Vermont Family Network’s (VFN) Puppets in Education (PiE) program is proud to announce that a COVID-19 version of their PK–Grade 4 Anxiety program has been created, recorded, and is now available online for ANY family needing support during this time.
The program, which was developed and piloted starting in January 2020, features two kid puppets and several octopus puppets. It provides tips and tools for parents and children to use when worry feels big. Families can watch the video together, talk about worry, and discuss what tools to use.
This is the first time one of PiE’s puppet shows has been put online in the program’s 39-year history. Usually, PiE programs are presented exclusively live to children at schools and local organizations. Many students may already be familiar with the puppets, as they reach up to 10,000 school children annually in VT, upstate NY, NH, and MA. The Anxiety program was created in conjunction with school counselors, teachers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and kids, with funding from the Vermont Department of Mental Health and the National Life Group Foundation.
“When schools moved to online learning, they were contacting us and asking how the students could still have puppet shows, especially the ones about Anxiety,” Sarah Vogelsang-Card, PiE Program Manager said. “So, it got us thinking, how can we best support the students?” Vogelsang-Card worked with her family in their living room to deliver a presentation she hopes will help children and families work through the unusual stresses of this time. “Because we are so close together when we puppeteer—less than six feet apart—we weren’t able to have our usual puppeteering staff film the program. Instead, my husband and I turned this into a homeschooling family project with our son.”
VFN hopes that families will benefit from this information and also experience the beauty of this powerful puppetry. This “home-edition” of the PK–Grade 4 Anxiety Puppet program is available to watch here: https://youtu.be/Dwu6jbf09Wg
The Key Program Points include:
• Worry is normal; everyone experiences it.
• Our bodies have useful built-in alarm systems that tell us when there is a problem.
• Sometimes our alarm system goes off too often or when it’s not necessary. That’s when worry becomes a problem.
• There are lots of ways we can make worry smaller and more manageable, so it doesn’t get in the way. It will never go away completely because it is a normal part of life.
• Worry tries to boss us around, but we can boss worry back and be empowered!
• There are many tools we can use when worry feels big. It’s good to have a lot of tools, because different tools will work for different people on different days. The tools we talk about are: Stand Up to Worry, Busy Mind/Calm Breath, Talk to a Grown-up, and Move My Body.
The video also has some suggested conversation starters for families for after you watch it together, plus a list of resources for continued reading and activities.
Puppets in Education is a program of Vermont Family Network who empowers and supports all Vermont families of children with special needs. For more information, please visit www.VermontFamilyNetwork.org