With so many kids at home for the foreseeable future, Abacus advisor Stacie Rasmussen (former teacher and current homeschool mom) has offered some practical advice and resources to parents on how to survive.
I was an educator for many years before coming to Abacus and have been a homeschool Mom for 10 years. I get it. This is scary and the new normal will take awhile to get used to, but it can be done. Here are a few things that might help:
Listen to your kids. I don’t mean only their words. Their attitudes and energy will tell you a lot about how they are coping and what they need from you. They are used to having the structure of school every day and now they don’t. For some kids, this will be a welcome reprieve. For others, they may still require a structured day. Each kid is different. Work with them on a schedule they feel good about, and that will help you feel better about yours. (Just remember to schedule some personal “Quiet Time” in there as well).
Don’t be afraid to NOT do homework. Each school’s exact requirements will differ, but don’t make yourselves or your kids miserable by trying to do everything. They will still get into Cal (Go Bears)! Don’t worry.
This is an excellent time to just BE with your kids. They are feeling the anxiety we all are feeling, but without the adult words or perspective to properly express it. I recommend lots of hugs and cuddles.
Things to Do
Online and board games teach kids without feeling like you’re working at it. Even just playing with Monopoly money to “buy and sell” things to each other around the house is a great Math and Value lesson. Card games offer lessons in recognition skills and pairing. (Just don’t count on future college savings opportunities from teaching your kids Texas Hold’em.)
Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime all have many great documentaries and nature shows. Turn down the volume and have your kids narrate them, Richard Attenborough style. (Be sure to record these for posterity!)
Create an obstacle course or other physical activities and host your own Olympic Games (it may be the only one we get this year). Especially on rainy days, this is a great way to get some energy out. Can your 4 year-old do more push-ups than you?
Celebrities to the rescue! Celebrities are streaming their talents for us all right now. Coldplay and John Legend are doing mini-concerts. Lizzo is playing the flute and offering guided meditation. Olaf himself, Josh Gad, is reading to kids at night. Yo-Yo Ma is cellin’. The list goes on. Find things you and your kids are interested in and enjoy. Mr. Rogers always said, “Look for the Helpers.” These are our helpers.
Zoos and Museums are closed, but their online tours still provide hundreds of new worlds to explore. This site offers a list of 300 Virtual Tours of Museums and Exhibits. There are also theme park tours as well as art and concerts.
Interesting Live Webcams (PG of course!)
Did you also know there are interactive webcams at cat shelters? Yes! You and your kids can play with the shelter cats online. You can also hangout in the International Space Station. How about the webcam called DRIVE ME INSANE! This one features a live cam inside a home, with interactive components. Your goal is to drive the resident insane by turning on lamps. There’s even a disco ball! Watch wildlife at an African watering hole. Watch live cams at Aquariums. There is one where you can watch grass grow. On some webcams you can see baby owls or eagles hatching. Find the world you love and dive in!
Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime all have many great documentaries and nature shows. Turn down the volume and have your kids narrate them, David Attenborough style. (Be sure to record these for posterity!)
At stories.audible.com, you will find hundreds of Audible titles available completely free with a mix of stories to entertain, engage, and inform young people, ages 0–18.
Kids love making things, and the internet is full of instructions. From DIY creations, to quick and easy crafts, there are tons of resources online on how to use what you have lying around the house to create art!
Virtual Play Dates
Use Google Hangouts to host group play dates and dance parties. Your kids will be missing the interaction they get from their peers. So much can be done online together including card games, those Olympic contests, reading, making up stories, arts and crafts — tap into their imagination and ideas to see where it leads. (Don’t forget about getting grandparents involved in these online activities, because they may need the socialization, too.)
Have your kids write emails to loved ones. More socialization, as well as practice for their writing skills.
There are also many great programs and online instructions (YouTube, Babbel, etc.) for learning new things like knitting, language, piano, guitar, ukulele, etc. Look for what interests you and them.
Mostly just be kind to you and your little ones (and even the medium ones!). Look for ways to turn learning into play and home school will seem much less daunting. Be creative and hang in there!
(And cuddles, of course. Lots and lots of cuddles.)