Quarantine and Developing "soft skills" with Tools

Image of Jill Stribling
Jill Stribling
Chores, Tinkering and Exploring tools gets children excited everyday and they are a great way to teach practical things at home such as
This is part 2 of a 4 part series designed to help families survive and THRIVE in "THE NEW NORMAL" Pandemic or No Pandemic...

Part 1: CHEAT and find "EDUtainment" (parents survival guide)

* Part 2: Homeschooling for Emotional Intelligence (Designed to help kids focus on what parents actually CAN teach)

Part 3: EMPATHY training for staff (Designed to help schools, teachers and administration)

Part 4: CARE for KIDS is CSR (Designed to help companies and employees work better)

These posts to help with solutions because the sooner we ALL adapt, the better off children will be! The problems and discomfort will continue to arise until we allow ourselves to transition. At English for Fun, our modern-day education prepares students to be "ready for anything", but ADULTS (parents, teachers, workers, companies and schools) are still in shock about the new reality.

***At the END you can Download a FREE Homeschooling for Fun "EDUtainment" guidebook filled with ideas to teach in the English for Fun way at home)***

Let's see if these tools can make times of FEAR easier, so that we can adapt to online camps and virtual programs since they ARE here to stay!

Why all this talk about FEAR?

I want to help adults to STOP projecting FEAR on to children because it shape the adults they will be in the future. The only way to fix the problem is by understanding FEAR (Step 1) and accepting the fact that there is a problem that we need to overcome (Step 2).

HubSpot Video

Of course I am afraid! I own a business and I'm of a certain age so I know that picking myself back up after all of this will be harder now than it was 20 years ago...

But I also know that the opportunities are endless when I am FEARless and I have a lot of people who depend on me, people who I WILL NOT let down. And while some people hide and fall apart in a crisis...I'm American and that foundation (ahem...education), makes me THRIVE! "A la Americana"!

My whole country was build around hard work, solving problems, empowerment, celebrating individuality and creativity...which are ...


The necessary TOOLS for facing FEARs!

It's how U.S.A. became a place that people wanted to immigrate to from all over the world.

Are Americans lost right now? Is our leadership proving the opposite of our values daily? YES...which is why people are so confused!

But isn't everyone LOST right now?!?!?


Times of transition do that to people...especially when you have a "Fixed Mindset" because change highlights FEAR!

Let's move forward, together and think about the possibilities of our future in "The NEW Normal"!

And let's do it in my favorite way...with T.I.P.S. and TOOLS!

Mateo Learns About Dangerous Tools by DOING and we re convinced that he will be capable of home repairs before he turns 51

The coolest thing about learning at home can be done in a practical way. You have permission to use dangerous tools!

And parents finally have the time to work on the skills that really count..."Soft Skills"!



Leave the worksheets in the recycling bin and teach your children what will help them succeed in life.

There is no OUTSOURCING with manners mom and dad! Right now we have the perfect excuse to give Generation Z the skills it will take to THRIVE!


Jill's 3 T.I.P.S. to teach "Soft Skill" for a Better World:

Jill Stribling is the owner and founder of English for Fun, she has T.I.P.S. to reduce the pressure on parents to homeschool in this current climate, with the idea of, "teach what you know"!

1. Get out of school chats and really connect

2. Model kindness, compassion and care

3. Do CHORES-FREE Help IS good for growth


Fight FEAR with TOOLS 

We can expect this "lockdown" to return again so we might as well put an emergency plan in place NOW.

And playing with tools is FUN for everyone! It teaches kids to fix things and it helps them feel useful at home! Think....it's a useful hobby that WILL build a 21st century brain!

Tools are great for building important 21st century skills:

  • complex problem solving
  • community support
  • critical thinking
  • creativity
  • team work
  • scaffolding
  • pride in work
  • starting/finishing tasks
  • proactivity
  • real world experiences

Wouldn't you love it if you had more people at work with those skills???

Working with tools helps build our favorite buzz word: SELF-EFFICACY

Using tools will save us at home! As a strategy for "teaching what we know" and "learning by doing" tools even empower parents as educators. This gives us control of our work/life balance when homeschooling falls in our lap. DIY or Makers project are a part of real learning and the sooner our kids learn how to be resourceful and helpful, the better it is for everyone! 


Those who know English for Fun, know about our obsession with teaching in our Makerspaces and bringing TOOLS into ours classroom but did you know that as part of our American NECPA Accreditation, we need a woodworking area in each classroom?


Why do you think that teaching children to use tools is so important that it's a considered BEST PRACTICES in education?

Tools teach children about REAL life!

Cate Heroman, Makerspace Guru and author of  Making and Tinkering, came to train our team at English for Fun in 2019.

1. Less Chats and more CONNECTION

I worry when I see adults turning to collective FEAR and unsafely using mobs as an outlet for rage and frustration. Grief stricken, scared and feeling helpless works initially but the only way we are going to survive this WAR on COVID-19 is by working together so it's time to move forward. 

But BEWARE...many people survive and earn a lot of money when chaos occurs. And since they are PARASITES (or they unknowingly work for them), they want to confuse us all through FEAR!

How do parasites find a following in the 21st century where FEAR plays in:

  1.  Collective fear in group CHATS
  2. "Bravery" in anonymity on SOCIAL MEDIA which boomed FAKE NEWS

The idea is to prove a point (i.e. getting people protesting against change NOW hurts others by encouraging physical contact, elbow-to-elbow and bringing guns into the city hall to threaten leaders). Same tactic, different tool!

But the negativity and the anger makes us feel BAD!

When I see the distractions that our smartphone "pacifiers" cause...

And I see the suffering that happens in communities, as a result of group chats, I realize that they are totally unnecessary in FEARful moments like NOW!

So do your family a favor and get OUT. Take a break from the drama and focus on your KIDS:

  • The worst form of communication is the parent Whatsapp classroom chats! I would suggest that everyone eliminated them RIGHT NOW because someone with no online etiquette always spirals negatively in a rage and passes misinformation or rants to others. Parent chats are a distraction right now when we are alone! And quite frankly, if there are no cupcakes going to school or "wear red tomorrow for spirit day" happening, they aren't necessary because we are NOT the student and school is NOT for US! Actually, the classroom chats distract parents from PARENTING and they hurt learning communities during times of FEAR so my BEST advise is to suffer in silence! 

Seriously...think about the negativity available in times of FEAR. When I see what bullies and trolls are saying on @twitter...I realize what a useless time suck that hole is!

For my time suck...I psychologically analyzed these FEARfully useless "TWEETER" people (BTW...many are actually bots)

This tool, Sparktoro.com gives an analysis of our followers on @twitter. After years of paying "community managers" to find solid leads!

I would imagine that each person can do the same thing to see if those who repost things that really "fire them up" are bots or humans in the real world.

So...I wonder whose point we are really trying to prove?!? Is infecting more people with RAGE really going to help us to stimulate the economy? Narcissists are at it again!

And what is the real goal of these NARCISSISTS?

They LOVE feeling the RUSH of power (listen to the podcast, please). They are so empty on the inside that they need reaffirmation by hearing everyone says, "Yes boss", "Whatever you say, boss"...and they will make noise and cause senseless violence at the possibility of hearing those phrases!

Is that really going to work in the 21st Century? In 2020, we are proven to be smarter than generations of the past because amongst other things, we had more access to higher education. Then the younger generations, with the internet to find parental resources and private classes meant more access to education. Most people now have access to knowledge and training at the tap of a finger on a smartphone. Click here to listen to the research behind Macleans analysis of the multi-generational war that is happening right now.

That hierarchy lifestyle really is the way of the Baby Boomer generation, not anyone who was born after the 70s! These should be retirees, who continually gets themselves involved in politics, and who refuses to retire from the corporate world, are blocking our transition! They FEAR retirement and relaxation! They simply don't understand that the way things were done in the 20th century, where factories and mass production required that no one "thought", and "Reganomics" where ME FIRST is all that mattered. This is NOT what we need today.

So this is my CALL TO ACTION...I am begging you, Boomers to PLEASE retire for the good of our Coronavirus recovery! You do not have the strength, the stamina or the mindset to fight in the 21st century where our wars cannot be bullied or "parasited" (hence Trumps total lack of control on twitter and his embarrassing press conferences)! You have worked so hard to get us here. We are proud of your efforts. But NOW you are making a fool out of yourselves by staying involved and you tarnish the image that we all had of you, the longer that you meddle in our lives!

2. Model Kindness, Compassion and Care 

Lets be real. With schools learning to operate for the first time online and no "front loading" done for kids, just logging on and making it to the google classroom meetings is a challenge. I get copied in emails about missing classroom assignments. Parents, we ARE unprepared for homeschooling, face it! So in the initial phase of quarantine, not much in the way of new material and academics will be happening! 

What learning is really happening right now?

The bigger problem was that my kids were learning that:

  1. Mommy is a MONSTER
  2. Mom can't manage a household, clean or cook
  3. Mommy Dearest gets distracted easily and looks for reasons to organize something instead of working, just like a kid
  4. Mean Mommy doesn't remember how to do math problems
  5. Mummy is a terrible teacher under this kind of stress

Life skills, I can teach...

Manners ok!

It's really all that schools should count on parents for right now.

With my husband in the hospital, it made things change dramatically. Between single parenting, worrying about our team and the children, and basic safety and survival, I was also fielding frantic emails about reimbursements from parents (FEARfully BAD taste). Starting up our incredibly online classes and a completely different business within 24 hours, I couldn't be responsible for more. There weren't enough hours in the day!

I cancelled the Homeschooling of the Year Mom competition and decided to focus on raising good humans while I actually have the time!

FEAR is the Root of Bad Manners

You can look at my speeches and our blog posts since before 2014 and you will see that overcoming FEAR is my fascination!

Why? As long as I can remember, I have been tempted by everything that involves risk even though I was afraid. I must find excitement  and strength in beating the FEAR out. It's about control and I refused to let FEAR control my life.

FEAR can be cured with "soft skills" training through proper education and a love of learning from others.

Curiosity cures FEAR! When humans are engaged and challenging ourselves and trying new things, our brains are HAPPY and we don't have time to criticize others or invent conspiracies. I have been watching the FEARful and writing about their behaviors in FEAR journals for years (or random "post-its"-literally ask my family and our team and hear them laugh)!  When we get "stuck" or "bored" is when the problems happen. Everybody needs a goal driven life! As we are seeing right now, when we refuse to change and adapt and try new things, all hell breaks loose!

Hence...COVID-19 and the spectacle we are all watching. The world is paralyzed with FEAR. Stuck in an old way of doing things, based on a hierarchy of human value, and educational system that worked when everyone needed to do the same thing!

Kids need healthy alternatives for stimulation and relationships that do not involve their parents so find an alternative for "EDUtainment". Let our schools innovate their systems over the next months (and if they don't, please LEAVE). Parents should focus on teaching kindness to our kids by doing something nice for someone else, everyday:


Ann G. is a personal favorite at English for Fun! She came to teach our team about coding for younger learners back in 2016. Her blogs are outstanding resources for anything from tech smarts to Zoom instructional videos to help parents and children thrive online.


Kids are always excited to explore with these very grown-up tools. Using tools are a unique learning opportunity for young children to feel closer to parents. Here's why...

Learning to solve a problem is not an innate skill, especially when there are lots of loving people as well as technology to solve small daily skill. If we get back to basics, with a hammer and nails, or taking apart that broken toaster to see what is on the inside, we teach our kids how to CARE for the work of others in their world.

So the exploration of "Makerspace" environments invite children to practice problem solving by creating their ideas in a 3D type of way. How can you get a box to be a robot? Can you use anything to be the legs of the robot? How big do the legs have to be and how will they be attached.

Problem solving is a life skill that has underlying values:

  • creativity
  • perseverance
  • flexibility
  • communication
By working with real tools and building real objects, we value the work that the children are doing and promote their respect and understanding of learning. At English for Fun, we do these things everyday in our online S.T.E.A.M.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, Music)  learning programs and we spend a lot of time using tools in our professionally designed Makerspaces at our Urban Summer Camps!

Tinkering activities also support peer relationships. Most importantly, working together builds empathy and negotiation skills. Tinkering requires team work and collaboration to improve the social relationships between adults and children. Our new favorite word in light of Coronavirus is flexibility, which is also practiced when Making at home. Kids eyes light up and children become very serious when using the tools. They recognize that this work needs their full attention and focus in order to use tools safely. Using these materials requires self-regulation, commitment and patience.

3. CHORES are the #1 predictor of success in life 

Steps to survival... STOP and think for a minute.

What do you see at work that drives you insane? Most studies say it is:

  • selfishness
  • unfinished tasks
  • need for micromanaging
  • disrespectful behavior

Why? They are missing life habits!

All things that should have been taught in childhood and at home...by giving kids responsibilities and duties.

"Earning your keep" as my parents would say to keep the entitlement away!

Bad manners are ruining the modern day working environment and we have been blessed with this time to fix the issue for future generations.

I'm not going to analyze the "whys" right now but common sense can bring us all to our own conclusion!

And after seeing some of the habits missing in modern day working environments, both as a business owner and as a parent with children in school...

It's time for kids to go back to doing CHORES! Let's decided as parents that kids needed to help our MORE. I honestly put them to work because I couldn't get anything else done!

So focusing on the teaching and learning that we never have time to do is part of our duty to bring soft skills back to the world! Interpersonal Skills are the biggest predictor of success and we know that they are best taught at home. They are learned through modeling and constructively criticizing when necessary.

This time tools means any of the following:

  • a mop
  • a broom
  • a dust rag
  • a bucket of soapy water
  • dirty clothes to sort
  • clean clothes to fold 
  • Netflix Marie Kondo to inspire the whole family if you are feeling organizationally challenged and looking for inspiration

Simplify your life by finding "EDUtainment"

Working with Tools is one way to educate at home. But kids need learning and routines. If the school has left you frustrated and lonely, search for online options. Ones where you can feel better about the lack of socialization, the routines, the proper discipline habits and FUN. We offer great programs that are online and involved in learning process with and without tools. Google searcher can also help you to find the right Virtual Learning Program.

Does homeschool have to be in the form of sit down lessons with worksheets and mom as the teacher, micromanaging the google classrooms? NO!

It also feels better if our children are not learning from ANOTHER Youtube Influencer video or a video game! IF they are in a great "EDUtainment" program, we know that they are paying attention to each other and interacting safely with a teacher guiding them.

Everyone needs routines so occupying kids time with education feels like better parenting!


"I call it Socially Distancing at home!" Tiffany,

Camp Quarantine

Camp Quarantine is born: Respect, Empowerment and Care are back in our lives

I wish I could take the credit. I fell into this strategy, thanks to our amazing team of educators! As the teachers were preparing our offline programs for online school (in less than 24h), the demo classes gave me the Camp Quarantine idea! My children attended a class to film for the public (10 FEARful days into quarantine-I had not slept or stopped worrying at all). It was the first time since we were on lockdown that I felt safe! Seeing my kids engage with other kids, watching the fun activities the teachers lead, seeing my kids look HAPPY and NOT WORRIED for the first time in 2 weeks made me start to cry! Every time I talk about this with our teachers, I get emotional, because they saved me from the FEAR spiral and I actually felt hopeful. Not just because I trusted them, but because they showed the children that they care and that gave me "a minute" to breathe! I knew that my kids would be OK so it was a total relief! 

We have several activities and classes and online. Aside from Camp Quarantine there is:

  • S.T.E.A.M.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, Music) group classes (2-12 year olds, 1-2 hours a week)
  • Virtual Preschool (0-4 year olds, 3 hours a day, which requires more parental guidance based on age and schooling experience)
  • Virtual Camp (4-12 year olds, 4.5 hours a day)
  • Yoga for Fun (30 minute family classes, daily)

Parents needing "EDUtainment" can look no further...

While enjoying that CQ FREE time...remember...what the world really needs is a BABY BOOM 2020!

Let's lower the amount of pressure that we are putting on ourselves in this unexpected, worldwide CRISIS! Our reactions to FEAR are completely normal. There was no way to prepare in advance for what the 24/7 family quarantine would be like so no government could have handled it better. Unless we are thrown in, "sink or swim", we can't go to war! No strategy is possible (see people punching each other over toilet paper and hoarding ridiculous and non-ridiculous, although selfish, things). But now that we are here we need to survive.

When we know that our kids are "OK", then we can focus on being "OK" too!

In order to survive all of this without serious family trauma (we will ALL have PTSD when this is over), "WE just need a minute!"


Here is a bonus for reading to the end of my "FEARy Tales". FREE Homeschooling for Fun Guide with T.I.P.S. and TOOLS to use at home: