Erica Carulli poses for a fun selfie with her sons Dominick, 9, Anthony, 5, and Luca, 3. Erica Carulli and kids
Erica Carulli poses for a fun selfie with her sons Dominick, 9, Anthony, 5, and Luca, 3.

Michigan mom and psychotherapist Erica Carulli talks how she’s staying active and open with her kids during this crisis. 

MICHIGAN — As the community shuts down during Michigan’s coronavirus outbreak — including all K-12 schools until April — Michigan parents face a new pressure to keep their kids engaged in activities and learning during the day. 

Then there’s answering all those questions: Why can’t we go out? Where are my friends? When can we go back to grandma and grandpa’s house?

It’s work for a Michigan parent, to make it all make sense for a kid. 

For Erica Carulli and her three boys, this all means turning her Royal Oak home into a classroom. 

And, staying in tune with feelings. This mom is the owner and lead psychotherapist of the SOULspace Wellness Center, a space for counseling and holistic healing. 

She has two sons in school, Dominick, 9, and Anthony, 5, while her three-year-old, Luca, is still at home. For day two of their homeschool session, Carulli put on a video of a teacher reading children’s books, then the four of them went on a St. Patrick’s Day treasure hunt, where the kids searched the neighborhood and collected green items and spotted shamrocks placed on house windows. 

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While she enjoys spending more time with her children, Caruilli is also talking to them about the coronavirus. She says that’s important. 

As a psychotherapist who specializes in trauma and PTSD, she wants to know how her kids are feeling during this uncertain time. She said her two younger sons do not really understand what is going on, while little Dominick, 9, is already old enough to be adamant about following the safety guidelines from the state and CDC. 

“We’re all human, and that includes our kids.” Carulli said. “This new normal that we’re living in is influencing everyone, so we need to work really diligently as caregivers on monitoring our reactions to things and making sure that we remind ourselves that we’re showing our children how to react in the face of scary, global issues. Us staying calm, cool and collected is definitely important for our children.” 

Though she has a schedule in place, Carulli shapes the day according to what interests her children. 

“If they’re really interested in dinosaurs today, then we’ll focus on dinosaurs,” she said. 

Carulli said while some kids are able to learn from completing a workbook, she tries to make her lessons hands-on and an activity that all three of her sons will enjoy.  

“We do things like cooking,” she said. “So I’ll have one of the kids doing the reading of the recipe and one of the kids doing the measuring and the other doing the combination of the ingredients. They’re all learning, they’re using fractions and they’re working together.” 

Other activities Carulli has her boys do include hopscotch games using math equations, letter recognition, live streams of teachers and authors reading, and virtual tours of museums and other attractions. On Monday, Dominick, Anthony and Luca had the chance to go on a “safari,” learning about penguins and hippos. 

“They’re all pretty incredible,” Carulli said. “They’re my three favorite boys in the whole world.”