Written by Honey Covin-Weeks, RN, MSN, PMHCNS-BC, Outpatient Behavioral Health
When our schools suddenly decided that closing was the safest thing to do to fight the spread of COVID-19, not many of us were prepared to be full-time “homeschoolers.” Now that our kids are with us 24/7, we can take this opportunity—and it is an opportunity—to see how our kids learn, spend quality time with them and perhaps even motivate them to embrace new subjects. Below are some tips for navigating this time.
Schedules and Routines
One of the most important things that can help us keep sane is to keep a schedule. This is not like Christmas or Summer Break, where bedtimes can be relaxed for a short period and everyone knows that structure is right around the corner. A consistent bedtime and wake-up time is important. You might be thinking that “when they’re asleep late in the mornings, at least I can get stuff done!” But I urge families to remember that lack of structure can actually be very disorientating to youth and might encourage “acting out.”
Try dividing the day into such blocks, like:
- Morning routine
- Learning time (I understand many local schools will institute some form of online learning soon)
- Chore time
- Exercise time
- Quiet time
- Bedtime routine
Learning Time Tips
I know that some schools are posting material online, and teachers are expecting students to complete “lessons.” But not all schools are prepared to help keep kids learning when they are not in school.
Not a problem! There are multiple learning opportunities in your home! You can brainstorm activities best suited to the grade level of your child. Here are some possibilities:
- Give your child a ruler and let him or her measure items in the room (or the rooms themselves!) to teach them about area vs. perimeter.
- Use money to “play store” in your home, discussing adding, subtraction and fractions. For older kids, look online at the stock market (if you can stomach it) and see how many stocks they could buy for X amount of dollars. Track the changes to help them help them understand fractions and percentages.
- There are also online tours of museums available all over the world. Look and learn about art, geography and history by researching together what was going on the in the world when, and where their favorite pieces were created.
- Delish has live cooking classes for kids every day at 1pm.
Don’t forget physical activity during this time. While parks (but not playgrounds) are still open, congregation should be limited—but if you cannot get to a green space, you can improvise. And I know as a parent and grandparent, that you probably have experience improvising.
A stopwatch can be loads of fun. How fast can your child run to the end of the block and back? How fast can your child run to the end of the block if he or she runs backwards? If you have a few kids, you can have relay races and challenges. Just set some cones or markers out and have your child run from point A to Point B with a marble balanced on a spoon, then hopping on one foot to point C, where they’ll have to name five states and their capitals before finishing the race. Which child can do this the fastest? Can you do it?
These are just a few quick ideas. Be creative, let your kids think of some games, just try to be positive and have fun. This is a stressful time for everybody; but if we can spend quality time with our families and our kids, we can make some memories and maybe even learn a thing or two. Overall, this time may be something we can learn to appreciate.
Talk About It
How do you talk to your child about coronavirus? That all depends on how old they are. Older children may seem the easiest, but helping them understand what is going on may require helping them tell the difference between good and unreliable information online, and learning to think critically about misinformation. It could be a very teachable moment, and can be expanded almost to any topic.
For younger children, the most important thing is to reassure them that you are doing everything you can to keep them and the family safe. You can also review hand washing techniques, and teach them how to cover coughs. And remember, parents: the more anxious you are about our current situation, the more anxious your child will be.
From all of us at Outpatient Behavioral Health, stay safe and healthy.
Learn more about Outpatient Behavioral Health at Artesia General Hospital.