We hear stories of extreme innovation and extreme frustration from parents, and therapists who are parents, while they shelter-in-place during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is challenging working from home while their kids are there, too. Kids are adapting to the new norm as their parents scramble to get them set up for home-based learning while logging in with their own virtual work teams. For our therapists, it is extra unwieldy to hold therapy sessions while their kids are at home. We want to help by offering tips to help surge some sanity!
We have put together a list of things that our team thinks can help your superpowers come out during this challenging time.
Create an agenda for the day
Younger children need more structure than older kids, so we suggest creating an agenda every day. While it takes a few minutes of preparation, it’s a key element in organizing your day with the littles. It is best to do it the night before (preferably with a glass of wine).
Start by following the schedule your kids have at school. By now, their teacher(s) have something posted, so that makes it easier. If it’s not included in their “school” schedule, be sure to add art time, “choice” time – an activity of the child’s choice, outside time, lunch break, exercise time, etc. to give them something to look forward to. Avoid scheduling every minute of the day, and don’t fret if they get bored.
“It’s good to provide a type of scaffolding but also give them some free time to work through the process of dealing with being bored and finding something to do,” says Washington State University assistant professor, Elizabeth Weybright in the article, COVID-19 boredom boom brings new parenting challenges. “This helps them build those skills, so that eventually, they can do this for themselves.”
Post the agenda for your kids so they can track their day
Even better than simply writing an agenda on paper, if you have an easel or a board to write it on, put it there so the kids can see the schedule whenever they need. If there are two parents at home, tag team this effort; one of you does the agenda while the other works and take turns.
Kids love and thrive with connection and consistency, so be sure to practice both every day. If kids know they have a schedule, then they stay focused (in most instances). Especially with the littles who are used to being directed, have them go over the schedule with you out loud at the beginning of the day to get on the same page. Use colored markers to make it bright and engaging and make any necessary changes that they recommend to make the day go smoother.
If you don’t have the time or energy to create a schedule, then hop over to Goodhousekeeping.com to check out 15 Daily Schedules for Kids to Keep Everyone on Track.
Create Magical Learning Circles
To help everyone focus, it’s best to establish dedicated workspaces in your home for each adult and child. “Younger children may need more support in the area of executive functioning: task initiation, materials management, predicting how long a task will take to complete, backward planning larger assignments and projects to meet deadlines,” wrote Stacy Glaus in Tips from Teachers: Managing the Move to Distance Learning School-Age Edition.
Our parents have had success creating timed learning stations in the house. Kids moving from station to station feel a sense of progress in their learning and in their day. You can place ropes, or even better, strings of christmas lights, to make a learning circle and then place the activity inside. Add tasks or activities using blocks, books, math games, etc. on the inside of the circle. Set the timer. When the 20 or 30 minute timer goes off, they switch to a new activity until all are completed.
You can also add a board where they get to “check off” the activity when done for even more sense of accomplishment. Rotate this into their agenda two or three times a day and hopefully win a stress free 30 minutes or 60 minutes for your conference call!
Take Breaks Together
Schedule a few breaks throughout the day. Incorporate snacks that they can organize, or yoga stretching outside, if the weather and your yard allows. Give them time to get on their tablets and watch videos or connect with friends, but do it together. Then they will be more ready to switch back to “school” time while having had a break.
Read more about Brain Breaks.
Learn by Doing
Create learning/lessons for the kids that involve home activities, like cooking, cleaning, organizing, or planning that help them do more in less time and feel a sense of accomplishment. Have an awards ceremony at the end of every week over dinner of who accomplished something great that week.
Get Those Kids Moving
Kids need to move and exercise or everyone is miserable! Set up an outdoor or indoor gym if you can for a PE class. Buy a scooter they can use as well as jump ropes and other obstacle course activities that will help them burn energy fast. If you have a ball and a hoop, include ball sports. Ask them for ideas as well as they likely will have all kinds of fun ideas. If more than one child is home, then have them play catch or basketball to work off some energy.
Our new favorite PE Coach is Joe Wicks, famous as The Body Coach. Joe is holding kids’ workout classes on his YouTube channel, weekday at 9am during the school closures.
Have some tips to share?
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