With the recent school closures and recommended “social distancing” as a way to prevent rapid spreading of the Corona Virus (COVID-19), many parents are left wondering what to do with their kids over the next few weeks to fill up all of the extra time.
My children are ages 8, 7, 5, 3, and 22 months, so finding a way to entertain them all, and also prevent any unnecessary chaos from ensuing, can be a bit of a challenge. So trust me when I say, I get it.
So I have compiled a list of things you can do to help keep some structure in your home, while also providing entertainment and learning while we all wait things out with the corona virus.
Children thrive on structure and schedules. While it would be easy to let things like bedtimes and wakeup times slip through the cracks, it is important to keep them enforced even during the school closures. This will make it so that as soon as we are given the clear to send our children back to school, there won’t be a drastic adjustment period with their sleep schedules. Because we all know how miserable that can be!
Also, setting aside specific time to work on any school work they have been given is essential to making things run more smoothly. Let’s face it, nothing will be normal while all of this corona virus stuff is happening, but if you can make and keep to a schedule for some of the most important things (school work, piano practice, etc), it will help keep everyone more calm and make all of these adjustments more smooth.
For us, the closures took place so suddenly, that the schools were not fully prepared for offering online education right away. This means we have a few days before our children will be given any school instructions. As a result, I am taking advantage of the many online education subscriptions that are offering their services for free during this time to help alleviate some of the burdens on parents and the school systems. I was particularly pleased to see that ABC Mouse was one of them. My kids have been asking if we can get it, and this is a great way to try it out without any kind of financial commitment. You can get a more comprehensive list of FREE education subscription services HERE.
This is also a great time to take advantage of spending more quality time with your children. With all of the precautions taking place because of the Corona Virus, the best thing we can do is turn them to our advantage. I don’t know about you, but I often feel like we are running from one thing to another. Between school, dance, piano, etc., our schedule doesn’t warrant much time to just relax. But with all of the sudden cancelations, we now find our schedule free and clear of obligations, and thus allowing us to take advantage of just spending some good quality time together as a family, without interruption.
If you find you are unsure of how to use this new found free time, here is a list of ideas that I will be implementing over the next few weeks with my own kiddos:
- Take time to read books together. For the younger children, go through a pile of picture books. For the older children, select a chapter book that you can read together, and then take turns reading each paragraph or chapter to help them improve their reading skills.
- Do an art project. Pull out any paper, markers, paints, tape, scissors, glue, etc that you have and just go to town. Be creative. Make puppets with brown paper sacks, masks with paper plates, or create a leprechaun trap for St. Patrick’s Day. Just be creative and make it fun! Kids love to be creative and especially when their parents are directly involved.
- Look up recipes for slime or play-doh on the internet and make them with your kiddos, and then let them play with them afterwards.
- Make a treat or dessert. My kids love nothing more than helping me in the kitchen. And you can even take it to the next level by making a treat that they can decorate afterwards, like cookies or cupcakes.
- Have a family movie night. Pull out the blankets, pillows, and popcorn and make it family affair!
- Make a fort or reading cave. The kids will love it, and it will encourage them to do some more reading on their own!
- Take any blocks, legos, magnets or other building materials you have, and help them build a fun tower. Some of our favorite magnets to use are these ones HERE! My kids absolutely love them!
- Teach your kids a new skill. Whether it is crocheting, cooking, chess, or mancala. Just find something you know how to do, and that you think they would enjoy too, and teach them how to do it! This will allow you to bond with your child as you teach them this new skill.
- Play games. Take the time to pull out any board games, card games and puzzles you have and then do them together. If you don’t have any games, don’t let that stop you! Play charades!
- Go on a walk! While we have been advised to socially distance ourselves during the corona virus outbreak, this doesn’t mean you have to be locked up in your house all day. So if the weather permits, go outside and get some fresh air. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or just sit outside and enjoy the sunshine!
- Go for a ride. Pack everyone in the car and go for a ride. Go somewhere new with a pretty view! Play some car games, sing some songs, or just enjoy some fun conversations.
- Have a dance party! Turn up the music and let everyone dance their hearts out! This is a great way to release any pent up energy and get in some exercise too!
I hope you find these ideas helpful! While I know the state of the world is scary right now, I truly believe the best thing we can do is remain calm and do our best to make the most of our situations. And while being quarantined is no one’s idea of fun, being able to really focus on and build-up our relationships with our children, will be a postive side effect, and one I am happy to embrace.