’s only once or twice a week, make a firm date for the entire family to get together and share a meal where everyone sits at the table and all devices are off. This opens up the lines of communication and provides an opportunity for everyone to share their ups and downs of the week. 

Know the Right Time & Place

As kids get older, they may be more embarrassed and reluctant to share their problems with you by actually sitting down and talking. However, they may be more likely to open up if they don’t feel like they’re being ambushed. A lot of teenagers will communicate more while commuting in the car or helping do the dishes rather than in a face-to-face conversation. Use opportunities like these to start chatting to your teenager.Healthy communication shouldn’t be hard, but it does take some thought to make sure your kids are feeling heard and willing to open up these lines of communication with you. If you’re looking for more ways to communicate and increase your chances of raising healthy, happy, strong, motivated kids, check out the workshops and programs Dolphin Kids has to offer.

7 Tips on Preventing Teacher Burnout and Coping with Stress

Teaching is a profession that can be extremely rewarding — but also very stressful. Studies show that 91% of US teachers report excess workload being a major contributing factor to their stress and that 15% of US teachers leave the profession every single year due to stress and burnout. Other countries show similar statistics. 

Fortunately, there are some proven ways to cope with stress to prevent teacher burnout:

Set Firm Prep Times

If you’ve allowed yourself 30 minutes after each school day to look over the day’s assignments and prepare for the next day, make sure you use those 30 minutes. Close the door, and put your phone and other personal projects away. Of course, we must all take into account staff meetings or parent-teacher conferences, but otherwise, keep to your schedule. 

By using those 30 minutes productively, you can set yourself up for success the following day AND reduce your stress levels when you go home.

Delegate & Join Forces

If you have a parent volunteer in your classroom, give them some tasks — that’s what they’re there for! They can change the classroom decor, sort projects, mark straightforward assignments, photocopy handouts, and other small jobs that take up your time. By freeing your hands of small tasks, you can use that time to mark papers, connect with students, and prepare the next day’s lesson plan.

And if you know other teachers teaching the same grade as you, see if you can pair up with them — perhaps even if they’re at a different school. There’s a good chance you’ll have the same material to teach throughout the year, so you can take turns making lesson plans you can both use.

Surround Yourself With Positive People

This is essential in all aspects of your life; however, this is especially true at work when you’re already feeling extra stressed. Some people will always find something to complain about, and it’s very easy to start sharing your own complaints and commiserating with these people when you’re around them. Try your best to avoid the negativity. Instead, simply excuse yourself once they start and draw firm boundaries.

Find people in all parts of your life who focus on the positive and are a lot more joyful to be around.

Organize the Rest of Your Life

We’ve all stood in front of our closet wondering what to wear that day, but that’s just going to cause more delays and stress. Instead, try laying out your clothes and setting out everything you need the night before. This will help you get through your morning a bit easier. Also, get in the habit of setting aside some downtime to refresh your batteries. This can include anything from getting enough sleep with a bedtime routine to scheduling in quality time with friends and family.

Just make sure not to overschedule yourself! It may sound counterintuitive, but even doing too much fun stuff can lead to burnout.

Practice Mindfulness

We’ve talked before about how mindfulness is so important, and bringing it into the classroom can be excellent for both you and the kids you’re teaching. You’ll all notice the incredible benefits, and your days should go a bit more smoothly.

Schedule Downtime

During the week, it’s tough to practice good self-care. However, by scheduling some time during the evenings or weekends to do things you enjoy and make you feel good, you can ensure you feel rested and calm for the coming day or week. It could be as simple as reading a book, going to the spa, taking a walk in nature, or meditating for 15 minutes.

Take a Workshop

At Dolphin Kids, we offer a variety of workshops for teachers, parents, and children to help cultivate mindfulness and help everyone function at their very best. Our programs can help teachers maintain optimal mental health and prevent burnout. Contact us today for more information.

Coping With Stress as Parents: How to Take Care of YOU!

coping with stress
coping with stress

As a parent, you hold many responsibilities and likely feel a lot of anxiety about what’s on your to-do list. Parenting is a full-time job, and like any job, it can be stressful — very stressful. In fact, one study we discovered shows that parents feel stressed about six different times per day because of their kids!

With all this stress, it’s essential that you take care of yourself first to be able to manage all your responsibilities effectively. Here are some strategies you can use to help you get some much-needed downtime and natural stress relief.

Take Time to Play

Dolphin Kids encourages everyone of any age to take time each and every day to play. This can mean whatever you want it to, but make sure you schedule it into your day, every day. This can easily be one of the best things to do to help with any anxiety you feel. Play also helps to build self-esteem and ignite creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

Try dancing around to music, playing a game on the computer, or doing whatever you want for at least 30 minutes every day — longer if you can. Put your play time into your schedule and make it non-negotiable. You may have to get up before everyone else in the house, wait until after the kids go to bed, or make sure everyone else in your home has set up their own play time and knows to leave you alone during this time.

Practice Mindfulness

We’re big on mindfulness! Being mindful is as simple as stopping occasionally to take a few deep breaths. If you have a few moments, go outside and breathe in some air or take a short nature walk. Practicing mindfulness helps us control our reactions and be more present with our children.

So often, when we’re busy, we go through life on autopilot. We don’t take any time to appreciate the moments in our life that bring us joy. Taking a few short mindfulness breaks each day will help you finish the day feeling calmer and more in control of coping with the stress that comes along with your busy life.

Reduce Your Kids’ Schedules

Chances are, you’re running your kids around to all sorts of events and activities. These days, it seems like a lot of children are overscheduled and participating in activities they don’t really enjoy. Have a sit down with each of your children and your spouse and talk about which activities they really enjoy.

Cutting down on their activities not only frees up their time for creative play and doing things they truly enjoy doing, but it should also free up some time for you.

Delegate What You Can

Are your kids old enough to take on some more chores? Do you have some extra money set aside to pay for a housecleaner or other help to come in once a week or so? Can you get a meal service to bring you healthy meals a few times a week?

You’ve probably gotten so used to doing everything yourself that you likely don’t realize how much you could pass along to other people.

Plan Some Family Fun 

At least once a week, schedule time for your whole family to be together for some quality time. Plan something that you all enjoy doing — or switch it up every week. You could go swimming, go on a nature walk, do a puzzle, go on a picnic, or even make some popcorn and watch a movie.

This will help you get back on track with your family and give you all a bit of time to recharge together.

Plan Some Time Out

Even if it’s only once a month, plan a date night with your spouse. Hire a babysitter or exchange some babysitting duties with another set of parents and use this chance to reconnect with each other. This is a perfect time to do the things you enjoyed doing before you had kids.

It’s also important to plan an afternoon or evening out with your best friend or a group of friends on occasion. Having some great chats over a walk, a meal, or an activity will guarantee some laughs and a fantastic chance to recharge your batteries. For more information about Dolphin Kids workshops for parents on mindfulness and a variety of other subjects, check out our full list of programs here.