The coronavirus has forced classrooms around the world to be empty. Instead, kids are relying on parents to home school them. As an unapologetic nerd and pediatrician, I’m kinda digging the extra time I get to spend curating my kids’ learning materials. I enjoy it in an amateur occasional hobbyist kind of way. In no way, however, am I qualified to replace the experience and training of the school teachers. They have posted relevant, engaging, and thoughtful modules and assignments online. Those tasks, however, only take up a small chunk of their day. What do I do with my kids the rest of the day?
Creating a routine
In order to maintain some sort of normalcy and sanity for both the kids and the adult caregivers, setting a routine is really important. I have provided a weekly schedule here with loosely defined sections of the day – early morning, late morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, and evening – to help set expectations for the day. During this very uncertain time and disruption to normal activities, it’s important for kids to have some control – knowing what’s expected of them and perhaps having a voice in designing the schedule can help them feel more secure and focused. Checkout a sample daily template below and see the Exclusive Resource Page for more templates.
Fill the day with SCREEN time. That’s right. I said SCREEN time. Look for activities in each of the SCREEN category that the kids can use to fill up their schedule. After they have completed each task, they can have their screen time (with lower cases). SCREEN stands for: Sleep, Create, Reading/WRiting/’Rithmetic, Exercise, Eat healthy, and Neat. Download the SCREEN handout. To get creative, you can put the printout on a magnetic board and have the kids put a magnet over the task once they are done.
Another mnemonic I made up is EARN. The kids have to earn their screen time with EARN tasks. EARN stands for Educational, Active, Rest, and Nutrition. Compare which one fits better for your kids and family. You can find the EARN handout on the Exclusive Resource Page.
Educational websites and apps
There are a dizzying thousand of web-based resources that kids can use to learn. It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole looking for activities and ideas. I have found a few good ones that fit my kids’ needs and stick to them. Every morning during breakfast, I tap into my virtual “stash” of apps and worksheets to prepare supplementary activities for the day. I mix it up with both printable and digital assignments so that they are not looking at a screen all day long. Here are our favorites.
Education.com offers a lot of worksheets as well as digital games for kids aged preschool to 5th grade. They have also put together weekly packets for each grade. There are a certain number of downloads per month that are free. Their monthly rates are very affordable.
Math-aids.com has a very large number of worksheets because each one is custom created with the parameters you set you in place. There are some annoying ads to click through, but that’s the price to pay for the awesome content.
NJTV has one-hour videos from top New Jersey teachers for grades 3 to 6. They cover a wide variety of subjects such as fractions, science experiments, music theory, and history.
Reading Rainbow! Anyone else watch reading rainbow growing up? ME ME ME ME!!! I love that they show kids various topics and interview real people who work in all sorts of jobs. It’s available on Amazon Prime Video.
Duolingo is a free app that teaches many different languages. I have been using this for Spanish a few times a week with my 7 year old and myself.
Khan Academy Kids and Khan Academy are free apps that provide instruction for preschool kids and for students in upper elementary grades and above, respectively.
Home school/work from home survival tips
No doubt the shelter-in directives have an effect on all of us. As parents, we are worried, stressed out, maybe burned out, and probably scared, too. It’s hard to apply positive parenting skills when we as parents are not feeling so positive ourselves. The American Academy of Pediatrics has these ten tips on maintaining positive parenting strategies amidst the crisis and chaos. Also, be kind to yourself. It’s okay to cry in the shower or scream into a pillow. It’s okay if the kids watch TV for 4 hours a day here and there. Check out the self care worksheet on the Exclusive Resource Page and this blog post for emotional wellness resources. Look out soon for a post on activities for video chat games and virtual play dates.
Understanding more about COVID-19
For further assistance on talking to your kids about the COVID-19 pandemic, take a look at the books and videos on this page. It’s been a hard year. See this emotional wellness blog post for additional resources and coping strategies.