original article appeared in the March 24, 2020 edition of the Tri-City Voice
With schools shuttered and the kiddos at home for who knows how long, families are suddenly having to deal with issues that many have never faced before. Teachers are doing their best to keep the flow of education running smoothly through online tools, but ultimately it is up to the parents or guardians to keep their young ones on task. Here are some ideas to help you with your homeschooling efforts:
Set Up A Routine
Just like those hazy days of summer, when there’s no place to go, kids tend to sleep in and lounge about. While this can be a nice change from getting up early every day, it’s important to keep everyone on a schedule. As reported by the New York Post, Massachusetts mom Jessica McHale recently created a colorful “COVID-19 Daily Schedule” that includes blocks of time for “morning walk,” “creative time” and “academic time.” She posted her schedule on Facebook where it has been shared over 52,000 times. Said McHale, “I had no idea so many other people would like it. I think it’s because routines provide comfort, and right now, there is so much chaos that everyone is just looking for comfort and safety wherever they can find it.”
Take walks, ride bikes. go to the park. Set up an obstacle course in your backyard. Exercise is an important part of the school day, whether it’s recess or P.E., and being at home should be no different. Schedule plenty of fresh air time to rejuvenate those tired brains.
Virtual Field Trips
Many museums and zoos are now offering online tours. There’s no better time to see the world from the comfort of your own home. Check out the San Diego Zoo, the Monterey Aquarium, Yellowstone National Park, the Smithsonian, the New York Metropolitan Museum, Ellis Island, the Louvre, the Great Wall of China, and many more! There are also online planetariums and geographic adventures where you can learn about everything from volcanoes to rain forests.
Learn the Ancient Arts
Once upon a time there was a class in high school called “Home Economics” where real life skills were taught. Baking, sewing, knitting, balancing a checkbook, typing, washing dishes, etc. – these are all useful skills that kids will need somewhere down the road and now is the perfect time to teach them. Some of these may already be a part of their chores routine. If they’re frustrated with school, mastering another skill may give them the confidence to keep going.
Board games, card games, role playing games – these are all fun ways to pass the time and offer a fun break from the books. We’re not talking about video games here, but games where the family can come together and socialize. Dust off those classics like Sorry!, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, or Twister. Work on a puzzle. Create a treasure hunt!
Get the whole family involved in a home improvement project, like painting the bedroom or pulling weeds or building a desk. Now is also a good time for spring cleaning – sort through those old clothes and shoes. Or help organize a closet. Clean the house of clutter. The longer we stay sheltered in place, the more important it will be to maintain a clean living environment.
Sustained silent reading can be done at home as well, easy peasy. It’s remarkable how comforting it can be, reading a book you like in a room where others are doing the same, like an intimate library. Or you may want to try listening to an audio book or podcast together, like an old timey radio show.
With all of this online learning taking up a big chunk of the day, try to get the kids away from youTube and Instagram with some of the above ideas. Being home with family under these circumstances can be stressful and challenging, but it can also be a time for bonding and fun.