Boy in wheelchair talking to a woman in the kitchen
Change is always present in our lives, but this past year has been a little extra. And by a little extra, I mean A LOT EXTRA! All this change can be hard on our kids and on ourselves. And if you or your child is neurodiverse or has a history of trauma, that adds another layer that makes dealing with change even harder. So we have put together some information on how to talk with your kids about change, help you support them now and in the future with the change that is inevitable, and hopefully help yourself as well. 

Some things to talk to your kids about:

Talk about the change. Tell them what to expect, both good and bad, and what the change will mean for all of you. Answer as many of your kid’s questions as you can, and if you can’t, be honest with them about that. Tell them you’ll figure it out together!

And talk about it early, as soon as you know there might be a change coming. Time is your friend when processing a big change. Using visuals as you talk can be really helpful, even for children that are verbal. For children who are reading, this can be a list or chart. For big, complicated changes, have lots of conversations over time.

You can also bring up examples of changes that have happened in the past. Talk about what was good and not so good about it? What did your child learn from the experience? How did they get through it, and what coping skills did they learn? Let them know that every time they experience a change, they’ll become stronger and more prepared for the next one! 

Involve your child in decisions about the change. Children typically have no control over the major changes in their lives. By involving and including them in decisions, you help them feel more in control. This can happen in big and small ways, at any age. So give them choices and also ask for their help. Children like to contribute and feel valuable, responsible, and helpful.

Acknowledge your child’s worries and fears. While you’ll want to focus on any positives associated with the change, it’s important to allow your child to feel angry, sad, or scared. These feelings are normal and your child needs to be allowed to express them. 

If your child struggles to name what they are feeling, help them label the emotion (ie, anxious, sad, nervous, worried, scared, etc). Putting a name to a feeling makes it less overwhelming and easier to manage. And coaching children through their feelings is a vital learning experience. Talk about and practice emotional regulation strategies when a child is calm, so that the child can use one of those strategies when their emotions start to escalate. Remember that behavior is communication, and difficult behavior could be a way of saying "I'm having a hard time with change."  

Also be sure to let your child know that you take their concerns seriously. Like us adults, children simply want empathy, understanding and to be heard. 

Encourage your child to write (or draw!) about their feelings around change. Always be there for them to talk to, but sometimes kids need to process on their own. Giving them a journal to write or draw in, is a great way to give them that space.

Show your child the positive ways that you handle change. This can be harder than it sounds. I know I don’t usually react positively to change. But try and talk about how you feel during times of change and about what you do to cope. For example, I show my child the lists I make to help me stay organized and focused and feel more in control.

Keep the connection going. Make sure your child knows that no matter what else changes, you are there for them. If you can, set aside time each day to give your child your undivided attention - even 10 minutes is great. You can talk, play, share an activity. If your child is older, you can watch the same movie or play a video game. A little extra attention doing something you both enjoy reassures your child, making it much easier to cope with life’s changes. And I promise, it will help you as well. 

Beyond talking with your kids, here are some other tips for helping them (and you!) through change:

  • Keep family routines the same, if you can
  • Try to keep other changes in your lives to a minimum
  • Talk with your child’s teacher or child care provider to keep them in the loop and get support
  • Make sure your child eats well, gets plenty of exercise, and gets enough sleep (again, this can be easier said than done, but we can try)
  • If you can, give your family time to prepare for the change. And remember that kids who have had more trouble with change in the past, may need extra time and support in the future.
  • And of course, read books about big life changes (see below for help with that!)

We pulled these tips together from a variety of sources, including these articles:

And we also recommend checking out Purdue University’s page on Families Tackling Tough Times Together.

This post is part of our “Talking with kids” series, as featured in our monthly Family Newsletter.  Reach out to us at learning@multcolib.org if you have questions. We’re here for you!
 

Happy Earth Day! Earth Day is April 22. It’s a day to celebrate and support environmental protection across the world. 

April 22, 2021 marks 51 years since the first Earth Day in 1970. The coordinated marches across the United States on that historic day remain the largest single day protest in human history. Today, Earthday.org coordinates global protests, actions, and summits each April 22 and throughout the year.    

One way to celebrate safely at home during the pandemic is through crafting and making art.

Use what you have!  
Whether that’s some digging out those aspirational craft supplies you bought last year and haven’t used yet or digging through this week’s recycling to find materials, reducing waste by using what you have helps protect the environment. Look for materials for crafts that might otherwise be thrown away. Try using household materials in unconventional ways, such as creating a seed painting with beans and seeds from the pantry, creating art with coffee filters, using vegetable ends as stamps, or painting with toy car wheels.

Take a nature walk to gather supplies.  
Environmental protection preserves and restores our natural spaces. Enjoy nature by walking in your nearest natural space or one that’s special to you. Look for a few materials such as sticks, stones, leaves, or moss that you can gather in a non-destructive way to use in craft projects or play.  

Ideas for eco-crafting with small children

  • Make toys from things that might otherwise be thrown out, such as a dollhouse from boxes or blocks from wood offcuts.
  • Make a fairy house from those natural materials you gathered.
  • Use anything blue and green (paint, markers, crayons, playdough, icing, paper collage, etc.) on anything round (paper plate, coffee filter, cupcake, balloon, etc.) to represent the planet Earth.
  • Bake or create a gift for a neighbor to intentionally build community.

Ideas for tweens and teens

  • Make your clothes special with creative mending.
  • Sew up some reusable produce or sandwich bags from old clothes or scraps.
  • Get involved in craftivism.
  • Make postcards. Send them to your state or national representative with a message of support for environmental legislation.  
  • Paint a protest sign. Google “climate protest art” for inspiration.  

Make it public. 
Decorate a public space you control such as your front yard or front door with a friendly, creative message of support for the environment, clean energy, climate justice, social justice, or any cause dear to your family.  

Collaborate.  
Individual actions are important, but real change happens when we act as a community. Invite passersby to interact with your art. Use your creativity to help your neighbors feel connected. They might participate by adding a message, taking something, or interacting with the art. See some of this sort of art in action.  

Read.
And of course, there are lots of books you can read to help you celebrate this important day. And why not check them out from one of the leaders in "recycling," your public library! You'll find a booklist below, or you can do a general search in the library's catalog for Earth Day or Environmentalism

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, brought to you by Home Learning Support and available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

We’ve been reading a lot of memoirs around here lately.  There’s something magical about them, in how intimate and revealing they can be.  Writers of memoirs don’t always include the whole story, but there is an underlying assumption of honesty.  When we read memoirs, we can trust we're getting to know someone, and maybe even ourselves, a little bit better.    

The word “memoir” comes from the French word mémoire, which means “memory.”  It’s just you and the author’s voice, sharing impressions of their memories.  Suddenly, you’re in their world, going deeper with every page you turn.  Reading a memoir offers a unique opportunity to really connect with someone without having to talk to them.  Or, in the case of public figures, it offers an opportunity to learn more about someone you admire, but may never meet.  

Some of our favorite memoirs lately have been graphic memoirs, or autobiographical comics, combining words and visuals to reveal memories.  We enjoy finding diversity in experiences and perspectives in our favorite graphic memoirs.  Whether we’re reading about someone battling an eating disorder, or someone growing up in South Korea in the 1980s, we love getting to know fascinating people through these beautifully drawn and written graphic memoirs!

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, brought to you by Home Learning Support and available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

Looking for more tips on what to read next?  Check out our My Librarian readers advisory service and contact us for more ideas!

two students sitting outside of school on steps, looking at schoolwork, with masks on
School is once again changing for many of our kids. Some will be returning to Modified In-Person Learning either part-time or full-time, while others will continue with Comprehensive Distance Learning that will most likely look different. We tried to pull together some resources to help families know what to expect with this new hybrid learning and help support you through this time. 

Here are some great general ideas for Helping Your Child Prepare for Hybrid put together by the Anne Arundel County Public School district in Annapolis, MD. They include things like:

  • Re-establish predictable bedtime and mealtime routines (because if your family is like mine, those have gone right out the window!)
  • Be ready for behavior changes (just like adults, changes cause stress and stress can lead to some not-so-flattering behavior)*
  • Focus on the positives (something we all can try and do!)

And the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds has put together ways to support kids and teens in “Returning to the Classroom During COVID-19,” including helping them with:

  • Fitting in at school after a year away
  • Health and safety for kids and teens who might be nervous about catching the virus
  • Catching up academically

Looking at things locally, Oregon Public Broascasting’s (OPB) Education Reporter Elizabeth Miller has written a number of articles about schools returning to in-person. Including this one titled, “Here’s how hybrid will look for Portland Public Schools students.”

Local station KGW has put together “Frequently asked questions amid plans for reopening Oregon schools” and made a video about what returning to school looks like in Portland. And here are all their recent stories regarding schools in Oregon. 

If you like Podcasts, we highly recommend checking out All in My Head Podcast 3. Online School: How are we coping? This episode features teens giving their take on online school and mental health. 

And we recommend this article for parents and caregivers on Managing Your Own Anxiety During School Reopening.

And here is specific information from all the school districts in Multnomah County (who knew we had so many?!):

And Student Health Centers are now open at Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose, Roosevelt and Reynolds high schools, for kids 5-18. Student Health Centers are like doctor’s offices and offer comprehensive primary and mental health care services to all Multnomah County youth. There are no out-of-pocket costs.

If you have questions about finding the most up to date information regarding your child’s school we can help. Please contact the library for assistance.

*If you'd like to read more on change, and how to help support your family through change, please check out our article on "Talking with kids about change."

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, brought to you by Home Learning Support and available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

Two women and a young girl blow bubbles outside in a field
“I routinely prescribe nature to children and families.  Nature has the power to heal."  

-Dr. Nooshin Razani, pediatrician, presenter of the TED Talk "Presribing Nature for Health"

Research suggests that taking a walk, visiting a park, or getting out in nature can relieve stress, encourage social bonds, and support physical activity.  Less stress means less depression, anxiety, and isolation...not just for kids, but for adults, too!  

Portland Parks and Recreation offers plenty of opportunities for adventure!  Search for your next destination through the Find a Park feature, and be sure to check out their list of Inclusive Playgrounds, which is growing!  Gresham also offers an array of parks and trails to explore. Troutdale, with its proximity to the Sandy and Columbia rivers, offers plenty of fun options as well, and Fairview is home to many others, including our favorite, Salish Pond Wetlands Park.

Wait, there’s more! Metro Parks and Natural Areas offer 17,000 acres of outdoor exploration!  Try out the Interactive Park Finder, and while you’re there, check out their Parks and Nature News section for the latest on the ways our community enjoys nature.  

We love keeping up with Metro’s Our Big Backyard magazine and exploring back issues for beautiful photographs. The latest (Fall 2020) issue features two articles written by members of our community.  

While you're outside, you can take advantage of the learning opportunities it offers.  Portland Parks has created an at-home nature activities page, with links to videos and other activities that tap into kids’ sense of curiosity.  You can find a Flower Scavenger Hunt, a Birds of Portland guide, and a map of Tree Museums that are open for viewing right in your neighborhood.  

There’s so much to see and do out there, so take Dr. Razani’s prescription and get outside!   Even just a little bit can do wonders for your health - mental, physical, emotional, and overall!


This article was written for our Family Newsletter, brought to you by Home Learning Support and available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

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