A post for parents who are afraid to be alone with their kids for days. I GET IT. This is for you.
Here are some tricks of the trade with an educational twist:)
Buy large post its. For some reason, they command child respect. Maybe because this is what the teachers use at school so it makes things feel “official.” Use these for big announcements of activities and family goals.
For example, take a new spin on MARCH MADDNESS. Take every board game out of the closet write them down on the large post-it and create a family board game competition. This was a fun way to also use those games that just sit there. Specialize it for your family (like ours had nerf wars). Then next to each game put the winner. The person who wins the most gets a prize (like deciding dinner!). For older kids have them calculate the percent of games each winner won. For little kids have them create a bar graph. And for art they can make the medals!
At the beginning of the hunker (geez that feels long ago), I made activity cards to create structure. Activity cards can be (lego, cooking, the problem of the day (literacy and math), science discoveries, movie, etc). Jacob got to help make the activity cards and in the morning we got to take turns placing the cards to create a day worth of activities. This allowed us to have a “day” instead of sitting around in our PJs and there is something satisfying about checking off things. It makes us cancer moms feel like they have done something.
Have a family reading contest. Make it hard so it takes days. We just started a new one. This one is for 150 minutes. (note the large post-it paper…I wasn’t joking). After DEAR time (which because of Jacob’s age is only 10 minutes most) everyone shares something from their book. YES- this requires you to read too.
A fellow Nightwing opened my eyes to Mystery Science. This has science videos and activities to do, most of which you can do with things around the house. Everyone loves this!
Cooking! Have your kids cook the meals with you. It kills time and will make them better adults.
Finally, do something with all those coins in your house. Have the kids sort them (real little ones- teach them the names of the coins as you go and bigger kids count them), the deal…they get to spend the cash!
TV with a purpose. TV will play a large role…its hard to get around that. You will need down time and time will feel very SLOW. But give the show a purpose. For example. Have a child watch the movie of a book they read to answer the age old question: “Was the book or movie better?” Put on a Planet Earth episode, but challenge with a prompt. “At the end, I want to know what animal of all the ones you saw you would want to be and why.” Record all the factoids they learn on a big post-it next to the TV. (see they come in handy!)
Computer with a purpose. Typing skills are important. There is not enough instructional time at school to teach this properly. There are loads of free typing games online that help kids learn to touch type. Good use of time!
Use technology to create. Create a cooking show and send it to your friends! Create an infomercial on how to hunker. Write a story and act it out. Reenact your favorite StarWars moments. Anything! Let kids play around on iMovie and other creative apps. Editing is a real 21st century skill.
This is a great time to do family trees. Its something that we all should do with our kids, but never have the time. Well…hunkering has LOTS of time. Make a family tree together with old pictures (large post it again comes in handy). For older kids…if you feel comfortable with it, I would let them expand on that with family history through 23 and me or other sites, etc. Let them contact relatives and figure out where they would go on your tree.
And then for those of you that will not have distant learning options as I’ve spoken to a few elementary schools that will not be providing this. I recommend the following:
- This YOU can do. Run a book club with your child. Read a book together and just discuss it.
- Magazines are often looked over by parents. This is a great way to get reluctant readers to read. For example, Benno reads all the boating magazines.
- For little little ones, you can do sound scavenger hunts. “Can you find something that has the “bah” sound?” and you can practice handwriting in the bath with bubbles. “Make a “D” in your bubbles.”
- Jacob oddly likes ABC mouse…its okay, but better than nothing.
- Require that they write reviews for all games that they download or play during this time…trust me lots of downloading will be in your future. But this is fun for kids. They like to be the “experts.”
- For little ones, labels! Have them label the house (you can do this in multiple languages)
- Take all the photos and make a scrapbook where the kids write about/ label pictures
More coming if needed, but that should get everyone started.
Hope this is helpful!