Keeping your kids busy so you can stay busy
As mandates to close schools and work remotely have swept across the country in an effort to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are realizing the reality of working and studying at home with kids. It can be a challenge. But with a little preparation, it can be more productive, educational and enjoyable for both you and your children.
As all parents know, it’s important to keep children busy in order to keep them out of trouble. This is even more important when it comes to getting any kind of work done on your end, whether it’s conducting a business meeting via video conference or studying for your next exam. You’ll need to have time when your children are engaged so you can focus. As with most things child-related, the more prepared we are, the better the outcome will be.
Here are some tips for how to structure your time and be more prepared for the days, weeks and possibly months ahead when you will need to keep your kids busy so you can stay busy.
Keep Your Kids Learning
Regardless of their age, establish the expectation that the normal school hours will still be devoted to learning. In order to keep them on track academically, consider these tips:
- Take your lead from your child’s teacher: Teachers, schools and school districts are proactively sharing lessons and links to reading, math and writing curriculum. Check your school and district websites for content or email your children’s teachers directly.
- Discover new educational apps: Many education companies are offering free online access for school children during the pandemic. Look for apps that have activities, lessons and assignments in a variety of content areas applicable to your child’s age group. Some apps and activities are even interactive, where teachers post discussion questions and students can post video responses. Others provide parents with daily lesson plans that include activities, primarily for children from pre-K through sixth grade.
- Turn story time into a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) unit: Use a book as a jumping off point for play. For example, read “The Three Little Pigs,” then challenge your child to design a house that the Big Bad Wolf could not destroy. For older kids, empower them to connect their reading with the real world, asking them to take the lead in creating a project that interests them.
- Investigate the COVID-19 pandemic: Teach young children about germs in non-threatening ways, like dipping hands in flour and batting a balloon around to demonstrate germ transmission. For older students, this is an opportunity to explore topics in biology, anatomy, history and math.
- Stay on top of writing skills: Encourage children of all ages to keep a daily journal. Young children can draw pictures, and when you have a break in your schedule, you can write down their explanation of their drawings. Older children can document their experience as they keep busy at home. This can also serve as a therapeutic way for children to express how they feel in a creative way about the events as they unfold.
Don’t forget to give kids time to stretch and exercise, just as they would on a regular school day.
- Take a break from “sitting time”: During indoor learning, stop working and turn on some music to let the kids dance their wiggles out. They can choreograph their own dance, or just move to the music.
- Go outside: While playdates may be out, kids still need to get physical activity throughout the day. Be sure to schedule outdoor “recess” where kids can play outside and get fresh air.
- Break from your routine: You’ll need to build in breaks, too. Why not spend break time together? Go for a bike ride, plant a small backyard garden or take a walk.
These are unprecedented times adding new pressure on families. However, with some planning and preparation, we can help our children remain on track academically and continue to be productive contributors while working from home
These are unprecedented times adding new pressure on families. However, we can help our children remain on track academically and continue to be productive contributors while working at home with some planning and preparation.
— Dr. Pam Roggeman
Dean of the College of Education, University of Phoenix