By: Kalin Goble, M.S.
Continuing to find optimism, hope, and support from the Sesame Street community!
Sesame Street’s dedication to the healthy development of children and families has been reflected in the vibrant, relatable, relevant programming they have provided for more than 50 years. While Sesame Street has always been a resource for children and parents, Sesame Street in Communities is a research-based component of the organization providing parents, caregivers, service providers, and community members with resources, trainings, strategies, and overall support. Sesame’s newest endeavor is the Caring for Each Other Initiative, created in response to COVID-19. It offers a compilation of programming and resources tailored to help children and families during this time.
Caring for Each Other provides easy-to-use, online tips, and tricks for families spending more time together than ever before. Each resource incorporates examples that can be threaded into daily routines and conversations. The free content provided in the toolkits includes access to eBooks, interactive storytime animations, articles, printable activities, guides, and blog posts. Below are some of the useful toolkits you can find on the website!
For Parents and Caregivers:
Making an Emergency Kit & Plan
Having a concrete plan when things become uncertain can help families feel more prepared and less panicked. This printable provides a suggested list of important items that families need during times of uncertainty, such as health emergencies or natural disasters. The list also includes items important for children. You can use this printable to discuss with your family the things you would need most during an emergency. Items important to children are also listed. Using this list, parents and caregivers can begin conversations that will allow space for each member of the family to talk through their needs.
Tips for Parent/Caregiver Self-Care
The “big idea” of this kit is the importance of finding balance and prioritizing your mental health. This article explores ideas for small gestures of self-love and how important those moments are for both you and your family’s well-being. Tips such as giving yourself a hand massage and taking deep breaths as your child splashes around at bath time are easy, everyday things you can do for small acts of self-care. During a period when finding time to be alone can be difficult, Sesame Street offers little ideas to incorporate in your everyday life that can help when you’re feeling overwhelmed or just need a few moments to yourself.
Managing Uncertainty: Embracing a “For-Now Normal”
Routines are important, especially when facing change and uncertainty. As most of our “daily rhythms” have changed, it’s important to adapt and find ways to practice patience with yourself and your loved ones. Read the article on embracing the “for now” normal here. The Health Emergencies toolkit also features a workshop on “For-Now” Routines. This module consists of articles, interactive activities, printable routine planners, and conversation cards. These resources can help families begin a conversation on what each member needs throughout the day and how to work together to create routines, boundaries, and understandings of each other’s daily needs and goals!
This color sheet gives children a sing-along song from Elmo that informs them of the importance of washing their hands for at least 20 seconds. The “big ideas” is to teach children that washing their hands is one of the best ways they can stay safe. Make it a fun activity: You can tape this color sheet up by a skink for all to see! If you can’t print it, learn the song and sing it together or write out a few of the lyrics and draw some bubbles! You can also find another song (like Happy Birthday) to sing together when washing your hands. Other printables include Sneezing & Coughing Safely and the Talking to Children About COVID-19 outline and tips sheet.
Learning at Home: Brain Builder
The Caring for Each Other resource page also includes “Learning at Home” workshops covering a variety of educational topics, such as reading, math, science, physical movement, playtime, and other brain builders. These topic-based modules provide fun learning at home interactive games, printables, and informative articles. The “Brain Builders” module includes an interactive game, in which Elmo and his friends learn about paying attention and staying focused, reasoning, and building memory skills. The “animal antics” printable in this module instructs children to act out animals as they color, a task created around promoting creativity, language skills, and coordination. As your child is learning and growing more than ever in their own home, these activities will give families fun ways to “build their brains” and provide parents with important information and realistic every-day ideas to help their child best succeed and accomplish educational goals at home.
For service providers working with families…
You can utilize all of the resources mentioned above can be in your work with clients. If your client is struggling with specific issues, such as stress, finding school/home balance with their child, or educating their child on current topics and health news, there are topic-driven activities, ideas, and information available to them through Sesame’s freely accessible Caring for Each Other initiative.
Working with your client via the web? Visit the Health Emergencies kit from Sesame Street in Communities, find a few activities that your client may benefit from, and send those links their way! Sesame Street also offers free online resources for other areas impacting parents, children, and families. Explore other topic-focused resources here.
For providers working on professional development, visit our Kids Serve Too! Series homepage here to learn more about our collaboration with Sesame Street for Military Families! Archived webinars are available on topics including strategies related to community violence, military relocation, military caregiving, and young children with special needs. Click the titles and visit the webinar event pages for details of the opportunities we offer for obtaining free continuing education credit!