Hello Willow Brook Bears!

I would like to begin by saying how much I miss seeing you all every day. I hope you and you families are settling into a good routine and getting some rest and relaxation while you enjoy this beautiful weather that we have been having.

During this time away from school, it is my hope that I can be available to provide support and resources to assist you and your family. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if I can assist you. I will be available each weekday via email to help answer questions or provide assistance. I will also hold office hours each day and can be available via email or phone. My email is dschwartz@ortn.edu. I would love to hear from you all and hear how you are doing.

In uncertain times, children look to the adults in their lives as sources of comfort and stability. It is our job to provide as much calm as possible for their well-being. One of my favorite quotes reads, “When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions it is our job to share our calm, not join their chaos”. This of course also means that we as adults take care of ourselves and assure we have plenty of rest and stress relief to assure we can be at our best for our children.

Our daily lives have certainly changed for most of us. Take this opportunity to catch up on much needed sleep, take time for play, spend time outside, go for a walk, build a fort in the living room, play dress up, play a board game, draw or color, cook together, or just spend time talking and sharing stories. One great way to manage stressful feelings is to focus on others. Find ways to help others in need. Encourage those working during this time and show kindness to those who are ill or those who have lost loved ones or neighbors.

Simple daily rituals such as making your bed every morning, brushing your teeth, and getting dressed and ready for your day rather than wearing pajamas all day (this one is hard for me as well) can help children feel more safe. With my own children, I have also benefited from making a daily schedule to reinforce these routines and provide structure for reading and some other academics, planning for free and play time, sticking to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtimes. But do NOT feel you need to recreate a daily bell

schedule at home. Extra sleep and limiting stress are good for the immune system and NO ONE expects anyone to recreate school at home during this time.

Be sure to talk with your children about how they are feeling and remind them that their feelings are normal. It is ok to feel sad, scared, angry, or frustrated. Help them identify who they can talk to when they are experiencing these feelings. It is also ok for you to not have all the answers or to know all the right things to say. Just be available to listen and let them know that you hear them and their feelings matter to you. Remind them that we are all going through this together and that we will be ok!

Finally, try to focus on staying healthy (wash those hands!!), stay home, and have some fun together. I highly recommend limiting exposure to news/media for children. I would like to recommend this for us as adults as well. Also, be sure you are monitoring your children’s internet usage carefully. I will post more tips and information about this and other topics later, but Netsmartzkids.org (below) is a great website for parents and kids to help with this issue! I have listed some other resources below as well. Again, if you have questions, please reach out and I will do my best to respond promptly.


Mr. Dan School Counselor Willow Brook Elementary Dschwartz@ortn.edu


BrainPop.com: great videos and activities on lots of topics including social/health

KidsHealth.org: great information for parents, kids, and teens, LOTS of topics

ChildMind.org: has section on COVID-19 coping resources for parents

PBSkids.org: games, videos, shows

I highly recommend Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS, every weekday at 10:00 and 10:30 am. Wonderful show that teaches social skills.

Netsmartzkids.org: games, videos and fun tips to keep your child safe online.

Crisis information:

Ridgeview Behavioral Health in Oak Ridge: 482-1076

Mobile Crisis/Youth Villages: 866-779-9225

Statewide Crisis: 1-855-Crisis-1 or 1-855-274-7471

Text TN to 741741

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255