Setting the Tone for the At-Home Learning Day — The Morning Routine


Although every family will manage the major changes of staying at home and distance learning differently taking it account their own strengths, limitations, and daily accountabilities, for children and adults alike, a consistent morning routine offers many benefits. That structure can provide a sense of safety and stability for all as they begin their day. This can lower stress levels when family members have their needs taken care of each morning through a predictable routine. If children help create the routine, then power struggles are less likely to take place regularly.

In this current context, children and adults alike are tempted to sleep in late, keep their pajamas on, and not get started with the day until half of it has passed. But during the school week when our children need to get work accomplished, slow mornings can add to their challenge to motivate and work toward school goals. Your consistency in sticking with a morning routine that works for all family members will help your children cultivate an awake and ready state of mind conducive to tackling the distance learning ahead of them.

In the recent poll asking you how you most prefer to learn, you reported that short videos were helpful. Check out this short video produced by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) in partnership with Jennifer Miller of CPCK on how to co-create a successful morning routine with your children. It’s never too late and you’ll feel the benefits immediately. Check it out!  

Struggling or want more? Check out the following 5 minute video short with more instructions on how to co-create your morning routine for successful learning so that there’s less nagging, less stress, and more connection and productivity!

Creating a Smooth Morning Routine

“You Said…” Survey Results and the Best CPCK Tools

From Surviving to Thriving During the #COVID19 Pandemic

We so appreciated the participation of many in our survey on how we can meet your needs at this unique time during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were an average of 76 responses to each question, four questions total. When asked, “what is causing the most unrest in your family?,” 33% said motivation to work while 21% said too many responsibilities with too little time. To the question “What are your learning condition preferences?”, 66% responded that they preferred learning supports that could be accessed anytime and on their own schedule and 30% said they preferred scheduled, weekly opportunities. The most popular ways of learning included short videos and blog articles. Of the topics that would help you the most, there were a wide range of responses with the most popular being managing screen time and also, dealing with power struggles, facilitating learning at home, creating social connections during stay-at-home isolation, how to support children through their fears and anxieties, how to deal with parents’ big feelings, and how to use this time to build social and emotional skills.

This will very much guide our agenda going forward starting with this post. Check out the top most popular tools and practical resources from Confident Parents, Confident Kids that relate to your needs for support. 

Reinventing the Family Media Agreement 

Even though you may have had media rules in the past, our lives and our relationship was screens has changed dramatically. Now for some, school comes through screens so kids are using them for learning and for entertainment. That’s why it makes sense to have a fresh family conversation about screen uses and how you will manage your time. A healthy relationship with screens means that you’ll incorporate your other priorities into your life and ensure that time outside, creative time, rest time, meal time, reading, family game time and other important moments are kept sacred while screens are put to rest. Talking about those priorities helps all family members get and stay on the same page and also creates a day and a schedule in which physical and mental health needs are considered and respected. Get the printable plan.

Disagreeing Respectfully with these Conversation Tools

In this time of close proximity when we are with our family members much more regularly, we are certain to encounter frustrations with one another and to disagree. If we have conversation tools at the ready, we’ll be able to navigate our way through those challenging conversations while keeping up relationships intimate, healthy and growing. Get the one-page printable.

Inspiring Hard Work

Yes, there’s a science behind motivation that can shed some light on how to inspire our children to work hard even during these stay-at-home, distance learning days. It’s true that relationships are the cornerstone of learning. “Research from the children’s media field suggests that technology can, indeed, facilitate meaningful connection. Joint media engagement—a relatively new concept—refers to using technology and media as a co-engagement or co-viewing tool between adults and children. Multiple studies show that a healthier way for children to interact with technology (especially screen media) is if an adult is physically or virtually present and participating in usage with the child. The positive benefits increase when the technology delivers high-quality educational content.”1 

Additionally, our expressions of confidence that our children have “got this” can help children engage in the work at hand. Check out the article entitled “Homework Attitude — Promoting Autonomy and Competence to Inspire Hard Work.” And get the printable hard work poster to hang in your school work location.

Creating a Morning Routine for Learning Success

The CASEL Cares Initiative created this short video on why a consistent morning routine is so important and how to co-create a successful plan with your family. Excerpted from the longer webinar with Jennifer Miller on promoting social and emotional learning at home. Check it out!

Setting Up for Learning Success

How do you set up your physical and psychological environment to promote the conditions for learning to take place at home? Check out the latest webinar from Jennifer Miller for the CASEL Cares Initiative to learn about more!

Dealing with Fears and Anxieties

Reading with your children can serve as a way to face fears together, talk about them, and conquer them. Check out this new podcast from Highlights for Children with Jennifer Miller and Editor-In-Chief Christine Cully on “How Reading Helps Social and Emotional Learning.” And check out this one-page printable on “Eleven Simple Tips for Parents on Helping Children Deal with Anxiety.

Dealing with our own Big Feelings

We are all having them right now. From fear to worry to frustration to anger, it seems some form of anxiety is living just under the surface and a small trigger can bring it out in a heartbeat. Because we are already on edge, we are more likely to explode with our more challenging emotions. So why not plan ahead for our responses to those big feelings so that we never do or say something we’ll regret. Do it for yourself and for your family. And remember that when you take care of your own big feelings, you’ll be modeling and teaching your children self-awareness and self-management skills at the very same time you are taking care of yourself. Bonus! Print off the Family Emotional Safety Plan.

Global Pledge of Allegiance

Finally, Jennifer Miller’s family is offering morning announcements every weekday morning through Facebook Live at 8:15 a.m. EST during the pandemic to help families begin their mornings with a positive, calm tone. In those morning announcements, we say a Global Pledge of Allegiance that honors the fact that we are in a global crisis and are collectively working toward a healthier, safer planet. Connect with this community and use the Global Pledge of Allegiance to begin your days with your family!

May you and your family find comfort and support in these tools. We’ll be certain to continue to produce practical, research-backed tools going forward so they’ll be more to come! Meanwhile, here’s to our collective health and safety.


Barron, B. Et al. (2011). The New Coviewing: Designing for Learning through Joint Media Engagement. NY: Joan Ganz Cooney and LIFE Centers.

Learning Together About Our Planet

This #EarthDay, #COVID19 Creates an Opportunity to Explore Together

“Mom, come quickly!” E says practically jumping up and down. “There’s a bluejay in our yard!” And this scene has played out over and again but with varying creatures – bunnies, beetles, and butterflies – oh my! If you have a patch of grass outside your door, there’s an opportunity for your kids to explore nature. Take them to a park and no screens, toys, or equipment are required for discovery. In Spring and with the shelter-in-place policies in full force, it seems we are all feeling “nature-starved” and ready to get out to experience the beautiful weather.

There’s strong evidence that points to a range of benefits for children who get outside and play. In schools during the learning day, teachers have worried that taking kids outside will result in misbehaviors and a lack of control. But when they’ve tried it out, such as leading students through a park while creating field journals or tending a community garden, they found just the opposite. Students were more engaged and held greater focus on the learning taking place.

Whether in your free time or for the many of us who are homeschooling, there are significant benefits for discovering nature together including greater:

  • family connectedness;
  • cooperation skills;
  • empathy and perspective-taking skills;
  • caring;
  • sense of awe and wonder; and
  • motivation to learn.2

One study compared a group of preteens who spent five days in nature with no screen time with a demographically similar group of preteens at home who engaged in regular activities including daily screen time.That study showed that the children who spent the time in nature after only five days were more skilled at taking social cues including non-verbals and understanding each others’ emotions. That short time spent with peers in nature enhanced their abilities to connect and communicate with one another. Though we are social distancing, time in nature spent as a family can offer all of the positive benefits while deepening our intimacy and trust and relieving some of the stressors and worries we may be feeling daily.

The experience of being in nature, appreciating and discovering and learning together as a family, is an incredibly simple and yet, powerful way to spend time together. You really only need to go for a walk together outside. But sometimes, we appreciate and can use a bit more structure and inspiration. And particularly for those who are looking to build upon a science curriculum, experiential ideas as well as online resources are necessary. So in celebration of Earth Day, here are some ideas for exploration at various ages and stages.


Discover Bugs; Play Hide and Peek!

This game involves lifting up and peeking under any and every rock you can find and explore the world of bugs that lives underneath. Preschoolers will be thrilled by the pill bugs, worms, slugs and more that are just waiting to be discovered. The nine- and ten-year-old in the photograph below still find it exciting!

Track Animals

Go on a nature walk and look in the dirt for tracks. See if you can follow and attempt to identify various paw prints you see in the mud. And be sure to leave your own!

Early Elementary

Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt

Print off one of the many checklists on Pinterest and head to the park or a woods nearby. Some lists are fairly simple and straightforward such as, find a stick, a stone, and a ladybug. Some are more involved such as, find litter, find an animal hole, or find a group of mushrooms.

Plant a Garden

Designate a small spot in the yard to dig up and allow your child ownership over the lot. Help her line the edges with rocks to divide the space. Pick out seeds at a local garden shop and consider all of the requirements for growing – sun, soil, water? Plant, tend, weed and marvel. If you plant herbs or vegetables, incorporate the crop into family dinners and your child can feel proud to have grown what you are eating.

Create a Habitat

You may select a cardboard box or else find a small place in your yard for your child to create a habitat. Consider what animals might want to live there and what they require to be happy? Will they need a water source? What kind of food will they gather? Help your child make a habitat for a local chipmunk, ant colony or mouse.

Middle to Late Elementary

Create a Nature Journal

You’ll need a few items in order to create a nature journal. Get a blank notebook. Fill a pencil pouch with colored pencils and a glue stick. And pack your camera (or camera phone if that’s the only option) too. Now head to a natural setting. The challenge is to recreate the natural setting in your notebook by drawing, taking pictures of and writing about the different aspects of the habitat you are experiencing. Draw pinecones. Write about the smell in the air. Glue pine needles onto your pages. Imagine getting it back out in the middle of winter. Would your notebook place you right back where you are? This activity can enhance a child’s discovery and appreciation of a place while adding their own creativity to the mix.

Assemble a Nature Art Collage

Go on your nature walk together with an empty bag for collecting. Pick up natural treasures along the way such as seed pods, buckeyes, and flower petals. Then, find a suitable backdrop like cardboard or even, a wood plank. Now arrange and glue (an adult may need to help if a hot glue gun is necessary).

Go “Creeking”

As adults, we can forget or simply underestimate the incredible lure of a trickling stream. You need no instructions for kids here. Just let them go (and make sure their shoes can get muddy and wet!). Skipping rocks, looking for crayfish, and finding fossils are all on the agenda here. In my experience, we have to practically drag our child away when it’s time to leave.

Middle to High School


Check out a field guide from your local library or bookstore. Find a natural subject that most interests your son/daughter. There are guides for fossils, rocks and minerals, plants, wildflowers, birds, woodland creatures, trees and more. Now head to the park or hiking trails and see what you can identify together.


Camping as a family does not have to require major equipment or planning. In fact, you can pitch a tent in the backyard or if parks open in your area, at a nearby nature preserve and enjoy the bonding that occurs because of it. Make a bonfire and share ghost stories. Take a hike. Pick out the constellations in the night sky. Leave your electronics behind.

In addition to all of the aforementioned benefits of getting out in nature with your children, it can have the added impact of calming us down and changing to a slower, more steady pace in contrast to our daily lives. Use this Earth Day as a reminder to find simple ways to appreciate nature with your kids and enjoy the many benefits of exploration together.


Earth Day Facts and History

National Geographic Kids

Kids can discover games, videos, different animal types, and other special topics like Native Americans, Science, Space, United States, and “Weird but True.”

San Diego Zoo

Kids can discover games, activities, videos, stories, and ways to save animals. 

Columbus Zoo Animal Guide

Search an extensive guide of animals with information about their geographic locations, their typical behaviors, and their survival status across the globe.

NASA Climate Kids

Has informational sections on weather and climate, atmosphere, water, energy, plants and animals, and big questions. There are games, activities, videos, and careers for individuals making a difference in preserving our planet’s health.

Our Planet

A website created for the Netflix documentary series by the same name in which you can explore and find videos on different parts of the Earth including jungles, forests, grasslands, coastal seas, high seas and fresh water.

Roots and Shoots

A program created by scientist and environmental activist, Jane Goodall, kids will discover ready challenges, can take a quiz to discover their passion related to how they want to contribute, learn about what other kids are doing to improve the health of the planet, and more.

RedRover Readers Program

The RedRover Readers program is a literature-based, social and emotional learning program designed to promote empathy. Educators learn how to ask specific questions and invite students into the stories. They invite children to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences in the context of animal- themed books about kindness and relationships. In addition, they are have resources for people and pets impacted by #COVID19.

Jane Goodall: The Hope

A National Geographic documentary special airing on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 21, 2020 premiering at 9:00 p.m. EST, 8:00 p.m. CT

For Parent Learning:

First Person: COVID-19 is not a Silver Lining for the Planet, Says UN Environmentalist Chief

How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature
by Scott Sampson

Balanced and Barefoot; How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident and Capable Children
By Angela J. Hanscom

More Supportive Organizations:

The Children and Nature Network

World Wildlife Foundation

Science Kids


(1) Scott, G., Colquhoun, D., (2013). Changing spaces, changing relationships: The positive impact of learning out of doors. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 17(1), 47 – 53.

(2) Garst, B. A., Baughman, S., Franz, N. K, Seidel, R. W., (2013). Strengthening families: Exploring the impacts of family camp experiences on family functioning and parenting. Journal of Experiential Education, 36(1), 65-77.

(3) Uhls, Y. T., Michikyan, M., Morris, J., Garcia, D., Small, G. W., Zgourou, E., Greenfield, P. M., (2014). Five days at outdoor education camp without screens improves preteen skills with nonverbal emotion cues. Computers in Human Behavior, 39, 387-392.

Adapted and updated from the originally published content on April 20, 2017.

What Do You Need?

Though there have been pandemics in history, for the vast majority of us, this is a unique moment in our personal history in which we are required to stay home with our families for an indefinite amount of time. Our relationships with our children, with our partner, with anyone who lives in our household will be tested. In addition, many of us are charged with home-schooling our children which can range from answering an occasional question while they work virtually or teaching content and guiding a child through their entire school curriculum or not engaging with school because of a lack of time and access. All of these scenarios represent a giant shift in roles and responsibilities adding stress to parents and caregivers amidst a backdrop of health and safety concerns.

We’ve been sharing free content to support you but feel it makes sense to take a moment to pause and deeply listen to your needs. I hope you’ll respond to the following four questions. These polls should only take a minute of your time. Your input can help determine what is produced to support you while we are reorienting ourselves and our parenting in this new #COVID19 context. Please take a moment to share your feedback!


New Podcast with Highlights! How Reading Can Help Deal with Fear and Anxiety

Use reading at home during #COVID19!

Listen in to the latest episode of our new podcast, For the Love of Reading ❤️📚 In this episode, Highlights Editor in Chief, Christine French Cully, talks with Jennifer Miller of Confident Parents, Confident Kids, and shares how books and storytelling can help kids deal with their anxiety, especially in these unprecedented times. Listen now on YouTube or Apple Podcasts 🎧

In researching for this podcast, we discovered many helpful read-alouds of picture books and first chapter books on YouTube that can support parents and children in discussing fears and worries. Check out these recommendations!

Picture Books

Ruby Finds A Worry by Tom Percival

YouTube Read Aloud

Ruby is a young child who develops a very small worry that slowly gets larger over time. It becomes so huge that it begins to overcrowd her happiness. At a park one day, she finds another child with a worry and discovers she’s not alone. After talking with each other about their problems, they both begin to feel better. 

Jack’s Worry by Sam Zuppardi

YouTube Read Aloud

Jack’s Worry is about a boy who loves playing the trumpet but can’t seem to shake his nervousness at his first concert. The story is a perfect way to teach kids about anxiety or reassure them after stressful situations.

“I Can Handle It” by Laurie Wright

YouTube Read Aloud

A boy runs into a number of challenging situations and experiences emotions like frustration, disappointment, shame, and upset but he figures out multiple ways he can handle it and regain his calm and sense of control.

Don’t Be Afraid, Little Pip by Karma Wilson

YouTube Read Aloud

All of the young penguins are learning to swim but Pip is too scared to try. Instead Pip decides she will try and learn to fly. But as tries to learn to fly, she realizes that swimming and flying just might require the same kind of courage and she has it.

First Chapter Books

Dr. Brad Has Gone Mad! By Dan Gutman

YouTube Read Aloud

An elementary school counselor wants everyone to just get along and stop arguing. Now he’s decided to turn everything upside down. The boys have to play with dollls. But girls have to play with action figures. And that’s just the beginning of Dr. Brad’s weird methods!

Magic Tree House Series

Mummies In The Morning by Mary Pope Osborne

YouTube Read Aloud

Jack and Annie magically transport through the Magic Tree House to Ancient Egypt and get lost in a pyramid. They find a ghost queen inside. She asks Jack and Annie to help her find the Book of the Dead so that she can go to the afterlife.

Magic Tree House Series

The Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne

YouTube Read Aloud

Jack and Annie find a castle with a secret passage when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to the Middle Ages for another wild adventure. In the Great Hall of the castle, a feast is under way. But Jack and Annie aren’t exactly welcome guests.

Also, check out the terrific videos for kids on YouTube at Highlights for Kids!

Thank you, @HighlightsforChildren for being such an outstanding resource for parents and the children we love!

On the Front Lines…Parents and Educators In Service

Our Call to a Greater Purpose

My twelve-year-old’s history assignment this week was to read and reflect on the book, “Attack on Pearl Harbor” by Shelley Tanaka and Paintings by David Craig which offered perspectives on the experience of families in Hawaii at the start of World War II.1 As he was reading, he pointed out all of the commonalities between that moment in history and this one. “Mom, people were lined up outside of grocery stores just like they are here,”  he told me. And schools were closed. People were ordered to stay in their houses especially after dark. But of course, there were differences too. Some classrooms were damaged as in the photograph taken in Honolulu. Families had to fully blacken their windows so that no lights shone at night for fear of air raids. Uncertainty and danger defined their lives.

There’s much we can learn by revisiting times in which survival – health and safety – determined how we lived day to day. In sustained crisis, we can lose our ability to reason, to think rationally. Our mind feels paralyzed as the “emotional hyjacking” of our brain to our primal state focuses us on fight, flight or freeze. The word “crisis” in Japanese means both danger and opportunity. In fact, my son relayed that the U.S. military accidentally shot down five U.S. planes in their panic and worry. There is a danger if we allow our panic and worry to consume our daily lives. That fear or sense of overwhelm can block our ability to consider how we are making responsible decisions and connecting with our immediate loved ones each day.

So what can help? Research confirms that in times of struggle, a focus on the bigger picture can create a wiser mental state.2 In truth, parents are the front line of this germ war, the danger/opportunity we are currently facing with #COVID19. Parents who are staying home, preparing home-cooked meals, and supporting their children in their education perhaps while working or going to school themselves are indeed engaged in national service, global service. Educators too who are supporting families from their homes are deeply engaged in service. If we focus on the bigger picture – our public health – and the fact that every human around the globe is impacted, then service begins at home. And we, as parents and as educators, are the servant leaders. No task is too small or mundane to contribute to this service. Our perspective shift can contribute to seizing the opportunity of this moment to learn and grow stronger together.

Parents, by the very nature of our roles, serve in a leadership position while we raise our children. A servant leader realizes that his or her ability to significantly influence others and achieve any vision comes from serving others. Understanding the qualities of a successful leader – that of a servant leader – can assist any parent in further refining his or her values and skills to better perform her role. Research on power demonstrates that the skills required to rise to leadership are empathy and social skills.3 However, interestingly, those are the very skills that become the most challenging to leaders once they have acquired power. So when we are parenting, we may have a greater challenge than in other roles with our ability to be empathetic and to demonstrate social intelligence.

Robert Greenleaf, author of “The Servant as Leader” and management researcher who consulted with major corporations like AT&T and lectured at MIT and Harvard, defined what it means to be a servant leader.4  He writes that leaders always have a larger goal in mind and can well articulate it. That goal may not be fully achievable in a lifetime but offers sufficient inspiration and vision to motivate all members to pursue it. For example, our family’s vision is to love one another unconditionally while supporting each other as we pursue learning and working toward our highest dreams and potentials. And we measure our major life decisions based on that vision. Parents as servant leaders prioritize and build trust as a critical foundation for their family’s interconnected relationships and individual successes. They are responsible decision makers, and they exercise sound judgment showing competence in what they do.

The concept of servant leadership can offer a frame of mind as parents and educators consider their role and how they might focus on the bigger picture so this moment in history becomes defined by opportunity in the face of danger. Here are some of the main lessons from Robert Greenleaf ‘s concept of a servant leader that I’ve translated for our roles.

Listen for Understanding
When a family member has a problem, Greenleaf would advise listening first for understanding. And though it may require some time and possibly awkward silence with children, taking the time to listen to truly make sense of what the child is both feeling and thinking can result in a much richer dialogue between parent and child. Instead of rushing to fix as we so often tend to do, we offer a significant show of respect by actively listening. Instead of projecting our worries on our child, we can better tune into their cues and listen deeply to discover what they are feeling. It’s often said, the better you define a problem, the better the solution. And in this case, stopping to listen can help prompt a child’s thinking and uncover the sub-text – their feelings – so that your child is able to accept and manage their own stress and create their own best solutions. If you are interested in exercising your listening skills in family life, check out a number of ideas in the article, “Say What?”

Communicate for Connection
At this moment when a constant stress pervades our household, parents can create opportunities for learning by communicating for connection. In the busyness of our lives, at times, we forget to take time out to explain why we are so busy about our pursuits. And it helps to relate our rationale to a child’s life such as their learning goals in school or our care with getting food. For example, there are sacrifices we are all making right now by supporting our children in home education, by taking pay cuts or losing work, and by not going to restaurants or other public places. So it’s important to make meaning out of these sacrifices and connect it to a larger picture, our health and the health of those in our community. This helps us all stay focused and endure the temporary stressors while working toward a bigger vision.

Embrace the Art of Withdrawal
The art of withdrawal is the ability to step back, to step out of the throes of current circumstances, and to reflect. This withdrawal could involve taking a walk or simple getting outside. It could mean removing yourself from the room to another place to cool down. Or it could be as simple as employing “Strange Calm,” sitting down in the midst of chaos to regain your centered focus. This is such a critical point for our roles as parents and servant leaders. Not only does it give us permission to “leave the building,” it’s encouragement to do so. Yes, we need to make family members aware in advance that we will be withdrawing at times. Yes, we need to ensure that our children are safe before we withdraw. But we can use this technique to fuel our own sense of well-being as we treat our feelings and thoughts with the care they deserve in leading our family. We return from our withdrawal with a sense of renewed purpose and clearer thinking to retain their trust and make sound decisions.

Accept and Empathize
Family members need to feel accepted in the group at all times. Their membership needs to be treated and viewed as essential. Nothing could cause them to be cast out. E said to me last night at bedtime as we were saying goodnight, “Will you love me no matter what?” with a teasing tone. But I know that he needs to hear it “Yes, come what may, no matter what, I will love you.” All kids do. And not just once but often, especially in times of stress and strain. Greenleaf writes, “Parents who try to raise perfect children are certain to raise neurotics.” Getting comfortable with and expecting mistakes as a part of our children’s learning process is a core part of our own acceptance in our parenting. That acceptance demonstrates our empathy for our children who hold us and how we regard them in their highest esteem. And we can further work on cultivating our empathy and understanding for our children by regularly learning about their development so we can relate better to their particular kinds of challenges.

There are numerous ways to learn about your children’s development. As a start, check out the site Healthy by the American Academy of Pediatrics or read “Confident Parents, Confident Kids” with its age by stage guide of social and emotional development.

Cultivate Foresight
Foresight is the ability to make responsible decisions combining factual information with our intuition. But in addition, we have to consider the consequences down the road for the choices we are making today. And helping our children become responsible requires us to model that skill. Talking aloud about the ethics of a choice — like planning our meals and food purchases to enable us to stay at home for extended periods — and how others might be impacted in future days or years can help children become aware that they need to consider their own and other’s futures in their decision-making. It’s rare when all of the pieces of information required are fully at hand when we need to make a choice. Usually, there is a bit of a leap of faith involved particularly when it’s a larger decision. Children will learn to better trust themselves as you show faith in your own inner wisdom to guide you.

Deepen Awareness
We cannot lead a family toward a vision without self-awareness. And that self-knowledge is not a one-time event but a process of introspection, looking within to understand what patterns we might be repeating that we want to change and what values are core to who we are and how we want to show up in the world. The art of withdrawal can assist with our awareness as we take time out to reflect on what our deepest self is telling us. That pause is necessary if we are to make choices not on impulse but on a deeper knowing. In addition, we need to cultivate an awareness of our family members’ feelings which can be strengthened over time with practice. “What’s Dad feeling tonight? Can you tell by his facial expression how his day went?” Taking small opportunities to notice other family members’ feelings can strengthen this skill in yourself and your children.

Taking a step back and evaluating your role as a parent or educator servant leader can be nothing short of revolutionary. Since change always begins at the individual level, we can seize this chance to improve our world right at home. If we desire leaders – whether they serve in our communities, our workplaces or our governments – who are caring, socially responsible and compassionate, we plant those seeds daily by modeling it as servant leaders with our own children. How will you take leadership at home during this time when you have the opportunity to serve on the front lines?



  1. Tanaka, S., & Craig, D. (2001). Attack on Pearl Harbor: The True Story of the Day America Entered World War II. NY: Scholastic.

2. Stillman, P.E., Kentaro, F., Sheldon, O., & Trope, Y. (2018). From “me” to “we”: The role of construal level in promoting maximized joint outcomes. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 147: 16 DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2018.05.004

3. Keltner, D. (2016). The power paradox; How we gain and lose influence. NY: Penguin Press.

4. Greenleaf, R. (1991). The servant as leader. Indianapolis, IN: The Robert K. Greenleaf Center.

CASEL Cares Webinar Recording – Social and Emotional Learning at Home

There was a large turnout of professionals and parents who joined live for the dialogue Friday afternoon for the CASEL Cares webinar. Thank you to the many who joined! For ideas on how to promote social and emotional skills at home during #COVID19, check out the recording: “So What Now? Supporting Social and Emotional Learning at Home.”

Thank you Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) for hosting this event in which so many family tools, resources, and research-aligned strategies could be shared!



#COVID19 #parentingtips #SEL #educatortips #emotionalintelligence


A Parent Manifesto and an Educator Manifesto for Tough Times

Asserting Intentions During #COVID19 Stay-at-Home, Educate-at-Home Days

It seems this is a moment to assert our beliefs to create a sense of unity and also, understanding for one another’s strengths and challenges. Here is a proposed manifesto….

Dear Parents,

  • We believe that all families have the highest intention to keep their loved ones safe and healthy, and their children loved and secure.
  • We believe that all families are doing what they are able to ensure an education for their children that will lead them on a successful path.
  • We believe that educators and families are learning, adjusting to major change, and giving their best.
  • We believe that, despite the hardship that may come from this unique moment in time, the love and support families can provide for one another is more important now than any other specific learning goal and will be the force to win out over any threat – bacterial or other – beyond their home base.
  • We believe that educators and families can be stronger together if they work to manage their own stress and pressures with healthy coping strategies and support their students and children in doing so as well.

We know learning happens when loving relationships are present and children’s hearts and spirits are cared for as well as their minds. We believe their homes can serve as the ideal place for this deeper life learning to happen. We offer you grace as you do the best for your family.



Dear Educators,

  • We believe that all educators have the highest intention to keep their students safe and healthy, loved and secure.
  • We believe that all educators are doing what they are able to ensure that their students are receiving what they need to lead them on a successful path.
  • We believe that educators and families are learning, adjusting to major change, and giving their best.
  • We believe that, despite the hardship that may come from this unique moment in time, the love and support families can provide for one another is more important now than any other specific learning goal and will be the force to win out over any threat – bacterial or other – beyond their home base.
  • We believe that educators and families can be stronger together if they work to manage their own stress and pressures with healthy coping strategies and support their students and children in doing so as well.

We know learning happens when loving relationships are present and children’s hearts and spirits are cared for as well as their minds. We believe children’s homes can serve as the ideal place for this deeper life learning to happen. We offer you grace as you do the best for your students.



This Friday — Join CASEL Cares Webinar on Supporting SEL at Home during COVID19

Join the new CASEL Cares series through the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning this Friday where we’ll discuss how to support children’s social and emotional development at home during the #COVID19 pandemic. This webinar will address:

What does social and emotional learning look like in family life? How can parents, caregivers and educators incorporate social and emotional skill building into their daily lives at home with their children? And how might parents hone their own skills at home?  Jennifer Miller will show how this unique time may just be the opportune moment to practice resilience and advance social and emotional skills. During this shelter-in-place, stay-at-home time period, caring adults can use new practical strategies and tools to support their expanded role as 24-hour caregivers and educators. Jennifer will discuss how you can plan ahead for big feelings — your children’s and your own; how you can set up your home for learning success; how to facilitate social connection in a physical distancing world, and how to turn it around when stress gets the best of us and things go sideways. Sign up here! 

We Need Your Input!

Please write in the comments’ section or if you have numerous ideas, you can email

What are you doing to stay socially connected?

What are you doing to help your child stay socially connected?

Families are Stronger Together Staying Home and Safe

For all of the Harry Potter fans out there, do you recognize this illustration concept borrowed from the Battle of Hogwarts in “Deathly Hallows”? My son and I just completed reading and watching the Harry Potter series and this image came to mind when, in the final “Deathly Hallows” movie, each witch and wizard used their magic to protect Hogwarts when the battle began. It may be challenging at times to stay at home, but we are stronger and healthier when we do. If you are struggling with parenting challenges, I hope you’ll use and search the Confident Parents, Confident Kids site for free support. There’s guidance on helping children deal with fears, monkey mind at bedtime, setting up your home for learning, power struggles, a fighting fairly family pledge and much more!

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