If you have suddenly found yourself home alone with your offspring and are at a loss on how to navigate the upcoming weeks of quarantine, maybe we can help.
Don't worry, this is not another color-coded, every-second-counted sort of schedule, but rather a casual guide to help you feel like you've got this covered. Because you do, though you might lose a little sanity somewhere along the way.
Most kids thrive on it. So try to keep one somewhat intact. Get up, have breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, and so on. There is nothing wrong with sitting around in your pajamas, if it feels right for you. But I find my kids focus better when we differentiate between study days and lazy days.
CLICK HERE to download and print our Daily School Closure PDF or make a copy of our Google document to customize your own.
2. Don't sweat the small stuff.
Routine is an important part of our day, but if we stray from the plan, that's okay too. Don't think that just because kids aren't sitting in front of a worksheet that they aren't learning.
PBS and documentaries are a great way to ease into academics. TED-Ed is a great online resource chock-full of interesting videos covering extensive topics.
In addition, due to recent circumstances many other websites are offering tours, live sessions, and a ton of activities to engage young minds.
3. Give them the reins.
Once you've reviewed the assignments submitted by your child's teacher, turn over learning to the kids to expand on the subjects. Let them lead.
This is especially useful for older students who feel that they don't need supervision or enforced schedules. Have them pick a topic to research. Is there something related to what they're studying that they can learn more about? Or perhaps it's time to dive into a subject they've always wanted to know more about. A historical event? Physics? Woodworking? In the information age, we really have everything we need at our fingertips.
We can encourage them further by asking them to teach us (the parents/caregivers/educators) something. Anything. Not only will they have to formulate a plan and communicate it clearly, but it will also reinforce the lesson within their own minds
4. Go outside.
Sure, Colorado weather is unpredictable this time of year, but get outside when you can. Stroll around the block. Take a bike ride. Find an open space and hike. You can find lists for nature scavenger hunts online. Fresh air and sunshine are stabilizing. And let's not forget the added benefit of burning off energy from being cooped up.
5. Think outside the box.
One can learn in just about any situation. Cooking together. Building forts. Folding paper airplanes or folding laundry. Board games, LEGO®, or even just opening up a discussion about something you have recently viewed (say a museum tour or a movie) can benefit kids and adults alike.
Also, don't be afraid to give kids free time to explore on their own. For example, my 6-year-old spends one to two hours daily playing with LEGO bricks. The only rule is that it's screen-free time. If he gets bored, he has books, art supplies, and other alternatives. If nothing else, he can lie down and stare at the ceiling.
Necessity is the mother of invention, but boredom breeds creativity.
6. Take a timeout.
Whether they have school-assigned work or you're just trying to keep them busy, remember to take breaks. Time-outs for snacks, play, recess in the backyard... even screen time can go a long way in keeping everyone calm and focused.
The need for scheduled breaks will vary from family to family. Younger kids may only be able to focus on a specific lesson for 15-20 minutes at a time. But older students and parents need a chance to regroup also.
There's only so far our attention spans and patience will extend; taking regular breaks are a great way to refresh (this includes hiding in the nearest closet with a candy bar while the kids bounce off the walls). Do whatever you need to get through the day — no judgment here.
Seriously, read all the books. Read together. Read aloud or quietly. Read in a blanket fort with a flashlight or outside under a tree.
Under normal circumstances, a trip to the library is a great way to spend a day. Did you know that Douglas County library cardholders have access to digital media as well?
Apps can be downloaded to most phones and tablets. Create an account with your library card number and you have access to a ton of books, movies, comics, music, and more. Personally, we love to download kid-friendly audiobooks and listen while we are doing other activities, such as coloring, playing, or completing chores.
Lastly, keep in mind that the next few weeks will not make or break your child's education. Try to learn something together, but focus on the memories that can be made and the lasting impression that a little extra family time can provide.