As schools were closed due to COVID-19, the students are not attending classes like before. Because of that, the parents are suddenly faced with the challenge of keeping their children entertained and occupied at home.
In addition, the responsibility for the kids’ continued learning had fallen upon the parents. This may prove to be a difficult task for you especially if you are a parent who have to work-from-home.
Whatever the case may be, the pandemic is surely disrupting your routine, leaving you with a child to look after.
That is a pretty challenging work because more often than not, your kids would be more than happy to spend the whole day playing mobile games and watching TikTok dance challenges.
While it can be helpful to provide a way for the kids to let off some steam, there should be a clear boundary between recreation and lazying around.
Here are some of the expert-recommended ways to keep your kids’ minds stimulated, happy, and sane as possible while on home quarantine.
Talk to Kids About Coronavirus
Understandably, your kids are afraid and confused. After all, people have always been afraid of the unknown. And the uncertainty and danger brought about by the Coronavirus is bound to scare anyone.
You can ease the confusion by telling your kids why the schools are closed and why they can’t go out to play anymore. Also, you can let them know why it is important to self-isolate.
According to Dr. Richard Horowitz, a Florida-based parenting coach and author of Family Centered Parenting, parents need to “factually explain, in age-appropriate language, what the virus is and its impact on children’s health,” he says.
You have to reassure your kids that you are doing everything to keep them safe and healthy, but of course, it is important not to exaggerate that everything is all right so that they will not be complacent.
“Hold frequent family meetings to allow children to voice their fears and to discuss and create family rules and routines for safe practices,” he added.
Tips on how to Provide structure and stability on Home School
Now that the schools were closed to prevent your kids from being infected, they will need you to support the efforts of their teachers in making sure your kids continue learning.
“If a child is staying connected with the public school during their time at home, the parent just needs to follow the school’s plan with regards to lessons and schoolwork,” says Mary Ann Kelley. Kelley is the founder of TheHomeSchoolMom.com, one of the oldest and most popular homeschooling websites.
While it’s a good idea to have some kind of structure in your kid’s daily learning sessions, you can and should adjust it to what works best for your family.
“Active kids may focus best if they are allowed to move while working. Some kids are most engaged when they are listening to music through headphones,” Kelley says.
“She also shared that the optimum study schedule for your child is the one that keeps his or her unique needs engaged.”
Kelley suggests planning work “in short snippets of time,” and occasionally changing the locations in the house “to avoid boredom.”
She also recommends to make sure your kids get some physical activity in to substitute for missed PE classes.
Encourage the kids to go on educational websites
“Many profit-based learning companies are offering their resources for free during this time,” Kelley says.
For example, her website has a still-growing list of 50+ free educational resources that you can use from all over the world. The online resources include free ebooks that serves as tools and ideas to inspire creative play, online science lessons, and even live Facebook broadcasts featuring sharks.
Encourage kids to visit educational websites especially if you worry that you need more help in teaching your kids. For instance, if you were never the greatest math student but want your kids to keep learning what decimals are, the Palo Alto-based company Happy Numbers is currently offering free online lessons for the rest of the year, which includes immediate feedback, so your students won’t lag.
Play Games to with them during quarantine
Playing together as a family is the best way to promote family bonding while stimulating your child’s mind. Dr. Lee Scott, Chairwoman and Educational Advisory Board member at the early childhood development program The Goddard School, shared some tips for what parents should keep in mind when playing games with their kids.
He suggested you pick out appropriate puzzles for your child’s age and try a new one each day”
If you have older children, you can place a jigsaw puzzle on the table and challenge the family to finish it by the end of the day. It is especially motivating if you will give out prizes at dinner.
You can play board games as well. “Dust off the ones you have and get playing. Extend the play by making your version of the game and change the rules,” she says.
Make the game more interesting and challenging by trying out a new version of popular games such I Spy or Charades each day. This allows children to use their imagination and boost brain stimulation.”
Scott also recommends that you challenge your children to create a work of art, or something useful out of materials that can be found inside the house. This will teach them resourcefulness.
Cultivate in them the love of reading
Even though technology has a big impact on how the children learn nowadays, it is still highly recommended that you give your child a book and tell them to read.
Brett Murphy Hunt, a teacher in the MBA program at Assumption College, as well as the CPS English Department at Northeastern University and is the owner of Brett E. Murphy Tutoring & Consulting, in Massachusetts, says that “as a tutor for K-12 students and a college lecturer, the single most widespread issue facing students today is a lack of attention span”.
She added that forced period of social distancing is the perfect opportunity for students to practice a skill that’s woefully lacking: reading. Calm, plain-old reading.
Kids can benefit from all kinds of reading and learning (short stories, graphic novels, magazines, etc.). The quarantine period is a good time for children (and adults) to make a dent in that great big book.
“Whether from a tablet or a physical book, circling back to basics and refining the ability to read something long for a significant period will serve students through college and beyond,” she says.
“It may take a little more patience to set kids up, but it will pay dividends for their education.”
You can try borrowing digital copies of thousands of books with your local library card account. Or you can sign up for a free Hoopla account and check out books to your tablet or e-reader.
Tend to Your Family’s Mental Health
Yes, children are very resilient, but your child may be terrified by the idea of a virus. They might be affected by the fact that someone they they know have already been affected.
If you notice something and you think that they need mental health help, don’t downplay it but instead act immediately.
One excellent resource for families is The Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit organization. It has an army of excellent clinical experts and has been hosting Facebook Live chats with clinicians.
They have several resources for you to use, including how to talk to your children about terrifying news.
Some many therapists and counselors offer sessions via Skype. Psychology Today even has a search engine for discovering the available mental health help in your community. You can use it if you or your family needs one-on-one consultations with an expert.
It takes only a matter of weeks away from school for kids to fall disastrously behind schedule on their learning. However, realistically, it takes probably only a matter of hours away from school for them to affect their parents’ productivity.
In these trying times, you will face a formidable challenge of keeping your kids from bouncing off the walls. Either that, or they will melt into blobs in front of glowing screens, while also avoiding backslide and learning loss.
Don’t worry! You know your kids probably more than anyone, and by using a little imagination; you can do several activities alongside your kids that will facilitate active and engaged learning.