With schools, learning centers, and even day-cares now closed in most states because of the Coronavirus and the length of those closures looking increasingly long each day, millions of parents find themselves in a tricky predicament of having to balance both full-time jobs and full-time parenting. In many districts, students are beginning to take online learning programs to keep them on track, but in many other cases, students are learning from their parents, who have become unofficial teachers and are forced to launch stay-at-home schools for their children.
This new normal within our society now can cause several issues. For instance, for parents and caregivers of young children who can’t learn online, have shorter attention spans and need much more attention, this new idea of creating at home learning programs may seem rather daunting where one doesn't know where to even start. If you are in need of tips and a little encouragement during these times, we gathered some research and advice from experts that may help parents navigate the next few weeks with their young children:
Create A Routine Schedule
Before anything else, the most significant piece of advice we want to give is to make sure your child feels safe and secure during this time - to make sure that they do not feel the anxiety and stress that maybe you or other people are feeling. It is best to make sure they remain calm and occupied, as if they get upset, it can potentially only upset you more. With this being said, during this time, while many parents are trying to find resources for homeschooling, we believe that it is essential for parents to take the pressure off themselves. This can be done by providing an environment that may not follow the "traditional academic" experience for young children. In fact, according to Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, he believes that it is okay — even right — just to let kids play by themselves and navigate the environment in there own way. Golin also says and believes that the first few days at home are important because you can set up a routine not centered around screens.
During this time, experts believe that setting and sticking to a regular schedule is key, even when you're all at home all day. Kids should get up, eat, and go to bed at their standard times as consistency and structure are calming during times of stress. Kids, especially younger ones or those who are anxious, benefit from knowing what's going to happen and when. They can help you plan out their days, having the morning and afternoon more structured with the rest of the day open and more relaxed.
Consider creating a schedule that can mimic a school or day camp schedule, changing activities at predictable intervals, and alternating periods of study and play. Think of it as a check-list, making sure that you keep your child's goals aligned. Now, however, that it is okay if you do not get through everything on the list or get overwhelmed. Your children may get through things quicker or slower than you expected - do not stress about it.
Get Creative With New Activities or Games
When it comes to finding things to do with your children during the pandemic, incorporating new activities into their routine, like doing a puzzle or having family game time in the evening can be a fun way to keep them occupied during these times. For example, build in activities that help everyone get some exercise (without contact with other kids or things touched by other kids, like playground equipment). You can set up a time in the day to take a daily family walk or bike ride. Or you and your little yogi can get in some time to do yoga - which is a great way to let kids burn off energy and make sure everyone is staying active.
From an expert, David Anderson, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, believes that parents should begin to think about what games they loved to play when they were kids and introduce them back to their children. For example, he has been asking parents to think about their favorite activities at summer camp or home before screens. In doing so, they often then generate lists of arts and crafts activities, science projects, imaginary games, musical activities, board games, or even household projects to keep everyone occupied.
Get The Community Involved
We know this might sound weird, but you can remain communal and socially active even in times of quarantine and social distancing. Just because you have to stay inside doesn't mean you still cannot interact with your community. There are multiple ways to get your community involved, and together during this time for your children. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:
- School Spirit Days Online - Many schools have community pages or even Facebook groups that are helping everyone stay connected during these times. Many parents are trying to keep school events alive through virtual means, such as having virtual Spirit Days. For these, dress your child according to each day's rules. For example, if they were asked to wear pajamas, dress them in pajamas and take a picture. Set up an album or comment section on the page to post your photos for the day to share with the community as well. You can also get your friends or your children's friends involved.
- Neighborhood Scavenger Hunts - Many people have created ways to make a neighborhood scavenger hunt for children, in which, for example, a household can hide something on their windows that kids can find during throughout the week. To start, get your friends and neighbors involved and decide the item in which to hide - this can be themed, such as hiding a shamrock for Saint Patrick's Day or even flowers for Spring. Then, everyone hides the item somewhere on a window that is visible from the street. Lastly, during the week, have your child try to find as many of the items as they can. You can either do this by taking them for a walk or a drive around the neighborhood. Whoever has found the most items at the end of the week wins a prize.
- Stay In Touch Virtually - Let kids use social media (within reason) and Skype or FaceTime to stay connected to peers even if they aren't usually allowed to do so, as communication can help kids feel less alone and mitigate some of the stress that comes from being away from friends. You can set up weekly sessions with your child's friends, where maybe they do a virtual movie night or even a virtual reading session where each parent takes turns reading to your child and their peers.
While these times may be tough, there are many different ways to keep you and your children occupied during these times. These are just a few examples of the many possibilities at hand! Share with us your favorite activity to do with your children during these times by following us on Instagram @itouchwearables and Facebook @itouchwearables and by dropping a comment and like. Check out new blog posts published daily!