Thursday, March 5, 2020

Ten Things to Do at Home Through a Coronavirus Shutdown

Right now, there are approximately 250 million children in China, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who are homebound for an undetermined time while the coronavirus runs its course.

We hope the current coronavirus (COVID19) does not spread widely through the United States.  But if it does, it is possible that your local school system will shut down for a period until the spread of the disease is under control.  When that happens, parents may find themselves caring for their children at home rather than attending school.

The first thing to realize is that this is not a time to panic or worry that your children will be falling behind.  Kids can learn in many different ways and this is the time to focus on practical application and life skill learning rather than memorizing geography maps or multiplication tables.

This can actually be a time to accelerate your children’s learning and development. Don’t let the time devolve into endless hours of television or video games. Rather, plan out your day with some fun activities that help your children put to use their knowledge and build closer family relationships.
There are some very practical applications from the homeschooling world that can assist parents who are faced with the unexpected task of teaching their children from home for a few days, weeks, or months.

Here are the Top Ten ideas to get you started:

1. Plan your day. Put together a rough schedule and follow it.  This doesn’t mean a schedule that is regulated to the minute with a bell going off telling you to change to a new topic.  Rather set aside time for various activities and follow that routine.  It will help to keep your children from getting bored and you won’t feel that you are a victim reacting to circumstances. Instead you are in control of the circumstances.

2. Read with your kids.  With younger children, read to them. With older children, have them pick a book or story that they read to you.  Our family did this when our children were in the elementary grades.  Everyone had a book and during family time everyone would take turns reading a chapter from their book aloud.  This helped to develop their reading and speaking skills and we often had lively discussion about the story that was being read.

3. Do some craft projects.  Have the children paint pictures, make Lego forts, put together the train set, assemble models, create a doll dress, string together beaded jewelry, or any other crafty, creative projects you can think of.  This helps them with their motor skills and planning skills, and often provides an outlet for creativity.

4. Create a scrapbook. This can be a physical book or a virtual book.  Pull out the old family photos (or download them from your phone).  Let your children organize them into a scrap book or a powerpoint presentation.  Again, this encourages their creativity and development of motor skills or computer skills.  It also is a wonderful time of family fun and fellowship as everyone remembers what was happening at the time of the pictures.

5. Create a movie or video for the grandparents or other relatives.  Let your children decide on their story line for the script.  They can create their costumes.  Then go about filming it.  You might then edit it and add music.  This can occupy them for several days and, once again, it helps them develop creativity and apply many of the skills they have been learning.

6. Play board games or do puzzles. This is a more sedate activity and helps with pattern recognition and teamwork.  Once again, it is a great way to create some family time and relationship building.

7. Create your family tree.  Do genealogical research online and find stories about your ancestors.  Your younger children can draw out the tree while the older children are doing the research.  As you find that Grandfather Robert served in the Navy during WWII, you can look up the history of his ship.  And when you see that Great-Aunt Lucy came to America through Ellis Island in the late 1890s, you can look at emigration at that time and watch YouTube videos of Ellis Island.

8. Binge study a favorite subject. If your child has a favorite subject from school you can set aside time every day to help them do in-depth study.  For example, maybe they like castles. There are some great YouTube videos that talk about old castles, how they were built, and how people lived back then.  This is a time where you let your child decide what topic they want to learn in more depth and then help them to find the material to watch or study.

9. Cook something new. This can also be a time to pull out grandmother’s cookbook and the children and parents working together can make one of her specialty dishes.  Cooking is a good time to bring many of the lessons from school to a practical application.  There is a little bit of science in the chemistry of cooking.  There is math in the mixing of the recipes and measuring out ingredients.  Since it is grandmother’s recipe, we can bring in a bit of history as you talk about the world when grandmother was growing up.  And of course, the best part is you get to eat the results!

10. Do chores! I saved for last one of the best things you can do for passing the time in a productive way and that is chores! Take the time to clean out the toy area, or their room, or vacuum the house, or straighten the garage.  This is work, but it is helpful for the family and builds the idea of planning and working together.

All of these activities and many more can be used to pass the time productively.  But even more important, they give you the opportunity to interact directly with your children, building memories and relationships.  They also give you a chance to help them develop their character and morals as they work together with you and their siblings.

Rather than a season of frustration and boredom, this time at home can become one of the greatest blessings that your family has experienced!