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Virtual Educational Opportunities for Children

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By MEGAN HUSSEY

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With schools closed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Hernando parents are turning to major social service organizations for their children’s academic and intellectual nourishment. And in Hernando, a number of help agencies are coming through with expertly designed online programs that make learning fun–and, just as important, that facilitate both a whole new educational experience and a renewed sense of normalcy for children in this area.

During their time at home, Hernando students can learn and play in a Cyber Clubhouse hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Hernando County. Daily virtual Club programming, conducted on the private Facebook Group Page “Hernando County Cyber Clubhouse,” will provide a multifaceted learning curriculum. Learning opportunities will include prompts for physical activity, educational exercises, and a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) topic each week.

“With closed Club sites, our staff is working hard to create new and imaginative ways to stay connected to members, so they don’t fall behind,” said Jennier Harpin, Director of Development at Boys & Girls Club of Hernando.

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Also to this end, the Boys & Girls Club is hosting Virtual Mentoring & Prevention Programming, including SMART programs, via Zoom remote meeting and conference software. 

“Through critical thinking games and real discussions about anxiety, emotions and decision-making, mentoring and prevention programming helps our youth to learn key life skills for coping,” read a related information sheet. 

The parent of each participant will receive a parental consent form with information about setting up a Zoom profile.

“We are directly contacting parents to sign current members up,” said Harpin. “We have approximately 115 youth already signed up.” 

Those who have questions about or who would like to register for these Boys & Girls Club educational programs can send administrators a message on the club Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/bgchernando/, or call 352-666-0068, ex. 124. 

Currently offering in person childcare for the children of essential workers is the Hernando County YMCA, located at 1300 Mariner Boulevard, Spring Hill. Tentative dates for the YMCA program are Apr. 6-10, Apr. 13-17, Apr. 20-24, Apr. 27-May 1, May 4-8, 6:30/7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Florida Blue has teamed with YMCA members to help the YMCAs of the Tampa Bay provide this care at a greatly reduced rate. Now for $50/week, qualified employees in Hernando can register at the following link: https://bit.ly/3daGnjB.

Meanwhile online at https://www.facebook.com/HernandoCountyYMCA/, the YMCA is offering a daily of fun and challenging activities for all students. These include Color By Number activities, yoga demonstrations, inspirational stories, games like Social Distancing Bingo, safe swimming tips, family workout regimes, recipes, fun food facts, word finds, and more.

Public broadcasting television station WEDU PBS is doing its part to educate students at home through the broadcast of a new weekday television schedule of educational programs and online resources; thus creating a virtual home classroom featuring programs aligned to state standards. Free and accessible from home, the WEDU home school program debuted Monday, March 23, at 6 a.m.

“Many students in our area do not have the resources at home that they have in the classroom. Lack of at-home computers, printers or even internet service could make learning impossible in an at-home environment, but most homes do have a television,” said Gail Taylor, WEDU’s Director of Education Services, in a related press release.

In addition to this on-air scholastic broadcast, divided into blocks serving learners in grades PK-3, 4-8, and 9-12, WEDU is supplying online services highlighting particular lessons, articles and other information to support PreK-12 home learners and educators on a rotating basis. 

These complimentary, user-friendly resources, that come courtesy of PBS LearningMedia, conform to Florida educational standards for K-12 and VPK instruction, and can be accessed by educators and families via home computer connections.

The on-air schedule and online resources can be found at www.wedu.org/edconnect. The new 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule includes specific blocks of time for Pre-K through 12th grade levels and covers subjects including English language arts, social studies, science and math. These programs also are aimed toward making learning fun, and include titles like Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum (History), Peg + Cat (Math), Cyberchase (Math), SciGirls (Science), NOVA: Inside Animal Minds: Bird Genius (Science & Nature), Native America: From Caves to Cosmos (Social Studies), Food: Delicious Science Food on the Brain (Science & Research), Medicine Woman (Social Studies), NOVA: Inside Animal Minds: Dogs & Super Senses (Science & Nature), The Great American Read: Heroes (ELA), Freedom Writers: Stories from the Heart (ELA), and History Detectives: Warner Brothers Cartoons (Social Studies).

“For more than 60 years, WEDU’s primary mission has been to educate – it’s in our call letters. The station got its start broadcasting classroom instruction and educational programs,” said Paul Grove, President and CEO of WEDU PBS, in a related press release. “There is no question about WEDU’s dedication to ensure the health, welfare and education of our youngest viewers during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.”

The Southwest Florida Water Management District is offering the following educational activities for students on their website WaterMatters.org/Education in recognition of water conservation month in April.

There is an activity sheet available to download in which the student calculates how much water is being used at home daily and devises ways to reduce the use.

You can also click on the teacher resources block to access:

  • Virtual Watershed Excursions – Explore major watersheds online. Students will learn about the ecology, history, restoration, recreation and more as they move throughout the excursion. Each excursion also comes with a teacher’s guide, which includes a student worksheet.
  • Short Water Education Videos – Watch short 5-minute videos that cover a variety of water related topics, such as the water cycle, wetlands, watersheds and more. Each video also comes with an accompanying teachers guide.
  • Student Workbooks and Teachers Guides – Student workbooks are available for all grade levels and cover many topics. All student workbooks and accompanying teachers guides are available for download as PDFs. If students cannot print out the workbooks at home, the PDFs can be used as a guide and answers recorded separately

These are some excellent learning opportunities available to our students online, but be sure to encourage your students to get outdoors and exercise.  There is no virtual replacement for fresh air and sunshine!  

 

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