virtual learning

There’s a new urgency to explore online educational tools and best practices because of the coronavirus pandemic for virtual learning. This is a “new normal” for everyone and really there’s nothing about all of this virtual schooling during a pandemic crisis that is “normal.” We’ve put together 6 helpful tips to help engage your kids with virtual, online learning.

6 tips to help engage kids with virtual learning:

1. Setting Up a Good Routine is Key

Without the same need to get ready for a normal school day, and with everyone being home all the time (for the most part), it’s all too easy to let go what used to be normal routines. But having a routine is helpful for kids. Come up with a routine and stick to it, including a time for going to bed and getting up in the morning, breakfast, snack time and other meals, free play, outdoor activities, etc. The daily routine doesn’t have to be the same as it was during the pre-COVID school year, but it needs to be regular and you have to stick to it. This is really important for kids of all ages.

2. Setting up Devices & Space for Virtual Learning

Your child needs a computer or type of laptop / good tablet for virtual leaning. A phone isn’t the right tool for online learning. If providing a computer / good tablet is an issue for your family, contact your school because the school district is responsible for ensuring students who need equipment get it. But there is also the matter of internet access. Not every household has a reliable internet connection available. Again, if this is an issue for your household, contact your school to see what’s possible. There have been a lot of creative workarounds to these issues, so it’s likely a solution can be found.

As for the “space” where learning will take place. Put a little design effort into creating the right virtual education site in your home. Lying in bed or on the couch with a laptop or tablet is not sustainable or productive. Your child needs to sit comfortably and upright in a supportive chair with their device in front of them. We’ve seen some pretty creative ideas like the ones below of creating virtual learning “pods” in the home. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3. Creating Online Safety 

Kids at home with virtual learning are spending a lot of time on the internet. This puts them at even greater risk or all kinds of online problems, including cyber bullying and harassment, sexual predation and exposure to pornography,  fraud and identity theft, or getting hacked. As parents, you should have access to all their different online accounts, meaning you have their login credentials and can go in and actively monitor who they’re connected with and what kinds of interactions they are having online. Talk to them about why this is important and how they should always immediately come to you for anything.

4. Maintaining Focus & Motivation 

Kids may be feeling “down” during this “new normal” of virtual learning. Kids miss being with other kids and their friends, school, sports, etc. It may be hard to feel motivated for online learning and to focus with all of these feelings and changes. Plus there’s even more distractions at home and online learning. 

You can help your kids maintain focus and motivation during online learning hours by once again creating a routine, monitoring cellphone and technology usage outside of online learning, and promoting positive attitudes around the house as much as possible.

5. Creating Interaction 

For creating interaction, you can set up virtual playdates or online group homework or study-buddy sessions. Set up playdates outside at the park with small groups. Peer interaction is a valuable benefit some finding ways to incorporate that weekly is important. 

6. Monitoring  Online Learning

Nothing about all of this virtual schooling during a pandemic crisis is normal for anyone. The most important thing you can do is monitor how your kids are doing with this new form of education. Observe them. See how engaged they are. Are they taking notes? Are they asking questions? Are they sad? Are they angry? Are they just zoning out? Identify the hang-ups and challenges and then think about what you can do to help them through those. It’s not normal and everyone has a little more stress right now. It’s important to be flexible and forgiving, and as always HOPE is here.

Georgia HOPE specializes in providing quality mental health services for children, adults, individuals and families in the state of Georgia. To learn more, enroll, or refer someone to us, contact us below:

 

 

self care

For young adults, self-care isn’t always a priority. The pressures of school and/or starting a job can make basic self-care seem more like a luxury than a necessity. But making a commitment to incorporate self-care practices into your daily routine can create a positive difference not just now, but for the rest of your life.

It’s easy to think that self-care is just about getting your hair done, bubble baths or pedicures (while those are good!). It’s also about creating sustainable habits that can be incorporated daily into your schedule to boost your mental health and overall well being.

Here are 5 self-care practices to incorporate into your life daily:

1. Sleep, Nutrition & Exercise

In the midst of our busy routines, it’s easy to lose touch with what we need on the most basic level in physical self-care. Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are essential to your health and wellness. Are you getting enough sleep and nourishing your body? If not, look at ways to adjust your schedule and improve your eating habits.

Even more, moving your body, exercising, physical activity for just 20 minutes a day benefits not only your physical health but mental health as well. In fact, exercise increases the body’s production of endorphins, what tells your brain to “feel good.”

2. Mindfulness & Relaxation

Learning to slow down and appreciate each moment, and relax at times is a game changer to your mental health. It helps recharge you mental batteries.

Here are ways you can incorporate mindfulness and relaxation self-care practices into your daily routine:

  1. Breathing: Before you brush your teeth in the morning and at night, take three slow, deep breaths. You can also do this at other moments of your day too!
  2. Activating your senses: While you’re walking to class, waiting at the bus stop, or walking from your car to your job, observe and savor what’s around you. Additionally, pay attention to the way the air feels, what you see nearby and in the distance, and the sounds you hear. Tune in to what is beautiful and interesting in your environment.
  3. Journaling: Write down 5 things you’re grateful for every single day. Don’t like to journal? Say those 5 things you’re grateful for out loud to yourself everyday. Examples: your health, your friends, your family, your job, your school, your dog, your legs to walk, your eyes to see, etc!

3. Help

While independence is important for young adults, reaching out for help is just as essential. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Be willing to let go of what you think you “should” do on your own. Give yourself permission to ask for and receive the help you need—whether it’s a shoulder to cry on, help with studying or homework, or just someone to vent to.

4. Connection

Self-care includes spending time with people you trust who listen to you, care about you, and make you feel good about yourself. Therefore, create your own support network, including family, close friends, like-minded peers, and/or mentors. Practice active listening, speaking the truth in a respectful manner and authentic connection to those around you.

5. Self-compassion

It’s hard to not compare ourselves to others in the digital age of social media and technology. But being kind to yourself goes a long way when it comes to your overall positivity and mental health. Show yourself self-compassion and self-love daily. Write down a motivating note to yourself and hang it on your mirror. You got this!

For more self-care tips, click here.

HOPE is here.

Georgia HOPE is currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia online and in-person. If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can enroll today or refer someone with a simple form. If you need more information or would like to speak to someone directly, please contact us here.

We are all in this together. Stay well! #HOPEisHere

covid blog

COVID-19 as a Trauma/Stress Event

This event has been experienced on a spectrum of “it doesn’t seem like it will impact us” to feeling overwhelmed, frozen or irritated, and not knowing what may happen next.

  • Previous Trauma (i.e. abuse, neglect, violence) can be exacerbated
  • Typical Stressors (i.e. falling behind in school, financial stress/food, regular schoolwork/tests, home stress) can all get worse during the pandemic
  • New Stressors (i.e. wearing a mask, washing hands, worrying about getting sick) surface

How We Might be Feeling Now

We may find ourselves feeling more agitated, easily annoyed or frustrated. Being in lockdown and having a worldwide presence of Covid-19 has left us feeling threatened. We can’t flee the danger so we may be revving up to fight or flat and begin to shut down.

Now things are changing again as we go back to school. Possible feelings for children, teachers and parents about returning to school:

  • Anxious or nervous
  • Afraid of the unknown
  • Reluctant to return
  • Poor sleep
  • Physically not feeing well (tummy or headaches)
  • Poor concentration and distractibility
  • Regression
  • Mood swings

How Can Schools in 2020 Be Trauma Sensitive?

  • There are many things educator, staff, parents and counselors can do to support children who have experienced trauma and help them to cope better at school.
  • Social connectedness – the biggest buffer in times of stress and distress. We can stay physically distant but emotionally close
  • Self-care – helping children learn to do this through modeling and education
  • A safe, predictable, supportive and consistent environment – create this in your environment. You can be the most important contribution for the child’s ability to learn to trust the world again, and enhance their capacity for resiliency
  • Checking in with students when they arrive in your classroom
  • Not expecting “calm” as this would be unrealistic of the children and ourselves. Be realistic about what will be achieved as many of us are in survival mode.
  • Be the thermostat, not the thermometer, for your classroom. Set the tone for your class and not let the class set your tone.

We Need to Put Our Own Oxygen Masks On First

Think of what the flight attendants say on a plane. They remind adult to put their own oxygen masks on before helping children or others around them.

Self-care needs to be a priority. We are no use to those around us if we are “unconscious”

What might self-care look like?

  • Doing an activity you like
  • Taking care of your physical and mental health

Other Ideas

  • Try and find ways to incorporate the whole brain throughout the day (rational thinking, emotions, and decision making)
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by encouraging reading, playing boardgames or learning opportunities
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by creating something or connecting with someone special in your life
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by moving your body around and doing exercise, body breaks or stretching

Ways to Minimize Covid-19’s Imprint in Our Lives

  • Predictability – try to have a routine and things to look forward to
  • Get Moving – feeling trapped increases our fight response
  • Connection – isolation is unnatural for humans. Reach out to friends, family or counselors
  • Numbing Out – often we try to numb out to keep safe, but we need to feel safe for our bodies to heal. Try becoming aware of yourself with loving kindness and compassion
  • Sense of Future – it can feel like this is will last forever. Try breathing or mindfulness to help get a sense of time
  • Sense of Safety – find ways to feel safe again. Listen to music, have private time and reach out if you are unsafe at home

Use of Zones of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation is a framework designed to foster self-regulation and emotional control (Kuypers). It is an effective way of identifying how we are feeling and functioning. It can also be used as a way to check-in with children and ourselves. We need to be in our green zone to in order to learn effectively. It is helpful to identify what we can do to support ourselves depending which zones we find ourselves in.

What are the Zones of Regulation?

Blue Zone (rest area)

  • Sad, sick, tired, board, moving slowly
  • To support myself: talk to your friends and maybe they can cheer you up

Green Zone (go)

  • Happy, calm, feeling okay, focused, ready to learn
  • To support myself: keep having a positive mindset

Yellow Zone (slow)

  • Frustrated, worried, silly/wiggly, excited, loss of some control
  • To support myself: try not to worry and go talk to someone to get it off your chest

Red Zone (stop)

  • Mad/angry, mean, terrified, hitting/yelling, out of control
  • To support myself: walk around or get a drink

For more resources on recognizing and preventing child abuse, neglect and mental health symptoms in a virtual classroom, click here.

If you have questions or would like to enroll in our services or make a referral:

#HOPEisHere

Content Developed by:

  • Christine Clark, MAMFT, LPC, NCC
  • Anna Fortune, LPC, CPCS
graduation blog post

Congrats to the Class of 2020, You Did It!!

“Take pride in how far you’ve come, have faith in how far you can go, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey.”

Michael Josephson

Most of our Georgia seniors had their last day of classes without students, teachers or administrators even realizing it was the last day. Implications of Covid-19 presented so many challenges for seniors – preparing for tests and doing schoolwork at home, which is a distraction-filled environment, and not getting the typical senior year events and memories from them such as prom, spring break, yearbook signing, typical graduation ceremonies, all the lasts, and not having the chance to say goodbye to many people who have helped shape them into who they are. Beyond graduation, students are wondering what the college landscape and job market will look like and even if they will be able to get together with friends before Summer is over. What they do have is resilience and a strong story to share with the world of how they are overcomers. 

Here are some tips to help during this bittersweet season for seniors.

Study Tips:

  1. Sleep Well: sleep 7-10hrs at night so you are more awake and energized
  2. Exercise:  let off steam and clear your mind, an active mind is more productive
  3. Eat Healthy: your body will feel better and be more alert
  4. 50-10 rule:  study 50 minutes in an hour and use the last 10 minutes to clear your mind
  5. Organize your calendar: designate a time for studying, free time and exam time
  6. Make study guides or study in groups 🡪 as long as it isn’t a distraction; do practice quizzes or quiz your friends
  7. Relax: keep your stress levels low and worry less

Final Exams: There are many ways to deal with stress during finals week but adapting to online learning has its own set of struggles. With all of the changes, you might feel unprepared. Stress can be handled in healthy ways such as deep breathing, exercise, following study tips, asking for assistance, etc. Take small breaks and give yourself a lot of positive affirmations You can do this!

College Bound Seniors: The application procedure might look different. Participate in virtual tours of the campus, look for social media groups of current students, call the financial aid office if the coronavirus has financially impacted your family, begin the college search again if you need to (many colleges look for students over the summer), consider a delayed start to college. Here is a resource for college bound seniors: https://yourteenmag.com/coronavirus/10-tips-for-high-school-seniors.

Memories: As a senior, many of you are leaving. This is an opportunity to create some very important moments and memories with people you will not be with much anymore, your family. Instead of focusing on the disappointments of all that you are missing, spend energy making the most out of this season. Have faith in your ability to make new memories and milestones and capture this moments as its own milestone.

#HOPEisHere