CORAdvantage Blog Classroom Tips
Family Resources for At-Home Learning: Mental Health
By Holly Delgado | March 31, 2020
On Tuesday evening, after eleven days of being cooped up in our home, unable to see his friends or extended family, our eight-year-old son cried. For over an hour, he wavered between uncontrollable sobbing and catching his breath long enough to share short sentences related to his feelings. His breaking point? He was sitting next to me on the couch and his little brother, our three-year-old, came over and snuggled his body between the two of us.
Supporting Your Family’s Mental Health
During this time, setting aside a few minutes each day to check in with our children may have immeasurable rewards. Building a vocabulary surrounding emotions will help children learn to identify and express their feelings in more appropriate ways. Find an opportunity to talk with your older children about their emotions. Ask them how they are feeling, acknowledge those feelings, and model empathetic responses. If they shrug their shoulders and say, “I’m fine,” provide them with the words they may be struggling to articulate on their own. For example, “I wonder if it’s disappointing and lonely not to see all of your friends regularly?” or “Having to play with younger brothers all day would make me feel overwhelmed. How about you?”
Younger children, who have an even more limited vocabulary, may not have the words to express their feelings. Instead, they may act out physically. In these cases, we, as parents, need to learn to read their body language. Hitting or yelling may mean frustration or anger; sulking and storming off may mean disappointment. When we take the opportunity to name these feelings for even our youngest children, we help them develop skills they will need to problem-solve in the future.
As a mom, I have noticed my children wanting to physically be closer to me more than usual. This past week, I have noticed their behaviors change — for example, instead of sitting next to me, they want to be on top of me; instead of having a conversation with me, they clamor over one another in an attempt to be heard. It was only when I stepped back and looked at their behavior from a different perspective that I realized they were looking for care and comfort. What I was initially reading as annoying behavior was actually them reaching out to me for love and guidance. But, in order to see that, I needed to let my own guard down.
Focusing on my family’s mental health is important right now. So, in my family, we’ve attempted to build in more 1:1 time with each sibling — even in our tight quarters. We’ve created more opportunities to get outside and hike or ride bikes while maintaining a safe social distance from everyone else. Quiet time, when everyone disengages from technology and chooses a book or quiet toy, or takes a nap, is now a regular part of every afternoon. Video conferencing with our extended family helps keep us connected, and we’ve found family movie or game nights helpful to reduce stress. And, at the end of it all, my husband and I take some time each night to just sit on the couch and binge-watch something on Netflix.
These times are hard. Talk to one another. Find comfort in one another. If you are limited by space (and distance), determine what you can do within the space you have to not only survive, but thrive. Take time to focus on your mental health — whatever that means for you.
Family Activities Packets
The HighScope and COR Advantage teams have created a packet of activity ideas for your second week. Activities are included for infants, toddlers, and preschool age children. Please watch for this packet of activity ideas to come out each week that children are home from school.
COR 360 is a collection of high-quality tools and resources for early childhood educators. Visit and join COR 360 to download all of our Family Packets, available in English and Spanish, along with a comprehensive library of other resources for professional development and at-home learning.
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About COR Advantage
COR Advantage is HighScope’s flagship observation-based assessment. COR Advantage is the leading research-backed assessment for all children from birth to kindergarten. From comprehensive planning tools to dynamic family engagement, COR Advantage offers a complete picture of child growth for schools and families.
About Holly Delgado
Holly is an Early Childhood and Assessment Liaison as well as a former Demonstration Preschool teacher at HighScope Educational Research Foundation. She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Central Michigan and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from Northeastern Illinois. She has spent more than 10 years working in self-contained early childhood special education classrooms, inclusive classrooms, and home-based environments for children ages birth to five. She is a certified teacher in Michigan and Illinois and has experience as an education administrator for Head Start/Early Head Start programs. Holly is currently an adjunct professor of Early Childhood Education at Madonna University.