If you have been following the news about COVID-19 or coronavirus, you know that the Centers for Disease Control recommend that people be prepared for potentially “significant disruption” to their lives. While the actual health risks remain low, there is a possibility that an outbreak of cases could lead to schools and workplaces in some areas being closed for two weeks or more, health experts say.
Soon after hearing that, I learned that Japan has decided to close schools for all of March to stop the virus from spreading. Now, as a working mom, the thought of being home with my kids for weeks at a time — without trips to museums and play spaces and the library– is a bit intimidating. To say the least. So, I did what I always do when anxiety strikes, and got organized.
I drew up a plan for a kit to put together now in case we are cooped up for several weeks. Most of these things you already have around your house. I included links to several of my favorites.
I also created a schedule that would bring structure to a child’s life during an extended period at home– and that allowed time for me to work from home. If we do actually wind up in a quarantine it could be useful to you, but you might also want to use it if there is a blizzard or other weather conditions that shut down schools for awhile. It might also come in handy for kids that have to miss days or weeks of school due to health conditions.
As any teacher can tell you, children thrive on order and structure. They need a mixture of learning experiences, hands-on activities, exercise and creative play. This schedule will help you bring structure to your childrens’ lives– and help you prevent a situation where the kids watch TV and fight with each other all day.
Your first step is to put together a “School Day at Home” kit, so you won’t be scrambling for these materials when schools are cancelled. Of course, tailor your kit to your children’s interests and grade level. The one I am sharing is for kids in preschool and early elementary school.
A grade appropriate, or more challenging workbook will keep the kids engaged for awhile. We like to use workbooks with a variety of subjects covered in their grade. In a pinch, you could also print workbook pages from the internet, but we prefer the tidiness of a workbook. Also, the kids like going back and seeing their progress.
What books that keep your kids engaged for a long time? You can get a couple of easy readers that they can read on their own, or more advanced books to read aloud . You can search online for activities related to the books or make your own.
Kids learn a lot through games and pretend play. Games can help them practice social skills, reading and math. And they’re fun. Try to include a variety of educational games in your kit. .
Puzzles are great! They help kids develop cognitive skills, fine motor control and build self-esteem.
Science experiments and activities encourage enquiry and critical thinking and helps form independent opinions. There are some great science kits on the market. You could also do simple experiments with vinegar and baking soda or make slime.
I love what the kids can create and learn during some time with STEM toys. Science, technology, engineering and math are such important fields. It’s great to see the kids get engaged in these activities.
If you have two or more kids, a great way to get them all involved and stop antagonizing each other is by creating art. Art enhances their creativity and facilitates bonding.
Music helps the kids to express themselves, and teaches patience and discipline. Get your musical instruments to play and sing along with their favorite songs.
This one is the most challenging one during the winter time, especially if you live in a rowhouse with limited space. What works for us is to play the kids workout version of my mommy workout I do every morning. There are also great videos available on YouTube, such as the Cosmic Kids Yoga channel.
Here’s how to structure your day
Here’s a plan you can use. Don’t forget to take some time to fill your own cup in the morning before you start taking care of your family and working.
Please see below an example of how your day could look like. Adjust some activities to your needs, and change the others from day to day.
6am – Mommy time (workout, shower, get dressed)
6:30 – Prepare a healthy breakfast for the family
7am – Kids get ready
7:30 – House chores
8am – Free play for the kids (mommy answers some emails for work)
8:30 – Reading activities (you read with the kids or they read by themselves)
9am – Math activities
9:30 – Science experiment
10am – Science experiment
10:30 – Puzzle for the kids (mommy works)
11am – Game time
11:30 – Cooking class (aka: make lunch)
12pm – Lunch time
12:30 – Quiet time for the kids (mommy works)
1pm – Free play for the kids (mommy works)
1:30 – Art Project
2pm – Stem play
2:30 – Exercise (follow along from videos on TV, or go for a walk, weather permitting)
3pm – Music/Sing along
3:30 – Snack and Free play for the kids (mommy works)
4pm – Workbook activities
4:30 – Free play for the kids (mommy works)
5pm – Cook dinner
5:30 – Dinner
6pm – Screen time
6:30 – Screen time
7pm – Bathtime
7:30 – Bedtime
Now doesn’t it make you feel better to have a plan? You can edit this to suit your family’s needs, print it out or even write it on a poster board like they have in school. When kids know what is coming next, it helps them feel more in control of a confusing time. And when you know you have a plan, it helps keep anxiety at bay.
Let’s hope we won’t actually need this plan, but, if schools are closed, now you have an idea of what to do. In the meantime, wash your hands, cover your cough or sneeze and stay home if you are feeling ill.
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