7960945885?profile=originalSecond-grade teachers Marie Boslow and Lizzie Paskal work in one the courtyards at Gulf Stream School on March 16, to organize take-home packets for their students to use while the school is closed. All Palm Beach County schools are closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Rachel S. O'Hara/The Coastal Star

By Janis Fontaine

As you self-isolate, you’re going to be looking for things to do at home with the kids.

Part of the time you’ll be homeschooling, and plenty of resources are available through your child’s school and online, including top education sites like Ted-Ed, Brain Pop, Khan Academy, Scholastic Learn at Home and Quizlet.

But what about the rest of the time? A new series of free online programs called Keep Kids Smart with ART is being offered by the team at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Connect with it at www.bocamuseum.org/covid-19-status-update.

Its goal is to help parents and their children by providing visual arts programs.

Experts say art can help us deal with difficult emotions, and Executive Director Irvin Lippman said the museum will support the community by creating new virtual enriching experiences online.

Library resources

Our libraries may be closed, but they have tons of content, available in traditional and digital form. The Boca Raton Public Library has an extensive learning platform for students at www.myboca.us/963/Digital-Library.

There is also a vast selection of audio- and e-books, music, newspapers and magazines, movies and TV shows available to download with your library card. Not sure how to use it? Video tutorials are available on demand for many of the digital services and research databases.

The Highland Beach Library canceled all events and community meetings until May 1. On March 18, the library cut its hours to 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, but materials are available only by calling or emailing the library with your request for pickup. You can search for available materials via the online catalog, and the library staff will assist residents with downloading e-books. 

If you must have a paper book, the library will provide a pickup time to collect materials from a restricted area at the entrance. For more information, visit https://highlandbeach.us/departments/library/.

The Lantana Public Library at 205 W. Ocean Ave. is closed until further notice, but will offer walk-up services during normal library hours for those who call ahead. Patrons can place books on hold via the library’s Koha system, or call 561-540-5740 to make arrangements. The library will offer virtual story-time and other children’s activities on its Facebook page.

Online instruction

In response to school closures, Delray Beach-based Space of Mind, a modern schoolhouse, is offering personalized online teaching, enrichment activities and standards-based curriculum for students grades 1-12, as well as coaching and programming for parents and families. 

In addition to offering programs for all mainstream learners, SOM personalizes its curriculum to serve students with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, visual and auditory processing challenges, anxiety, dyslexia, giftedness and the like. Online courses are taught live in small groups that are tailored by learning style.

Space of Mind is at 102 N. Swinton Ave. For info, call 877-407-1122 or visit http://findspaceofmind.com.

Other ideas

Connect the generations: This stay-at-home mandate won’t go away as quickly as you’d like, so this may be the time to undertake a long-term project like researching your family history.

Sandwich-generation parents — with both school-age kids and elderly parents — can make it a family project by connecting the two groups. Have kids ask questions and use the Boca Raton library’s new genealogy tool, MyHeritage Library Edition, to access one of the largest, most internationally diverse genealogy databases in the world. Find it under the Online Resources link on the library’s website.

Craft a solution: If the Boca museum’s art classes are a little too challenging, consider an easy craft. Research shows that purposeful use of the hands can decrease stress, relieve anxiety and lessen depression. From knitting to needlepoint, rock painting to fashion design, now might be the perfect time to rekindle an old interest or kick-start a new one.

With the area’s supply chain semi-intact, yarn and crochet hooks will cost just a few bucks if you haven’t stockpiled craft materials in the spare bedroom. Don’t know how to knit? YouTube it. Or perhaps Grandma knows. Hook her up with the kids on Google or FaceTime. And there’s a bonus at the end — like a handmade winter scarf for future travel or gifting.

Take a fresh-air approach: Doctors and mental health professionals agree that fresh air and sunshine (needed to process Vitamin D) and spending time in nature are important to staying healthy.

Playgrounds may be off-limits, but you can use your yard to play with the kids. Get out the soccer ball, the baseball and glove, put the basketball net back up, and take the kids out to play. Easy sports for kids and parents like badminton, croquet, bocce, cornhole and pingpong can reduce stress and anxiety. Even easier? Take a walk or a bike ride.

Use distraction: It seems counterintuitive, but keeping the hands busy lets the mind rest. Dig out that 1,000-piece puzzle you got as a secret Santa gift. And don’t forget the board games.

Find joy in cooking: Since you’ll likely be cooking and eating more at home, make it a family thing. Cooking and baking can challenge math and problem-solving skills, and kids are more likely to eat something they had a hand in preparing.

Meditate on it: Even young kids can learn to quiet their minds. A few minutes spent in a quiet, comfortable position paying attention to your breathing can help lower blood pressure and reduce the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Start with two minutes and work up from there. Try to keep it positive, but don’t discourage talk about fears and anxiety.

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