So, you suddenly find yourself at home with a kid, or three. First, don't panic. They can sense fear, especially the pre-teens and the teens. Second, take a moment to thank a teacher. Even those teachers that you didn't love are amazing people. They showed up to work every day and wrangled upwards of thirty or more of these little creatures. Now finally, take a deep breath and a moment for yourself. You got this. We are here for you. We are with you. We are stumbling through this jungle right along side of you.
For many of you it's been a while since you have had to direct your children's learning, much less their entire day. If you are a veteran homeschooling parent, feel free to read along and laugh at us non-homeschooling folks. You have been in the weeds a while. For those of us newbies this is a trial by fire. When full day kindergarten started we kissed their little heads and put their real learning into the capable hands of trained professionals. Sure we were around for homework and extracurricular activities, but let's be honest, the vast majority of their day was organized by others. Now it's up to us to organize their entire day and that's not just a little frightening, it's really frightening. The good news is that the professional educators are trying to figure this out. The bad news is that some of the districts are still scrambling to come up with a plan, much less ready to take it live. That's okay, this isn't permanent. You just have to figure out how to survive for a little while.
Okay, onto the fun stuff. Here's a list of 15 ideas (some great, some good, and possibly some terrible) to help keep the sanity at your home. May the force be with you!
1. Get your math on! Free online learning tools like Khan Academy. This site is great for mathematics, but also offers other topics like Arts and Humanties and Science. The learning age range is huge. They have work geared towards little kids all the way to high schoolers.
2. Have a library card? Many libraries offer access to thousands of free ebooks. Just because the libary is closed doesn't mean you can't download a good book to read.
3. Being isolated from your peers can be really lonely for teens and preteens. The kids these days text a lot, but really only chat in person. Encourage them to pick up the phone and actually talk to someone. It's amazing how uplifting a little chat can be.
4. Encourage older teens to try their hands at a free college course. They won't get any credit for the class, but the real benefit is in the knowledge gained. Yale University, for example, offers several Open Yale Courses.
5. Search the telly, or the idiot box as my teen jokingly told me I should call it, for educational programming. There are plenty of educational shows out there. You just need to look for them. Watch a documentary, recorded theater performance, or Shakespeare play screen adaption.
6. Pull out the board games and dust off the puzzles. It's a great time to spend some quality time together.
(Yes, my kids did pull out the Pandemic game to play. Teenagers have a strange sense of humor.)
7. Learn to code. Scratch MIT is great option for younger kids. YouTube is full of tutorials for older kids. If you are looking to buy a course, there are also services like Udemy that offer some interesting class options for not very much money.
8. Find yourself eating at home more than ever before? Now is the perfect time to teach your kids to cook. We know that it's harder and harder to run to the store. Don't let that stop you. Learning to improvise when you cook is a great skill. We like to think of it as Chopped: Quarantine Edition.
9. Teach your kids a skill you haven't taught them yet. With all this free time, teach them all those great life skills that your parents taught you. Practical skills are still important. Think how to do laundry, iron, or sew a button. When they leave the nest they will need these skills.
10. Let your kids teach you a new skill. Your kids are smart and full of knowledge. Let them be your teacher. I have no doubt that they would love to pass on some of their knowledge to you. When they leave the nest you might need this skill.
11. Don't be afraid to email those fantastic teachers you know. I am betting a lot of them would be happy to guide you in the right direction. They may not be able to provide you with a lesson plan, but they can probably share some great online learning websites and tips.
12. Schedule some physical education into the day. Being home and staying mostly indoors doesn't mean you have to be couch patato. Staying active has great physical and mental health benefits.
13. Get out into the garden if you can. If you are lucky enough to have private outdoor space, use it! Sunshine is a great disinfectant and fresh air is beneficial for the soul.
14. Get organized. Being organized doesn't come naturally to everyone. I know it doesnt to me. If it doesn't come easy to you or your kids either, it's a great time to try to grapple those rooms, closets, and drawers.
15. Teach your kids to clean. Cleaning, like organizing and cooking, is an amazing life skill. If you don't already have your kids help out, now is the time. The added benefit is a clean house. Remember many hands make light work when it comes to cleaning.
Bonus: Laugh, laugh, laugh and tell those kids and teens you love them. In the meantime, try to find the joy in your forced bonding experience. Think of it this way, in many locations across the US those teens are now required by law to hang with us terribly uncool parents.
Stay Healthy Everyone!