Virtual Activities For Kids (and Former Kids) This Winter
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
By Matthew St. Amand
As if January was not enough to deal with on its own. Christmas has come and gone, we’re already breaking our New Year’s resolutions, and 2021 has brought with it the unwanted guest from 2020 — the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entering the new year under the “Grey Lockdown” level, the unwanted Zen lessons appear to be “patience” and “forbearance”. The coronavirus has brought a collision between science, nature and “I want to speak to the manager” culture. We don’t control COVID-19. We only control ourselves.
That means a lot of indoor time, getting to know (again) our families and the exact square footage of our homes, as well as the limitations of interactive technology that has been touted for decades as some kind of saviour. I can still remember seeing a “Teledon” computer for the first time at grade school in 1980. It was connected to the “Network”.
“Imagine doing all your shopping from home!” the resource teacher enthused. “You’d never have to leave the house!”
In order to help readers get through the “Panuary” lockdown (however long it lasts!), Biz X reached out to various local businesses, who are doing their part to banish the doldrums, with virtual activities available online to help keep kids (and adults) active, engaged, and entertained. Tecumseh Music Centre
If “Music has charms to sooth a savage breast”, according to an old poem, (William Congreve, in “The Mourning Bride”, 1697) then surely it can take the edge off the savage boredom of Lockdown 2021?
“We offer virtual lessons on a variety of instruments,” says Joel Mayville, Owner-Operator of Tecumseh Music Centre. “Our instructors provide instruction on guitar, piano, vocal, drums, bass guitar, ukulele . . . to advanced musicians and beginners, alike.”
Lessons occur Monday through Saturday for $88 per month, billed monthly. A family rate of $83 per month is available for two or more members of the same immediate family to sign up. The only pieces of equipment required are musical instruments and a computer capable of running Skype or Facetime.
“We got our method down during the first lockdown,” Mayville explains. “It took about a week to get things working online. Once we know the student’s platform — Windows or Apple — that is forwarded to the teacher who connects with the student.”
Learning a musical instrument fosters commitment and demonstrates to kids the rewards of sticking to a project — playing that first song. Even for adults, playing music is beneficial for the brain and well known for stress relief. (Except for guitar students learning bar chords — sorry, they’re a killer for everybody!).
“We also have curbside pickup for everything we sell,” Mayville continues. “So, if a family is just getting started with music lessons, we can make sure they get the instruments they need.”
Even pianos — though, they are on back order. Pianos have been a popular pandemic item.
Tecumseh Music has been cultivating students’ love of music since 2005.
“I cannot believe it’s been 16 years,” Mayville remarks. “The time has flown by.”
The Tecumseh Music Centre is located at 13126 Tecumseh Road East.
Cathy’s Dance Studio Inc.
If there were ever a time people needed to dance, it is now. Cathy Lassaline, Studio Owner and Director of Cathy’s Dance Studio, offers virtual classes over Zoom.
“We’re all feeling very cooped up,” Lassaline expresses. “It is hard going out for that evening walk when it’s so cold outside. Committing to a class can be very motivating for people to get some much-needed exercise.”
Although “virtual” classes will never replace in-person dance instruction, she notes that during this second lockdown, people are more open to Zoom classes than they were back in the spring of last year.
“That was back when the weather was getting better,” she recalls. “People were opening the pool and it was nice being outside, again.”
People of all skill levels and experience are welcome to register for dance lessons.
“We’re a recreational, as well as competitive dance studio,” Lassaline states. “We have our long-time students, but we’re always ready to welcome new students.”
Cathy’s Dance Studio is certainly prepared for these uncertain times. On the home page of their website, there is a “COVID-19” tab. Click that and there is a link to dance class schedules during “Grey Lockdown” level. There is also a “Click here for crash course on Zoom” link on the page, where the seasoned Zoom users take you through the set-up steps.
“Right now, we’re keeping the class sizes to nine pupils per class,” Lassaline explains. “This is so we’re ready for the Red Control Status.”
The benefits children derive from dancing are well documented: it provides exercise and develops agility; psycho–motor development, improving coordination, balance, and sense of rhythm; it’s fun; it fosters creativity and improves self-esteem.
It’s worth noting that tuition at Cathy’s Dance Studio has not been raised in the past year, and all fees are “per family”. So, for families with more than one child, or if parents want to join in, the fee structure is straightforward and minimizes wallet cramp.
“We’ve have adult hip-hop and jazz dance,” Lassaline says. “It’s a great way to get moving, get some exercise. We all say we’re going to take that walk after dinner, but having a dance class on the calendar can be more motivating.”
Even though we’re all running into the limitations of our technology, there is a certain level of socializing that occurs during the classes. Not much, but every little bit helps.
Lassaline has been teaching dance for the past 35 years and her studio has been open for 15 years. It’s located in the plaza on the corner of Walker Road and Foster Avenue, at 2220B Foster Avenue.
Film Camp For Kids & Youth
If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s how much we rely on our artists to get us through the day. Particularly, those artists in film and television. A new crop of filmmakers and show runners are being trained in Windsor each year.
It’s happening at Film Camp for Kids & Youth, which was started in 2013 by Amanda Gellman, President and CEO of MANAN Strategy Consultants.
There has never been a better time to sign up.
“We received a grant from the Canadian Red Cross to offer free online programming for children, teens and seniors,” Gellman mentions. “Classes cover various aspects of filmmaking — such as sound, make-up, lighting, editing — as well as art and photography. Our instructors can offer individual or group instruction in painting, drawing, arts/crafts, and understanding social media. We are also working with a few non-profits to offer online art to youth with special needs.”
When the summer film camp for kids went online, Gellman and the instructors had mixed feelings about how successful virtual filmmaking instruction would be.
“We were surprised how well the summer camps went,” she says. “The films all came out great. The students were ecstatic to see them.”
The Film Camp for Kids & Youth classes are all interactive, live, and small-group.
“We only allow four to six youth per class,” Gellman continues, “though we do have a few classes with 10 students.”
Classes occur online after school and on weekends. The website has numerous free “on demand” instructional videos at no charge, where students choose topics and learn on their own. The videos were created in-house by Film Camp instructors, so the content is safe for young viewers.
Equipment required for the classes is minimal. All that is required is a computer capable of running conferencing software, such as Zoom — Film Camp for Kids & Youth owns the Zoom licences — and something to shoot a video with. Most kids use a cell phone or tablet.
“For the craft classes, we provide the supplies,” Gellman notes.
There are plans for a week-long film camp during March Break, four hours per day, for a small fee. It will be entirely online, this year.
“Each student takes a piece of the script and films that,” she explains. “Then, they submit their work online and the students go over it with camp instructors.”
There are numerous student films on the website, and videos explaining the various programs offered.
One way adults have made it through the pandemic is by taking on “pandemic projects” — reading that 1,000 page novel that has mocked us from the bookshelf, or learning macramé, a new language, or bluegrass fiddling.
Dawn Daignault, Code Ninja’s Centre Director in Windsor, explains to Biz X how coding could be the perfect pandemic project for kids.
“Coding is the literacy of the future,” Daignault states. “It’s everywhere around us. It’s what turns the street lights on at night, what makes online shopping possible and makes our Smartphones work. Almost every part of our daily lives is touched by it.”
For the lockdown, Code Ninjas came up with many virtual ways to engage homebound children in a fun and productive manner through programs such as At-Home Coding and Virtual Camps.
Here’s how their process works. Students progress through the Code Ninjas program much the same way as students in traditional karate classes do: through a series of coloured belts.
White belt is where it all begins.
Building games is the perfect springboard because the kids see when their code is working and learn how to fix it when it’s not.
“On average, students progress from white to yellow belt in about two months,” Daignault continues. “There is no pressure to do so, however. Everyone learns at their own pace.”