Just yesterday, a friend with three young boys was asking me, her eyes hyper-wide open...
What Am I Going to Do?!!!
Now that so many families are suddenly home--from work and from school as we wait out the spread of the coronavirus, there is the question of how to sanely spend 15 days together with our squirrely kids! We chatted for a few moments, and finally she asked, will you send you a list? So this is for all you Viktorias out there. A quick list to hopefully help you make it through these weeks of not only being at home, but schooling at home as well.
If you include the kids in making a plan for how your days should look, they will more likely abide by what's decided. And maybe even post a few of your decisions on a wall so you can point to them throughout the day to remind them that you decided these things together. From experience, I've learned that routines help keep everyone sane, and that it works to break up the day into big blocks, with tons of play in the middle. Homeschoolers know--you can get an amazing amount of learning done in a pretty short period of time. So maybe something like this?
Get up, have breakfast, and be ready for school at nine.
Turn on some background music. Classical, or acoustic, to keep the mood up. Turn on your diffuser and pump in some oils--lemon, wild orange, peppermint, etc to get the senses brightened. Spread the kids out if they're going to talk, or have them work together if you know they prefer to be in company. It'll take a few days to figure out how it works best in your home. Whatever's been sent home from school--packets, workbooks, whatever--have them do the task that is most difficult for them (whatever requires the most concentration) first thing in the morning.
Snack/water time and then a short dance party. Put on a few favorite songs and dance around the house.
Second block of school work. Depending on the age of your child, this might be 10 minutes or it might be an hour, but have this be your second session of schooling for the day that requires focus. After this it's all play!
Lunch time, play time, hang out time, whatever. A couple of things. Set up a couple of spaces (and talk about this with the kids). A space where they can make a mess and you won't get upset with them, and where everything is cleaned up before dinner. A second space where You want to be, where they shouldn't make a mess, and maybe they're not even allowed in that space? Maybe that's your bedroom, or a corner of the living room. And lastly, a space of their own, where they can be alone and won't be bothered by siblings. Everyone needs a place to retreat to if they're going to be together ALL day long.
Quiet time. The whole house is quiet. Whether that means naps, reading, listening to audio books while drawing, watching shows or documentaries, or playing quietly. The one rule here is not to disturb one another. You can even set a timer and place it somewhere public so they can keep track of when the time ends.
Make sure you're sending your kids outside even if it's freezing, raining, muddy, etc... Even if it's just out on to a balcony, get them outdoors so they can breathe fresh air and get a different viewpoint. Try to loosen up on the dirty floor thing--or the dirty clothes thing--and have a place where they can dump all their wet or soiled clothes. Figure out ways for the kids to be kids and not get in trouble for being outside and rummaging in the yard.
Again, use music. Turn on a fun upbeat song, and have everyone clean up to the music.
You may not have enough schooling ideas for your kids. Perhaps you have a Type A child who wants to keep a school schedule and playing all day makes them grumpy. Here are some projects that you might consider.
Also, use this time to let your kids really fly in those areas where they are strong personally, or academically, and minimize the time they spend working on things that are difficult. These days at home, when there is so much uncertainty, is not a time to challenge your kids and try to have them catch up if they're behind their peers. Let them shine, build confidence in those things they're good at, and know that home is a safe place where they can both learn and play.
Practice handwriting. Look up a fancy font, print it out, and have the child try to copy it
Write a short story, poem, or card
Watch documentaries. There are thousands of them out there, on so many subjects like the youtube channel of Nat Geo Kids
Research an animal, city, or person and have them write (or dictate) ten facts about it
Study a language. Download a language app like Duolingo, or Mango Languages (often times free with your library card) and start to learn French, or Hebrew, or Greek!
Practice handstands, shoot baskets, or engage in other physical or athletic moves that are building hand-eye or body coordination
Khan Academy math (or other subjects) (Every now and again I go and work on 7th grade math!)
Pull out a bunch of materials, paper, tape, toothpicks, etc and ask them to build something specific. A dinosaur, or a house, or flower.
Make bird feeders. Tie a ribbon on one end of a pinecone. Spread peanut butter on the pinecone then roll it in birdseed. Hang it from a tree, They could also go outside and record anything that has to do with bugs, or birds. For example. Chart how many birds they see and hear in a certain amount of time. Bring bird books and look up the species. Hunt around for nests or other signs of bird activity. And check out the Cornell Lab for awesome bird calls and other resources.
Draw a maze or make a crossword puzzle
Origami, or make paper airplanes and then have a flying contest
Learn to tie specific knotsNote: Your public library is an amazing place. Check out all the free books, movies, and documentaries you can download, stream, or borrow...
Once they've finished their school work, do your best to keep screens out of their hands until later in the day, and even then, monitor that they aren't spending hours on them. Just minutes. And think about keeping most toys put away, and pulling out different things each day. Kids tend to play more when there is less clutter, and if you suggest toys by placing them in their way and not having much else to choose from, then I've learned that oftentimes they'll play for a longer period of time, and at a deeper, more imaginative level.
Play dress up!
Pull out the playdough
Coloring books and painting
Blocks and other building materials. Magnatiles, K-nex, Legos, etc...
Train sets. (I used to play for hours with my 3-year-old)
Shadow puppets in a dark room or hallway
Pull out the beading supplies
Give permission for them to dig a hole in a corner of the backyard
Have them compose songs--on the piano, the harmonica, just by singing, and give a concert after dinner
Think about play spaces they have and recommend additions. Make curtains for a play house, build a bug habitat with scrap wood, decorate a fort with a paper chain
Write letters to faraway friends
Board games! Puzzles! Cards!
Bring them into the kitchen to cook and bake with you
Blow bubbles, sidewalk chalk, play with water balloons, jump rope, hop scotch, marbles...
Nerf gun wars
Walkie Talkies are one of my favorite things ever
Consider a paid cleaning list. A whole list of extra chores and what you'd pay to have them done. Cut the hedge, wipe down the baseboards, clean out the car, wash windows, etc...
Facetime with friends or relatives. Since so many of us are being isolated, save some time for connection. Give the kids a time limit, but let them talk with their friends from church, or school, or sports to check in on each other
If you're really struggling and having a grumpy time of it... think about packing your kids into the car and taking a drive. Even if you can't get out of the car, find a place where there is a view, a park, or the beach, or a place that feels serene. Roll down the windows. Turn on some music. Changing your physical space often changes people's spirits, and a breath of fresh air can alter attitudes.
Here are some other links to articles and ideas for you and your kids.
A great list of activities for babies through preschoolers
If you're an Orthodox Christian like we are, then take a look at Orthodox Pebbles, a fun website for kids with lots of downloadable materials. Also, Ancient Faith Radio has a podcast of many audio recordings of children's books that you can download or stream.
Please add ideas in the comments! Peace, love, and good cheer to you all...
Published: March 16, 2020 | Filed under: You