This article was written for our sponsor, UNC-TV.
With the recent closing of schools and several businesses around the Triangle, many families are stuck at home, wondering how to fill time in a meaningful way. While it can be difficult for parents and teachers to keep up with learning outside of the classroom, the trusted resources offered by UNC-TV make at-home education straightforward and accessible.
Most families and children are likely familiar with the television shows on Rootle, the 24/7 PBS KIDS channel, and the games available on PBSKids.org and the PBS KIDS apps, but that's just the beginning when it comes to UNC-TV's educational resources.
"To complement PBSkids.org and Rootle, there is a website designed for parents and caregivers: PBS KIDS for Parents," said Joy Potts, director of UNC-TV's Children's Media and Education Services. "Parents can visit this online destination to find downloadables and materials structured to support parents as they extend learning through those programs — whether it's planning a 'Clifford'-themed birthday or taking a nature walk with your child inspired by an episode of 'Wild Kratts.'"
In addition to the resources found on PBS KIDS for Parents, UNC-TV also offers a free text subscription service, Bright By Text. Parents who sign up can enter information on the developmental age of their child to receive texted links three to four times a week, which lead to resources, tips and materials all curated based on their child's individual needs.
The texts are available in both Spanish and English to make the program as accessible as possible for all parents and children in the area.
Of course, UNC-TV's resources aren't just for parents. For teachers who are left wondering how to continue educating their students outside of the classroom, UNC-TV and PBS's LearningMedia can help. The online portal contains thousands of digital assets professionally refined for students from kindergarten to 12th grade, covering every subject from science to physical education to language arts, all available free of charge.
Distance learning does come with its own set of challenges, however, and it's not easy for parents and teachers to keep students engaged for eight hours every day. Additionally, many parents still have to work — whether in person or remotely — and are already busy with things to do around the home, and adding teaching to the list can be overwhelming.
In these cases, parents can rest easy knowing UNC-TV provides 24/7 educational programming from trusted sources to keep their kids both occupied and educated.
"Over 3.8 million households have access to Rootle, so we think of Rootle as a safe haven for children within that developmental age group. They can go there and spend time with their favorite characters, and parents can rest easy knowing that they'll have fun, but also that they're learning at the same time," Potts said. "Right now, one of our most popular shows is 'Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood' from the masterminds of Fred Rogers Productions. It's an animated series, and the crux of that series is supporting a child's social-emotional health, which is so relevant right now as parents wonder how to support their child's emotional health during this time."
Potts is right — with all of the uncertainty in the world right now, a bit of stability goes a long way for both children and adults. While many of the typical experiences, such as going to school and spending time with friends, may not be possible for a while, familiar faces on television can help build an important sense of comfort for children.
Even for adults, the resources provided by UNC-TV offer a familiar routine in an unpredictable time.
"With our Rootle programming, our priority is to create and maintain that safe haven for children, so there is that sense of normality in those programs. They're able to spend 20 minutes with their favorite character — 20 minutes with 'Clifford,' and they feel like things are going to be OK," Potts said. "And for teachers, they may be overwhelmed by figuring out how best to reach their students, because not all of them have access to resources. What we hope to provide through our curated resources is a comforting space that makes it as easy as possible to navigate which tools are going to be most effective for their students."
Under the PBS umbrella, there are a number of other helpful educational resources available, including Teachers' Lounge, where educators can find tips and feedback from others in their field; and the PBS KIDS newsletter, which offers content, activities and tips for parents who are educating their children at home.
While many aspects of life are in flux right now, the trusted materials offered by UNC-TV may help ease the stress parents and teachers may be experiencing right now and make education in the home as accessible as possible.
This article was written for our sponsor, UNC-TV.