Over the coming weeks, Houston’s parents and kids are going to be spending a LOT more time together. How long, no-one knows, but one thing’s for sure, weeks of videos games and Netflix or Disney+ binges are not a great idea for kids or their parents.
Knowing just how to keep kids – and possibly kids of different ages – effectively amused and still learning, is a big challenge. Here are just a few free resources and tips to help you get started:
Learn at Home
Scholastic published an online resource that offers day-to-day projects to keep children reading, thinking and growing during the self-quarantine.
Even when schools are closed, you can keep the learning going with these special cross-curricular journeys,” the program’s website reads. “Every day includes four separate learning experiences, each built around a thrilling, meaningful story or video. Kids can do them on their own, with their families, or with their teachers. Just find your grade level and let the learning begin!”
Create a schedule
The Khan Academy created a template for a schedule parents can use to help their children stay focused and learn at the same time. The schedule begins with breakfast and getting ready (much like a traditional day) and then jumping into online learning. From there, work in some recess and reading time before taking a break and allowing for a snack. Give your child some writing practice, lunch and then some time with the family before sending them off to bed.
The cool news about the Khan Academy schedules is that there are multiple schedules for different ages, too. It begins with schedules for those in preschool, kindergarten, and first and second grade. It also includes schedules adapted for those in grades three to five, six to nine and 10 to 12, which includes some SAT prep information.
Encourage a routine
Creating a routine for your child is one of the best things you can do during a self-quarantine. One idea might be to create a screen time routine. Create a set time every day when children can use their screens. That way, they don’t become too focused on it.
Follow through when the scheduled time for screens is over, and don’t leave TV on as background noise. If the house feels too quiet, turn on some music instead. Outside the scheduled time block, only use screens when you (the parent) chooses it because you need it. Save screens for big moments, like when you have a conference call or dinner prep isn’t going well.
Get daily tips from PBS
PBS has created a daily newsletter that will offer activity ideas and tips you can use for playing and learning at home.
PBS Kids also offers a 24/7 channel with education series, a video app with educational videos, a games app with 200 games and a parents’ website with information and tips for parents.
Embrace sticker books
You can find sticker books at dollar stores that will keep children entertained for hours. It requires some concentration and focus from children, so it is more than just a fun activity.
Work on puzzles
Puzzles require brain power and critical thinking to put the pieces together. Buying a large puzzle to put together as a family over the coming weeks could be a good way to bond during the quarantine.
Bring in the art supplies
Painting? Drawing? Coloring? All of these are options if you buy the right supplies. Art supplies will help children and parents work together for fun. Like picture books, art work requires focus and concentration, too. While your child is out of school, this will certainly help them stay energized and educated.
Let them help with cooking
Need help cooking dinner or lunch? Enlist the child. Maybe you won’t want to do this if the child is sick. But if they’re healthy and you’re healthy, teach them how to build their own lunches and dinner.
Grab a tablet
Load the tablet with games and educational apps for you to use to help your child learn. Maybe institute “tablet hours” where your child needs to stay on the tablet to learn a second language or play a memory-based game.
You can’t go out to see people much. You want to keep your child at home. But you want them to keep in contact. One idea might be to encourage your child to write letters to their friends, relatives and family members. This allows them to practice their writing skills and gives them a chance to stay in contact with people.
Look, your children are going to be home with you for a foreseeable future. Don’t worry if you schedule a Netflix day or a movie marathon occasionally. Maybe you only have half a day of education. That’s fine too.
Of course even with the most perfectly planned schedule, you will still have days when you just can’t muster the energy to come up with even the simplest activity and instead let them watch another episode of their favorite show. That’s O.K too. Do what you need to do to get through that day. You’ll have your routine to go back to the next day. And the one after that, too.
Looking for more helpful resources and tips to help you navigate self isolation and the other measures being taken to help combat COVID19 right now? Stay tuned here, we have lots more coming! Sign up for our newsletter and you’ll get even more!