It’s one thing to manage your family’s health, safety, well-being as well as that of your parents and in-laws. It’s another thing when you have genuine concern about contracting a life threatening illness. But it’s a whole new ball game when your children are home 24 hours a day and you are in charge of their education, entertainment, on top of their health, too. Welcome to parenting in a pandemic. What’s a parent to do?
When the Coronavirus warnings first came, none of us imagined that we would be working from home and parenting simultaneously. No one dreamt that we would be home schooling our children, maybe until the end of this school year. And here we are.
As you have no doubt uttered yourself, we are living in crazy times! No one has been here before (unless you were alive in 1918, the time of the Spanish Flu), so no one has the magic elixir for getting through.
Keeping your family safe is manageable. Teaching your kids to wash and wash again, making sure they are getting enough sleep and vitamin D are not so hard. But unless you are a teacher (and what parent, even one who is a teacher, thinks it’s easy to teach your children?) picking up where school left off leaves is a challenge.
Below you will find some tips and links I have gathered for helping you to make your new life as teacher-entertainer- mom/dad a little easier.
(Please refer to my previous blog, Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus, https://bit.ly/2xaT3pX if you need help doing so.)
1. Take care of yourself. Much like the oxygen mask theory I often reference, you will be a better parent if you meet your own needs. If you are depleted you will be neither a good enough parent nor teacher. Both you and your parenting partner need to schedule regular time to do the things that replenish you. Whether it’s a workout, a solitary walk around the block, or a half hour reading alone, make time to do it regularly. In addition, your children will learn you’re your modeling the way you take care of yourself. Parents need relief! https://nyti.ms/33Bi0Hy
2. Unload when needed. Make sure there is someone on whom you can dump your fatigue, anger, irritation, and grumpiness. You need a friend who will be your toilet so your children will not be the receptacle nor target of your frustration and exhaustion. Our friends and partners will get it.
3. Don’t blame the kids. Many kids’ ‘worlds have been turned upside down That your kids miss their friends, that they miss their regular school routine (their teachers), that they are bored, that they are tired of being stuck at home, that they are done with this whole new pandemic life is not their fault. More than ever our children need our understanding, empathy, and patience. Remember, they are children and their tolerance is still developing. Be reasonable.
4. Your children need you more than ever. As much as you feel like you are all sick and tired of one another, your (young) children can never get enough of you. Be sure to schedule into your regular days more (not less) family time and individual children’s special time. Have times when you are enjoying life together, whether it is playing a game, acting out plays, having a pillow fight, cooking, or watching a show together. Be together and make it a get-to and not a have-to.
5. Acknowledge and validate your children’s feelings. Instead of feeling that your child is selfish when he is in a crabby mood or unappreciative of all you have done for her/him, help her/him to verbalize how difficult these times are. Let her/him know that you really do understand and you wish you could make it better. Remember, sharing your big feelings with someone else makes those feelings less heavy. Every child likes to know that his/her parents understand.
6. Have a start to your day. Children need a sense of normalcy. As great as it can be to sleep in (teens) or stay in your pajamas all day, those behaviors are for weekends. Your week days need to be differentiated. Start your day the way you would start a school day but without all the hurry ups! Expect that your kids will get up, get dressed, make their beds (!) and have breakfast. Then begin your regular schedule.
7. Schedule your days. Even though you know your daily schedule, your child may not. Take the time and pain to write it out and hang it in the kitchen. Then stick to it. Children do much better having and knowing their schedules as well as your expectations of them. Isn’t that a big part of school? Make sure your schedule includes:
- Work time (academics)
- Outside time
- Snack time
- Quiet time
- Creative time
- Free time
- And yes, screen time
7. Relax your screen rules. While you may have had strict rules about screen usage, during these challenging times it really is okay to bend. A daily screen time puts joy and something to which to look forward in most kids’ lives. But be clear about exactly when it will be each day, however. Build it into your schedule. It is probably a good time to have screen time when YOU need some time off.
8. Your schedule can change. If the schedule isn’t working, change it! If your children are away from school for as long as they are saying, it will be a good idea to switch it up after a month. Change is good.
9. Have family meetings. Get together—ALL of you—and discuss how things are going. Let your children talk about what they are and are not liking. Discuss the changes you might implement. Involving your children in creating your program goes a long way in getting their cooperation.
10. Consider having a choice day. Allow your children to each have a turn to choose an activity or game in which the family will participate. When a child feels he has voice and a choice and some power there will be more harmony.
11. What went right. Be sure to catch your children doing the right things. You can use all the same gimmicks that teachers use in school—charts, bean jars, stickers, etc… They work for a reason. Children actually like to do the right thing and get attention for it.
With all of the above in mind, here is a treasure trove of idea and links with which to plan your new (and temporary) life with your children at home.
IDEAS AND LINKS
1.Cook with your kids. https://wapo.st/2U0Eka5 Here are some fun recipes to make with your children.
2. Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems. https://bit.ly/2TYZkhz Mo Willems is the fabulous children’s book author (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus). Just bring some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons, Just bring some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons to Lunch Doodles with Mo weekdays at 1pm EST/10am PST. Kids of all ages and adults will love his videos about doodling. And they are interactive.
3. Parents’ Favorite At-Home Activities to Help Bored Kids. https://bit.ly/3a1mcCB
4. Resources for Families During the Corona Pandemic from Common Sense Media. https://bit.ly/2TZUSPy
5. Free Subscriptions from Education Companies (due to school closure.) https://bit.ly/2WruGPI
6. PJ Library Resources for Families Stuck at Home. https://bit.ly/3b60ddY
7. PBS Kids – https://pbskids.org/
Great videos and games for preschool through grade 3 from one of the most trusted sources in early learning and fully accessible to all
8. Show your kids why washing your hands works! https://bit.ly/391oRLh Kind of a scient experiments for young kids.
9. 12 World-Class Museums You Can Visit Online. https://bit.ly/2UjVGh7
10. A bevy of At-Home Educational Online Activities for Students and Parents put out by Smart Social. Some of these are live streams! https://bit.ly/3dhc7no
Arcademic – https://www.arcademics.com/
Arcade-like games that teach a variety of subjects for grades 1-6.
BrainPOP – https://www.brainpop.com/
Highly recommended – K-8 and ELL online resource for learning almost every subject. Courses include videos, games, quizzes, vocab, and related reading.
Education.com – https://www.education.com/
Preschool through 5th grade activities and lessons. Skills based and syncs with standard school year calendar.
IXL – https://www.ixl.com/
Skills-based, adaptive, personalized learning for PreK-12 in math, language arts, science, social studies, and Spanish.
Khan Academy – https://www.khanacademy.org/
Highly recommended – Created by experts, Khan Academy’s library of trusted, standards-aligned practice and lessons covers math K-12 through early college, grammar, science, history, AP®, SAT®, and more. Students practice at their own pace, first filling in gaps in their understanding and then accelerating their learning. Free.
Doug – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPRCRM3JKm3sw55lB_427qg
Short (~5min) videos that investigate and explore questions asked by real students.
Outschool – https://outschool.com/
Highly recommended – Live Online Classes for Ages 3-18. Small group video chat classes—created and taught by inspiring teachers. Variable cost starting at $5/class.
PBS Learning Media – https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/
Standards aligned videos, interactive lesson plans, and more for just about every subject. Early learning through high school. Free.
Teachers Pay Teachers – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/
Over 3 million free and paid resources, created by educators, on the full spectrum of subjects and grade levels. Search for curriculum or activities to do at home.
The Art Sherpa – https://www.youtube.com/user/HoneyBmama
Live to stream and previously recorded videos that teach a variety of painting techniques and projects.
Art with Everyone – https://www.patreon.com/AWEStudio
Drawing and painting tutorials for all ages and skill levels.
Art with Everyone – https://www.patreon.com/AWEStudio
Drawing and painting tutorials for all ages and skill levels.
Smithsonian Art & Design – https://www.si.edu/explore/art
iCivics – https://www.icivics.org/
Founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor – students learn how government works by experiencing it. They step into the role of a judge, a member of Congress, a community activist, even the President of the United States – and do the job they do. Students gain civic knowledge and skills through this fun and challenging online platform.
Coding & Computer Science
Code.org – https://code.org/
Online learning platform to teach K-12 students coding and computer science. Used by schools and districts worldwide, with a focus on increasing participation by women and underrepresented youth. Makers of the Hour of Code: https://hourofcode.com/us
Scratch – https://scratch.mit.edu/
Free, online coding platform developed by MIT Media Lab for children using intuitive drag and drop visual interface that teaches coding basics. Kids can program their own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share their creations with others in the online community.
The Stock Market Game – https://www.stockmarketgame.org/
An online simulation of the global capital markets that engages students grades 4-12 in the world of economics, investing and personal finance.
Night Zoo Keeper – https://www.nightzookeeper.com/
Online writing tool and library of interactive lessons. Fun, engaging games that increase vocabulary and improve spelling. Puzzles and challenges that develop grammar and structure skills. Inspiring prompts and story creation lessons that spark imaginations.
Reading Eggs – https://readingeggs.com/
Learn to read with online games and activities.
Starfall – https://www.starfall.com/
K-3 reading and educational games platform. Stories, songs, and other activities.
Story Pirates – https://www.storypirates.com/
Podcast of stories by children and story writing inspiration.
Teach Your Monster to Read – https://www.teachyourmonstertoread.com/
Even if you know how to read – you should visit this site. Teach Your Monster to Read is a fun, adventure-based game that teaches phonics and reading along the way. Help your monster rescue a friend from the goblin king as you travel through the galaxy. So fun you will want to learn to read all over again!
Beast Academy – https://beastacademy.com/
Online math and problem solving for ages 8-13. Fun, comic-book style format.
Dragonbox – https://dragonbox.com/
Math apps developed by educational experts, dedicated teachers, game developers, designers, cognitive scientists, writers and artists who are passionate about creating innovative and engaging game based learning tools.
Dreambox – https://www.dreambox.com/
Adaptive, online K-8 math program that is personalized and standards aligned.
Global Math Project – http://www.jamestanton.com/
Join students from around the world on a global math project (Exploding Dots) that is mathematical story that starts at the very beginning of mathematics, assuming nothing, and swiftly takes you on a “wondrous journey” through grade school arithmetic, high-school polynomials algebra, infinite sums, and advanced mathematics and unsolved research problems baffling mathematicians still to this day. Ages 10+. Free.
Prodigy Math – https://www.prodigygame.com/
Engaging, curriculum-aligned math platform for grades 1-8. Game-based, adaptive, and personalized. Free.
Science & Technology
General & Multi-Discipline Science
The Science Guys –https://www.youtube.com/user/TheSciGuys
Educational science videos that can be done at home and for all ages. We explain all concepts and experiments using fun animations.
Science Max – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbprhISv-0ReKPPyhf7-Dtw
YouTube series that explores common science experiments kids do at home and “turbocharges” them.
Biology – http://www.biology4kids.com/
Cell structure and function, microorganisms, plants, animals and animal systems.
Chemistry 4 Kids – http://www.chem4kids.com/
Matter, atoms, periodic table, elements, reactions, biochemistry.
Minecraft Chemistry – https://education.minecraft.net/chemistry/
Discover the building blocks of matter, combine elements into useful compounds and Minecraft items, and conduct amazing experiments with new lessons and a downloadable world.
Tyler DeWitt – https://www.tdwscience.com/
Research scientist and educator who creates chemistry and micro-biology videos shared on his personal site and YouTube.
Teach Engineering – https://www.teachengineering.org/
Digital library comprised of standards-aligned engineering curricula for K-12 educators to make applied science and math come alive through engineering design.
Geography – http://www.geography4kids.com/
Earth energy and structure, atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, climates, and more.
Physics 4 Kids – http://www.physics4kids.com/
Motion, heat & thermodynamics, electricity & magnetism, light, modern physics.
Social & Ethnic Studies
Native History & Culture
Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State
The Duwamish Tribe
Just for fun. From the Washington Post, check out what happens when the penguins go for a tour of the Chicago Aquarium. https://wapo.st/3denpIG