Parents. Teachers. You are all doing an amazing job in an unprecedented time. It is easy to get stressed about being able to facilitate the best education (or even just sanity in captivity) for our kids. There is a steep learning curve as we navigate this chaotic new balance of appreciating the seriousness of our world state, trying to maintain our daily work and parenting lives and being the best teacher, employee, caretaker of multiple generations, sanitizer, referee… the list goes on…
If you are dealing with kids and multiple other roles simultaneously, you do not have time to read lengthy blogs. This is survival. So instead of worrying about checking every box or navigating 18 log-ins for each child who ultimately just wants to play games on the school issued Chromebook, here are some ideas/projects that are hopefully easy enough to occupy the bodies and minds of those kiddos who are as lost as we are right now without their typical daily structure! There is much to be learned in essential life skills and there couldn’t be a better time than now to include those kids or students in the process instead of trying to spin all the plates at once. So here are some ideas to give you some inspiration and keep those kids busy during this time. Most do not require a lot of parental involvement!
- A letter to a friend or grandparent that may be feeling isolated or lonely.
- A thank you note to a healthcare worker, grocery store employee, janitor or first responder.
- A chalk message for the neighbors on the driveway.
- A sign of solidarity for neighbors in your window.
- A book to someone younger in your home.
- A book to a relative over Facetime or Zoom.
- A “distance” game with someone such as battleship, chess or charades over Facetime or Zoom.
- Treasure hunt with neighborhood kids by each hiding a painted rock or writing a chalk message somewhere in the neighborhood that can be spotted by a friend on a daily walk.
- An instrument or sing a song to a loved one over video chat.
- Plan a distance lunch date with friends over a video call.
- Schedule a surprise guest to call and have your kids ask the guest three questions to figure out who he/she is.
- A new skill with a video tutorial: drawing, playing an instrument, coding, to play a new board game.
- Textile work: sewing on a button, knitting, crocheting, using a sewing machine
- Help with meal preparation by looking at recipes and planning groceries.
- Learn to cook meals.
- Set and clear the table and clean up afterwards.
- Help with small house repairs: Changing lightbulbs, filling dings in the wall, tightening the bolts on kitchen chairs.
- Help with chores around the home such as taking out the trash, sweeping, and organizing closets.
- Clean a bathroom.
- Learn laundry processes such as sorting, washing, drying, folding, and running a machine.
Health and Physical:
- Use Go Noodle to get those kids dancing with free movement videos.
- Do 30 jumping jacks and 5 sprints or burpees in the front yard or balcony when they are bouncing off the walls.
- Get them stretching with some pointers from Health Powered Kids.
- Try free online meditations for kids and teens here.
- Take daily walks outside.
- Explore Student activities with the 3M Young Scientist Lab.
- Experiment with NASA at home for kids and families.
- Have some fun coding with Lightbot.
- Discover how computers work without using a screen with Turing Tumble (and they won’t be using the internet bandwidth!) For extra help try using the Turing Tumble practice guide. You can also try a Turing Tumble simulator online here.
- Take a code break on Code.org.
- Create a Rube Goldberg Machine with anything you can find around the house. Information and examples here.
- Have Legos, Tinker Toys or Magnatiles? Have them get building! Even a simple fort does the trick!
Having attempted a balance of home schooling for a few weeks now, I’ve determined that:
1. You can’t do it all. We need to keep our expectations not only for ourselves, but for these kids--in check.
2. There is a lot to be learned—life skills, in the day to day household.
3. It does not need to be perfect—or anywhere near that.
4. Give yourself grace and appreciate the life lessons.
5. There are MANY educational opportunities for our kids if we allow some flexibility in their learning.
6. A daily or weekly checklist may be easier than a regimented schedule if you can make it work.
There are so many life lessons to be learned during this chaotic time. I think one of the most essential at this point is to teach the courtesy of social distancing so that it does not have to become social dodging. We are all in this together. It may be tough to juggle, but it certainly does not have to perfect. You are showing your kids and students what it means to be a part of something bigger, how to cope during a stressful time and how priorities can shift during times of crisis. Take a moment to acknowledge these important roles you are more than fulfilling—and let the rest go.