By now, the initial shock and awe of the Coronavirus is starting to settle in. While it’s still hard to fully grasp the severity of this pandemic, many families are having to adjust their schedules and routines. With children across the country off from school for at least the next couple of weeks, many parents are faced with trying to understand exactly what they’re supposed to do with their children all day. In these unprecedented times, the response from educators has been helpful as many are providing as much guidance as they can to aide in continued distance learning for their students. As parents, it’s ultimately up to you to incorporate a sense of routine and instill a commitment to learning despite all that’s going on in the world. Here are some tips for balancing the day:
Create A Schedule- Time management is key. You will want to establish a sense of routine for both you and your children that offers general guidance on what you should do each day and stick to it. Remember, this isn’t an extended spring break or vacation time. This is our new normal for the moment, and creating structure for yourself and your children helps to alleviate chaos. Start with a morning routine, ensuring everyone is still waking up, washing themselves, and having breakfast in line with school hours. Create time blocks for them to focus on core subjects, arts and crafts, and internet learning.
Make It Fun- you might not be a certified educator, but you are your child’s first and most important teacher. Understand how your child learns and meet them where they are. This isn’t the time to be frustrated or short-tempered if they struggle in certain areas. Take the time to assist them in their weaker areas and establish a reward system to celebrate successes.
Go Outside- obviously, not for play dates at the park or large gatherings, but if you have a yard, a porch, a patio, or a stoop, encourage the children to get some fresh air at least 2x a day. Not only will you get a change of scenery to avoid the inevitable cabin fever, but you’ll also get some exercise and physical activity. The circumstances aren’t ideal, but when’s the last time you played catch with your kids? Find the silver lining in being forced to slow down and get back to basics during this time.
Use Your Resources- the internet is filled with websites, videos, and blogs dedicated to K-12 learning. Search for any and everything that applies to your situation. The Khan Academy, Raz-Kids, Dreambox, and even your local Board of Education websites are filled with guidance and links to learning-based activities. If you have a child or children with special needs, make sure you are communicating with their teachers, caregivers, and/or medical professionals for tips and advice on the best practices specific to your child.
Have “Alone” Time- scheduling rest time for younger children and separation time for older kids is vital to your mental health. Being quarantined is forcing a lot of together time that you may not be used to or even want. Understand that the kids may enjoy being home to have your full attention, but it’s perfectly ok to take some time for yourself as needed during the day.