As more and more schools and daycares close their doors, parents are scrambling to make alternative arrangements for their kids. For many, that means staying home and carrying on with school and activities from home—but what exactly are you supposed to do with kids all day? Below, we share three tips for how parents can plan their time to get the most out of their days while children are out of school.
Make your schedule (but be flexible!)
During a time like this, a routine might just be your best friend. If your whole family is going to be working, learning and living under one roof, it’s a good idea to create a schedule together. Sit down with your kids and have them help decide what your days are going to look like. This helps everyone get on the same page about expectations—and can help allay some of the anxiety that comes with navigating a new situation. Here are some helpful examples from other parents who have created a new household schedule with their families. But (and this is a big but!) make sure you’re plenty flexible, especially in the first few days—because change takes time. A quick scan of lockdown tips on Reddit shows that adjusting to a new routine can be tricky, so rolling with the punches is key.
Ramp up remote learning gradually
If your kids are school age, you might suddenly find yourself playing the role of teacher. And, if you’re finding that challenging, you’re definitely not alone—just check out the viral tweet below for confirmation!
If homeschooling is new to you and your kids, make sure to allow for an adjustment period. It’s a different atmosphere and kids may not be easy to keep on task at first. Start slow, maybe with a few hours the first few days—and ramp up from there. And, there are a few great resources that can help you keep your kids’ schooling on track. Free at-home learning resources like Khan Academy Kids are great places to start. And something as simple as keeping them reading can make a difference. Online streaming libraries like Vooks can be great resources if you can’t get out to the library. And, Common Sense Media has a helpful section on their website with online learning resources to supplement your kids’ studies.
Think outside the box for playtime
In a lot of places, meeting up for in-person playdates is not an option right now. So, the onus will fall on parents to entertain the kids on their own—which can feel challenging! But, there is inspiration everywhere you look: one mom built and coded a step counter with her daughter. One dad created an epic special effects video to enjoy with his kid. And if you need a little help drumming up fun activities, Forbes released this helpful list of 101 things to keep your kids occupied while they’re at home. (Who knew you could listen to an astronaut read a storybook from space?)
At the end of the day, this is new territory for most parents. It’s important to cut yourself and your kids some slack as you all adjust to a new normal. If you need to pause study time for an impromptu dance party, do it! If a silly movie every night helps you unwind, go for it! There is no playbook for parenting—and certainly none for parenting during a pandemic, so the best approach is to do whatever helps your family stay happy, healthy and safe.