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Preparing Kids for School in 2020 and Beyond

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school in 2020

The world talks about the ongoing fury unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic. News stories are all about businesses getting shut, people going unemployed, and the mental impact on citizens as they limit themselves to indoors to remain safe.
The impact of the pandemic on children is perhaps one of the lesser-talked about issues. With the lock-down beginning to ease globally, and schools being re-opened, the need of the hour is to think about strategies that prepare children for the challenges ahead.

What are the Challenges Ahead for Parents?

To be able to offer support, you, as a parent, must be aware of the challenges that your child is likely to face post school re-opening.

  • Your child has been shut away from school during the prolonged lock-down, away from friends, teachers and the pre-pandemic school life. While they may have missed these elements immediately after the lockdown, the passage of time may have minimized the impact

Once school reopens, children may feel anxious, shy, strange or awkward, to visit their school, and meet their friends and teachers. School life may even seem intimidating because COVID-19 continues to be a looming threat.

  • Being confined to indoors during the long lockdown could have had an impact on your child’s social skills. You may have ensured that your child has stayed in touch with his or her friends through online communication tools.

But children may find getting back to reality in the real world difficult. They may show reluctance or anxiety at the prospect of seeing their friends again.

  • Some children, especially those that have been exposed to bullying and teasing, during the pre-pandemic school life, may feel anxious or frightened to return to school.

These children have remained cocooned in the safety of their homes and family during lockdown. When they are made to face the realities of school life again, they may undergo a significant amount of stress.

Such children may be frightened of having to face bullying, teasing comments, and unpleasant stares, at their schools.

  • Children, in general, are wary of any form of change. The pandemic period has exposed children to drastic changes. When even adults find it difficult to adapt to such post-pandemic changes, it would be extremely unfair to expect kids to adapt to these sudden changes.

Kids may show negative feelings about returning to school. They may be worried about having new teachers. They may also find it difficult to comprehend the new post-pandemic classroom atmosphere where they have to maintain distance from their classmates.

  • For children that have endured loss such as a loved one dying due to the pandemic, this period can be even more traumatic. Professional mental care should be provided to such children. Decision about their return to school should be taken after consultation with a mental health professional.

Some children may find it exciting to return to school after a long time. Some children may be reluctant or withdrawn. No matter how your kid reacts, here are some strategies to ensure that your kid is well-prepared to return to school:

Know how your Kid is Feeling about Returning to School

Assuming how your kid is feeling and knowing how your kid is really feeling are two different things. The first step toward preparing your kid to survive the pandemic is to listen to him or her.

Sit with your kids and ask them about their feelings regarding returning to school. Whether they feel excited, or downright scared and anxious, or have mixed feelings, acknowledge them.

Tell them that it is alright to feel what they are feeling, and that it is normal under the circumstances. Remind them that they are not alone in their feelings. Other people, including their friends and teachers, are more likely to feel the same way

Empathize with your Kids’ Feelings

It can be easy to set aside your kids’ feelings as childish trivialities. But remember that your kid is undergoing immense stress. The stress is not only about academic performance but also about returning to school amidst confusion, uncertainty and the threat to life, all raised by the pandemic. Put together, such stress can affect any kid’s emotional state.

Start by acknowledging your kid’s feelings without rubbishing them off. By acknowledging and not trivializing, you earn the trust of your kid. Once you earn your kids’ trust, you can get them to listen to your conversation and advice.

Make them Aware of the Precautions at School

One way of allaying the fears of your kids is by reassuring them that all safety measures have been put in place at their school. By doing so, you give them the confidence that the school has taken every care to ensure their safety.

In addition, communicate to your child the precautions that they need to take on their own to be safe. This would include talking to them about wearing masks while in public, washing their hands frequently, and maintaining social distancing.

It can be difficult for little kids to comprehend the significance of such precautions. Tell them that such measures are for their own good, and that following them would ensure that kids stay safe and healthy at school.

Share your Own Anxieties where Applicable

It could help if your kid knows that you too are as anxious as he or she is. Share your feelings and fears, and let them know how you are coping. By doing so, you convey to your child that they are not alone in their fears, and that even adults too face such fears.

By sharing your coping strategies, you instill in them the belief that the challenge facing them is not something that cannot be overcome.

Such conversations inspire your kid to face challenges directly. They will be more willing to listen to, and follow, the precautions that would ensure their safety.

Get the Old School Routine Back on Track

Words become more powerful when they are backed by action. Ensure that your conversations are motivating by implementing actions that put your kids on the track to the new normal.

One way to do this is to bring back the school routine that you followed for your kid before the lockdown.

The lockdown may have brought in new rules at home such as late sleep and waking times.

As the school reopening date gets closer, enforce the old routine by waking up kids soon, getting them to have an early breakfast, and putting them to sleep early. While the routine may be difficult to follow for the kids initially, they will soon shift to the new routine and stick to it.

This shift keeps them reminding that they would soon be at school, and makes the transition smoother.

Let your Kids Adapt to the New Norms at their Own Pace

Once at school, do not expect your kids to take to the new routine immediately. Expect ups and downs as your child struggles to adapt to the new life.

Extend support where you can. Reassure them, give them comfort, and let them know that you are there for them whenever they need you.

But make it a point to step back sometimes to let your child take the lead. Allow them to feel their emotions and give them enough time to understand, wade through, and settle into, the new routine.

Meanwhile, do not expect too much of yourself too. Step in where you can for your kids and give all the support. But do not increase the stress on yourself by putting too many demands on yourself.

Get Involved in your Child’s School Activities to Encourage their Interest in Academics

Talk to your kid about their daily activities at school. Even a simple question such as “How was school today?” can help start a conversation with your kid and encourage them to open up.

Show interest in your kids’ school activities. Listen to them when they tell you about the lessons or activities at school. Show honest appreciation for good work. Be specific in your praise. For example, instead of saying “good work,” tell them what really interested you, like, “It was a tough question. But I see that you have answered it correctly. Good.”

Being specific on details shows that you are not merely talking, but walking the talk. It also shows that you are making every effort to ensure that your kid adjusts well to his or her new life at school.

Maintaining such constant communication is crucial to let your kid know that you have time for him or her and that they can be open with you about their thoughts and fears regarding their school.

Encourage your Kid to Hope for a Bright Future

While helping your kid cope with the present is important, it is also crucial to give him or her the courage to hope for a better future. You could do this by talking to them about the things that they can look forward to in the future.

Talk to them about world history and how the world has reinvented itself each time it has gone through a crisis far worse than the current pandemic. Such conversations build emotional resilience in your kid, which can help them handle the present with more maturity.

Seek Support

Getting back to school after a lockdown can be overwhelming for your kid. But if you find your kid struggling to get back to the new normal, seek the assistance of the school. Talk to the teachers to understand your child’s difficulties. Support your kid wherever you can.

If you feel your kid needs more mental strength to face the pandemic situation, seek the assistance of a mental health professional and get necessary support.

In Conclusion

Schools equip children with capabilities beyond academic excellence. Qualities such as healthy social behavior, self-awareness, empathy, and logical thinking, are critical life skills that enable children to grow into well-balanced adults.

It is therefore important to let children experience school life and its learnings. The best way that parents can support their children during this unexpected period of the pandemic is by equipping them with the know-how to battle the pandemic.

As the saying goes, this thing too shall pass. As parents, the emotional support you provide your children during the pandemic will remain with them both as an inspiring memory and a life skill.

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7 Ways to Survive an EMP Attack

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An electromagnetic pulse, or “EMP” for short, is a sudden burst of energy that overloads the fragile components within an electrical system, causing them all to short out. It causes actual hardware damage resulting in the failure of any unprotected electrical devices. Typically EMPs are generated by technically advanced devices such as nuclear weapons. 

The least realistic but most dangerous scenario that can take place is that someone detonates many EMPs over a nation, or crazier, the whole world and renders all the technology and electric grids everywhere useless. If this happens, you should know how to prepare for it to ensure your survival during this unprecedented attack.

Lighting 

Candles are the obvious choice in any scenario like this. We have them handy; they are cheap and readily available everywhere in quantity. The only few negative things one might mention are the strength of light the candles can provide, how unstable they can be depending on which type of candle you use, or how the wind can blow them out anytime. 

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If candles just don’t cut it for you, let me introduce you to an alternative. Oil lamps; works under any condition. No weather or atmosphere is strong enough to keep an oil lamp down.

Faraday Cage

A Faraday cage, named after its inventor, Michael Faraday, is a device or structure made and used to protect the cage’s contents from electrical impulses. It’s an excellent option for security, and easy to make. Nevertheless, an old microwave or a metal cage, i.e., a safe, can be as good.

The Faraday cage may do well against an EMP attack, but we can’t be too sure. We cannot foresee the impact of the electromagnetic pulse or the level of damage it might cause, so it is pretty much impossible to predict if the cage would protect the devices or not.

Communication Devices

Communications would be an arduous task after almost everything is rendered useless because of the EMP attack. It is always good to have many backup options to communicate with those important to you if a situation like this ever strikes. Devices such as a two-way radio, CB radio, or long-range walkie-talkie can be handy. If you find any of these devices in good shape after an EMP attack, put in some batteries and see if it works as there’s a high likelihood it will.

Communication is one of the more essential tasks after any disaster, and it is the very thing that you’d probably overlook. 

Backup Electricity

The primary issue after the attack is the question of electricity and how to source it if the grid becomes empty. Well, one option is to make electricity from solar panels by installing the panels around your home. Another is to set up wind turbine generators and produce electricity. 

Luckily, there are many backup electricity options, but they require preparation and hard work.

Defense

Any type of gun, be it shotgun or rifle, is useful for defending yourself. You can use these weapons to protect yourself and hunt animals, and depending on your preferences, for game. Another resourceful thing to do if you want alarm systems around your house would be to hang bells on the inside of your doors. Even if they seem like nothing, they are very consistent and can make you aware of intruders if they try to sneak in. Try to do this for every entry point in your house so you and your family can rest assured of your safety.

Sourcing Food

Sourcing food will be another significant problem if the restoration of power takes months or even years. Therefore you should know how to grow your food and manage your livestock. Books on farming and breeding livestock will help enormously with this, and there are countless out there.

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Be Ready, So You Don’t Have To Get Ready

Many preppers already know how to live off the grid because they have started living that life to be ready if and when the time comes. All of this will eventually prepare you to survive an EMP attack if you go off the grid entirely and learn not to rely on anything that works with electricity.

Keeping a stock of first aid kits and bare medical essentials is also a requirement if anyone needs medical attention. The EMP attack is often called the ultimate doomsday attack that will eventually happen.

You can always do things on an individual level to help protect you and your loved ones better. The practices and ways that we discussed above are known by much of the preppers community, so if you’re new to being a prepper, now you know how to survive an EMP stack.

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What to Do When You Can’t Afford Food

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The times are tough, and as the pandemic continues to affect us all in many different ways, this article feels like a necessity to show all the other options out there you can opt for to make your life that extra bit more worth living.

Families are struggling, and on the top of the list of struggles comes the challenge of buying food. This is a growing problem, and it seems that the end is not in sight. If you cannot cope and cannot afford even the essential food items, there may be some other options that can help you out.

Ask

Sometimes, the easiest thing can be the most challenging thing to do. Asking for food is the hardest decision that someone can take. Nevertheless, you can always ask restaurants, grocery stores or markets and many such places. While asking, also make them understand your situation very clearly and explain that the circumstances are challenging for you. Some organizations go from restaurant to restaurant and take leftover food from there and distribute it later to people who don’t have money or are homeless in dire need.

Basic budget

Mapping out your budget is the first thing you should do. List all of your living requirements on paper or digitally, and start with food. Only think about the things that you genuinely need to live and budget accordingly. Once you have a budget set, make it your duty to never go outside of this budget.

SNAP benefits

This is primarily a USA program, but you can find similar programs for your country. SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps people get benefits based on their state and income. People will apply to this for many reasons and can be eligible for many reasons, so don’t take it from here but go directly to the Government website and get more information. Suppose you can apply and get approved. You will get a notification with all the information and details, including the period you will continue to receive those benefits. 

WIC

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Another program is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Congress is the one who controls this, and it gets funded through individual states. 

There is a list of criteria that you must meet if you want to qualify for WIC. The requirements include categorical, residential, income and nutritional risk. 

Free lunches

There are many programs specifically made to help people who cannot afford food in their houses. Free lunch summer programs, soup kitchens, or 24/7 kitchens that stay open solely for people to get food are some of the most important options that you can take advantage of. You need to be aware of these programs as they are placed there specifically to help you. 

Food banks

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If, by chance, you do not meet the eligibility criteria for any program, the above solutions will come to your aid. Another organization that helps is local food pantries. They are charitable and not for profit organizations that give away food to people without money or with very little and still cannot afford to buy the absolute necessities. A statistic to put things in perspective, food banks in the UK are helping up to a million people not starve, and the number in the United States of America is probably even higher. 

No matter how you may feel about going to food banks and asking for help, be reassured of your health and safety. 

Coupon expert

Become an expert coupon collector! These are your best friends during trying times. Stores give you coupons, and there are apps on the play store that have coupons for many stores in your neighbourhood. Vouchers can also give you advantages like buying in bulk at low prices or having discounted items that will expire in a week or so. 

NGOs

There are many not for profit governmental organizations that have a scheduled time and place where they distribute food. Going there and having your lunch or dinner is always a good option. 

Apart from NGOs, there are churches, mosques, gurudwaras and various other temples, depending on where you live, which will offer you free food and other benefits if you go to them and ask for help. 

Dumpster diving

As weird as it sounds, dumpster diving is a legitimate thing that people engage in. Dumpster diving is basically what it says. Dive into a dumpster and find sealed packets of food that many restaurants and hotels often throw out, or even grocery shops. These products are usually thrown out because they seem or look bad or are past their sell-by date. 

Nevertheless, however harmful this option may seem, you are doing what you need to do because you need the nutrition and the strength to get through the hardships you are facing right now. 

Stock on pantry items

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If you have even a little money, you can stock up on ramen noodles, crackers, flour, beans and rice. Such items go a long way in feeding you and keeping change in your pocket. These items can also be kept for a long time, so there are no chances of them going off anytime soon, and you can ration them out with no problem at all. 

Social services

Another measure that you can take is contacting social services or their offices, letting them know of your predicament, and asking for their help. They will usually give you food assistance by giving you an EBT card which works like a debit card and is primarily for buying groceries and related items.

Getting a job

Getting a job is the most challenging solution, but if you can make it happen, it will not just solve your food problems but also your living. Even if you get little money from your job, there’s always some food worth eating that you can buy from loose change.

Many people have to decide between giving up food and giving up on other basic needs, and sadly, they believe that giving up food is the way to go. One might think they can live without food but cannot live without shelter. You shouldn’t have to decide between either.

The above solutions are just some suggestions to help make your life a little easier if you ever have a food issue.

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Setting up Your Survival Backpack: What and Why?

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A survival backpack or survival kit is a kit that contains every necessity that you may need in the event of an emergency to survive for an indefinite period until everything gets better again. 

Survival backpacks need to be durable to withstand the four elements, i.e., rain, water, fire, and earth. You should also be comfortable strapping it on yourself and trudging through the wilderness. It should be compatible with your body size. 

You are now coming to what you should include in your survival backpack and why.

Water 

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Water is an essential survival element, without which you would not last more than a couple of days. What you should put in your backpack are two things, a water container, and a water purifier. 

While finding a natural source of water like a river or a lake, you should also keep in mind that water will most definitely be contaminated with all kinds of viruses and bacteria. The first thing to do would be to treat it with either purification tablets or use a water filter. Whichever is handier and more comfortable to get. After that, you can pour the now purified water and put it in the water container or bottle you brought along.

Shelter

Come nightfall, you will need a place to rest and boost your energy. As much as you may like fantasizing about sleeping under the stars with nothing but the grass beneath you, it is a little impractical. This is precisely why you should carry items such as a space blanket, which helps you keep warm. The next solution is a sleeping bag. A sleeping bag will also keep you warm and comfortable throughout the night without any issues. 

You can also go ahead and use a tent. When choosing a tent, you should keep in mind that it should be lightweight, waterproof, and spacious enough to accommodate you and your friends.

Food

You should pack ready-to-eat meals and packages that are easy to take care of and lightweight not to affect the backpack’s weight. Canned meats, soups, canned fruits and vegetables, and more canned stuff are excellent options. Ready-to-eat canned meals are also available. Pack many energy bars, granola bars, and candy bars because they are high in nutrients, especially calories and carbs.

A fishing kit might also be a good idea if you want to carry one. It is an easy way to get fresh food whenever you might want to ration out your meals. All you need for the kit is some bait, line, and hook, after which you can tie the line and hook to any decent-sized stick you may find.

Cooking Utensils

While talking about food, you should also have the necessary utensils to prepare it. A regular cooking kit contains one small pot, a cup, two to three metal plates, and some fork and spoons. In almost all the methods, cooking food requires heat, for which you need a stove and, give or take two to three fuel canisters. 

A fire starter is also needed as it helps build the fire for cooking while also providing heat. Bring along matches and a lighter in case the matchsticks do not work. Do not forget to keep the matchsticks and the lighter in a waterproof container or a waterproof package.

Clothing

Clothing takes a vital place next in your survival backpack because you never know what weather you may face. Some suggested clothes include two pairs of underwear, woolen socks, thermal wear, extra shirts, a rain jacket or fleece jacket, or preferably both, and hiking boots.

First Aid Kit

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First aid kits are another must-have for your backpack. They can be used to treat injuries in an emergency. It should include items like bandages, tourniquets, scissors, antiseptic wipes, a roll of gauze, aspirin, sutures and needles, antibiotics, and allergy medicines.

Knife

A knife is both a useful tool and a good option as a self-defense weapon. It has many uses and should be added to your backpack. It has various usages, from cutting bandages to opening cans to prepare food and so on. 

Shovel

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A small shovel makes all the difference in the world. You can use it to dig holes or dig trenches, even a fire pit. It comes in the handiest when you are attempting to build a shelter. 

Saw

Another great tool that should be kept considered is a small saw. A saw will make the cutting branches and gathering wood that much more comfortable and less time-consuming. For example, sawing wood logs to build a campfire or sawing long branches from a tree to help in making a base for the shelter.

Tape and Cord

Duct tape is an excellent addition to your backpack. It is the ideal go-to for any repair because it is waterproof and durable. You can use it instantly to temporarily fix your clothes, your tent, or any other materials that need repairing. 

A cord is a rope that is used to tie anything together. You can use it to connect your wood or tie together a tent making it a temporary shelter. It can also be used to hang washed clothes on; you just need to find two suitable trees and stretch and tie the cord from those two trees. 

Personal Items

Last but not least, the things that you should carry in your backpack are:

  • Identification documents
  • Money
  • Phone and charger
  • Self-defense items (might include pepper sprays and stun guns)

Identification documents include your passport, identification papers, driving license, contracts, cards, and so on. 

One may never know what lies ahead, no matter how hard you try to be prepared for anything and everything that comes your way. But the above list details all the essential things that you should have in your survival backpack or kit, and it is always handy to make a list yourself and check the items off one by one as you put them in.

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