Well, here you are. Your kids are home from school. It’s not summer or even spring break. It’s the middle of the school year, and you have to quarantine due to COVID-19. No school. No public outings.
Your kids are staring at you. They’re waiting for you to entertain them. And all you can do is stare right back at them.
What do you do?
Kids, no matter what their age, need to keep busy. It’s their nature.
Now, let’s be honest. They are out of school—many of them are happy about it. The last thing any kid would want to be doing is a learning activity.
So, we have to be a bit sneaky about it. The good news is learning can take on many different forms.
Below are eight ideas to keep the kiddos—young and old—learning during these long days.
1. Create a schedule
Just as a classroom has a schedule, your home should have one, too, especially when the kids aren’t in school at all.
I know what you’re thinking… “Wait! This isn’t an activity.”
Oh, but it is! It’s simple to make a daily schedule a fun activity for the whole family. Not only can it keep everyone busy for a bit, but it is also very important—especially for any child with special needs, or any child that just likes to be organized and know what is going to happen next.
The schedule your family creates should be visual. This can include pictures or color-coded sticky notes. It should also be flexible. We all know it’s boring doing the same things day after day. Make it easy to switch out activities.
The most essential part of creating a schedule: get the kids involved! Have them draw the pictures. Let them pick the activities they want to do that day. Have them decide which colors go with the activities (for example: art is pink, outdoors is blue, quiet time is green).
Fear seems to be a part of our lives lately for adults and kids alike. Using a daily schedule (or weekly schedule) can help lessen some of the fear or anxiety that your kids may be feeling. In all honesty, it’ll help you, too.
2. Use free online resources
Several educational companies are offering free online resources during this time. Here are some of our favorites:
- Scholastic – Scholastic’s Learn at Home is offering day-by-day learning projects. Projects are cross-curricular (think reading, math, science, social studies all rolled into one). They include stories, videos, and activities for Pre-K through 6+.
- ReadWorks – This site has reading passages by grade level (K-12) and reading level. Each passage has questions about the passage for kids to answer and vocabulary practice. It can also read to them. The best part: ReadWorks is always free!
- Fluency & Fitness – Learning and movement! What could be better? Fluency & Fitness offers a few free videos to see if it’s a good fit for your family. This site is more for the younger kids (K-2). It puts together reading, math and movement. An excellent resource for those rainy days.
- Discovery K12 – This site is for Pre-K through 12th and above. It is free—always. Their curriculum covers subjects from reading/language arts to physical education to personal finance.
3. Outdoor scavenger hunt
Then…set them loose.
See who can find all of the things first. Maybe that kid gets to pick the snack for the day. Or give them fifteen minutes and see who can find the most items on the list. An added bonus—scavenger hunts can be done more than once. Come up with different ways to “win.”
Want to make it more educational? Have them draw and write about what they saw. Maybe they can make a mini-book about their findings to share with the family.
4. Learn from each other
Do you have kids that practice karate, dance ballet, play soccer, or participate in some other sport? Do they like to draw, build computers, write poetry? Do you like to paint, play the piano, garden, or work on cars? Share your passions with each other.
Each day have a different family member teach the rest of the family something new that’s important to them. The only rule: everyone has to participate.
5. Get cooking (or baking)
You’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with what your child is learning in school.
Think: reading, math, following directions. It doesn’t matter what grade they’re in—that’s what they’re learning.
Isn’t that what you do when you cook and bake?
Make preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner a part of your family’s daily schedule. Maybe sit down with the kids each night to put together a menu for the following day. Have them even create a menu – with paper, pencil, descriptions, and pictures.
Now, get to cooking! Have one of the kids read the directions as you go. Maybe have another collect the ingredients. Make sure everyone has a job.
Talk about the math involved. Make sure to follow directions in the correct order. Following directions (or a formula) is math.
6. Build something
Legos. Pillows and blankets. Lincoln Logs (are these still around?). Marshmallows and toothpicks. You can use so many different things around the house to build something.
Have them sketch what they built, and add words to describe their creation.
Bring math into it. Ask how many legos they used? How many red ones? How many blue and yellow ones altogether? If you used twice as many blue legos, how many would you have used?
Build 2-D and 3-D shapes with marshmallows and toothpicks. Talk about how many sides, faces, and vertices the shapes have.
The possibilities are endless.
7. Make a Busy Box
We all need some calm, quiet time in our day. Have everyone put one of their favorite quiet activities into a box. Think of activities such as coloring, reading, doing a puzzle, listening to music. Activities can be changed daily, every other day, weekly. Whatever you choose.
Set aside a quiet time on your daily schedule. Pull your activity out of the busy box and spend time working on it for 20-30 minutes.
Staying away from electronics might be a good idea. There can be a separate time for that on your schedule.
The most important activity…play.
All kids need time to play. To release energy. To give their brain a break.
Go outside. Play a family basketball game in the driveway. Chase butterflies. Play a game of tag.
Stay inside. Play hide-and-go-seek. Make an obstacle course using pillows and toys. Play freeze dance.
The bottom line is—you’ve got kids at home. Some with no school work whatsoever. They need to be kept busy.
They need to keep learning.
But they need to have fun, too.
Use these ideas to help them stay active learners in this challenging time.
You’ve got this.
For more quarantine activities, check out this blog post!
Contact us to learn more!
Natalie Mangrum is the founder and CEO of Maryland Teacher Tutors. She is a reading specialist with a bachelors in elementary education and masters in education. As a parent to two young adults, and prior teacher, Natalie knows all too well the benefits of one-on-one tutoring and coaching for students. Her mission is to ensure that every aspect of MTT is done in a spirit of excellence! She enjoys alleviating the concerns of parents so they can breathe easy knowing their children are in good hands!