REGION — A statewide stay-at-home order has prompted a number of North County businesses to offer children and their families a variety of online programs.
The programs, many of which are free, come as schools are closed and parents grapple with how to keep their children entertained while still working their jobs. Some of the programs offered include exercise classes by Encinitas business Tumbles, storytime by the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum and a meet-and-greet with animals of the EcoVivarium.
Scott Horton, owner and instructor at Tumbles, said he chose to provide free lessons online as a way to help families keep their children healthy during this time.
“For the past 24 years in Encinitas, Tumbles has been promoting healthy lifestyles and exercise habits in children,” Horton said. “With everyone stuck at home now, the need for exercise and movement is greater than ever before. We hope to reach out to kids and families during this time with exercise tips, daily stretches, songs, games and homemade obstacle courses via online classes and videos.”
Horton, who is providing his lessons on Facebook, Instagram and Google Meet, said he hopes the programs will give the viewers an opportunity to “keep their bodies moving productively.”
Daveen DiGiacomo, of Encinitas-based business Blossom Music Tree, has also uploaded free videos on social media for viewers to enjoy. She has also implemented a paid online program for any parents who want music classes for their little ones.
DiGiacomo said the coronavirus pandemic came at a difficult time for her as she just opened a new studio months ago.
“Eight weeks into our first session and we had to shut down indefinitely,” DiGiacomo said. “It’s heartbreaking to see our studio sit empty right now. I very much hope that we survive this, but I don’t know what will happen.”
Despite the need to close her studio temporarily, DiGiacomo and her staff are taking their classes online.
“Since everybody is on lockdown and social distancing at home, we thought it was important to keep the music going for our families,” DiGiacomo said. “Since they know our faces from class, it still maintains that same interactive feeling of a live class. It’s also a way to keep their children engaged since there are no social opportunities right now.”
The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum in Escondido has also implemented a variety of online programs for its social media followers since temporarily closing its doors on March 13.
Wendy Taylor, executive director for the nonprofit, said the need for educational programs such as the ones offered by their group are necessary at a time like this.
“The current need for supportive educational resources like ours is greater than ever,” Taylor said. “Families are striving to keep their children occupied and engaged, and not every district is able to provide the same level of support. Some districts are providing online learning while others have minimal resources. Educational equity is more important now than ever before.”
Taylor said she hopes parents find “some relief” in the programs offered by the museum, which can be found on its Facebook page or on its website.
“Many parents, like myself, are now in a position of needing to work full-time from home, while also caring for their children,” Taylor said. “This is uncharted territory for many, and our online resources provide support for parents as we collectively work out new ways to get through life.”
Although the businesses and groups are looking forward to opening their doors again sometime soon, they are thankful to be able to offer these resources to North County residents and anyone else in the world who may need help.
“We are giving families free learning resources with science, art, and world culture activities to keep children constructively occupied, engaged and educated while educational enrichment is limited,” Taylor said. “We never could have imagined these circumstances happening in our local community and world. We look forward to re-opening in the next few weeks and continuing to be there for the community.”