Online/Virtual activities for kids

In early December we cancelled all but two of our kids' after-school activities  as we wanted to change up the activities a bit and take a break for a couple of months and enroll in different ones in late Jan.  We then got busy and did not get around to re-enrolling in activities.  Now it is April and the pandemic is happening.  On the bright side I don't have the usual number of after school activity vendors to pay since my kids were no longer enrolled (we are still paying the two activities we kept to support them and getting limited services online though as those are sports it is not the same), but the kids are also bored as remote learning only takes up half the day and both parents are still working from home.  My kids are early elementary school aged.  Do you like your kids' online/virtual activities and think they are worth it even though they are done remotely, and if so what are they?  Or does it makes sense to not enroll in anything new now and wait to enroll in new activities in the fall when hopefully the shelter in place is lifted and the activities are back to being done in person?   

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Classroom Matters, an excellent place which offers classes, workshops, and one-on-one learning support, has just pivoted to on-line supports and learning. I have always been super-impressed with them and their community supports, and know so many parents who sing their praises on the quality of support their kids get from them. A number of things they're offering are free, and they also offer need-based scholarships. Check their website for courses they've got up now.

I highly recommend Yama Kids Yoga. Beth is fantastic and offers all age groups. She has gone virtual and when this is over you can easily switch to in person. She is fun and silly and a really good instructor. 

I’m a board member with the Homeschool Assocation of CA. We have our top 5 tips for crisis schooling to share and we have a living document that gets added to daily where we are keeping track of the mostly free online resources being offered to families at home now by individuals, vendors, institutions, and companies.

Top 5 tips for Quarantine Homeschooling 

  1. Don’t attempt to replicate school at home

    1. The world is normally our classroom, this is different

    2. Let go of expectations, you don’t have 30 students, you are a facilitator of learning and your child’s parent, not a traditional “teacher”

    3. It’s going to be messy, and that’s ok

    4. Don’t worry about being “behind”, everyone’s in the same boat

  2. Be gentle with yourself, your child, your partner, and your coworkers

    1. We are in an unprecedented situation and everyone, including your children, is under stress

    2. Both parents should share child care and homeschooling to support each other

  3. Ask your children what they’d like to learn

    1. Trying doing “real life” (cooking, chores, gardening, sewing, fixing things, etc.)

    2. Also, read, play, invent, make, build, sing, dance, experiment, have fun!

    3. This document has loads of resources for those who are suddenly homeschooling

  4. Learning doesn’t only happen with a book at a desk

    1. Try something different, your kids will learn no matter what you end up doing

    2. Self-directed learning is the best kind, what is your child passionate about?

  5. Be flexible

    1. Share child duties so each parent has focused work time

    2. Use the internet or games as a tool, but don’t feel guilty if you need to rely on them at times to get things done

    3. Academics and learning doesn’t have to take place only during regular school hours

I am getting so many mailings about kid activities although my kid is grown up.
Check out science museums, such as chabot in Oakland, or Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, Scotland or the computer history museum in mountain view.
You can now look at programs all over the world.
Art museums also have things and if you can afford to pay for some of these, it's win win. Many are free but would appreciate donations. I have heard of online karate as well, drama classes (high school, Berkeley rep), etc. There are also Barre and other dance classes being offered by some places.

Studio Naga (a martial arts studio) did a quick pivot from live to virtual the day Shelter In Place was called.  Since then they've kept to their schedule for kids classes 3 times a week as well as adding kids/family meditation classes every weekday morning.  The classes begin with the whole group warming up together, then put in smaller groups so the kids can get more focused attention from a black belt.  Class ends back in big group to talk/feel sense of community.

Kids love it and remains a part of their routine.  Also, kids who've moved away have come back to class to feel sense of community and to do something they haven't had a chance to do in awhile.  Also, there have been new enrollees to keep their kids active and engaged throughout the week.  As one of the instructors, I love it because it provides a principal from this art -- to put service in front of ego -- and as an instructor, enjoy leading the meditations as teach one of the kids classes.

Feel free to connect with Louise Rafkin of Studio Naga to get more information. and 510.652.6242.

A good mom friend who is an art therapist in New York has created a FREE art activities website, which is intended primarily for kids ages 5-11, although it can be fun outside of this age group (including parents!).  There is no financial incentive for my friend; she just did this to help out.  Enjoy!