COVID-19 has made its way to Canada. In Ontario, more and more cases are being confirmed by the day. Many businesses are encouraging people to work from home, and all schools have closed for 3 weeks. Parents staying home with their children are probably all wondering the same thing… How are we going to keep busy while staying at home for 3 weeks!?
Since I’m an elementary school teacher my brain immediately had a million ideas on how you can pass the time with your kids while encouraging learning. Here are my suggestions and some of the things I plan on doing with my girls while we are at home.
Come up with a schedule that works for you and stick with it. Kids thrive on routine and predictability. Establishing a daily routine can really help with managing big emotions and will help the day pass faster.
For preschool kids, the schedule of the day could look something like this:
For school-aged children, you can use the above routine and add a 2nd or 3rd learning block, or you may want to follow the flow of a typical school day. Ask your child what subjects they cover in the morning versus the afternoon and encourage activities that support those subjects. Give your kids unstructured time to play in between activities to give their brains a break.
A good rule of thumb is that “educational time” in one sitting should be no longer than their grade level x 10 minutes. So a child in grade 1 could work for 10 minutes, a child in grade 5 could work for 50 minutes. Younger kids have less concentration time and need more frequent breaks to play, whereas older children can concentrate on a task for a longer period before getting antsy. Of course all kids are different and some kids need more breaks and free time than others.
Learning activities can be anything that encourage literacy or numeracy skills. If you are wondering what kind of learning activities you could be doing with your children, here are some examples.
For preschoolers, there are many simple ways to support math and literacy development. Try writing on a mini whiteboard. Cut out the letters of their name and glue them in the right order. Use alphabet stamps. Play a dice game. Play with tangrams. Check out my Pinterest board with more Preschool Math and Literacy Ideas.
For school aged children, encourage daily reading, writing, and math practice. Ask your child to write a daily journal. Read a book and retell the story (draw pictures, or write key points). Practice addition, subtraction and multiplication. Try a STEM challenge like building a card tower, a raft out of popsicle sticks, or a marble roller coaster.
Many school boards provide students with access to educational accounts. Head to your school board website and look for a student portal. Examples of some educational sites for your kids are Raz Kids (reading), Book Creator, Duolingo (Second language learning), Mathletics, and National Geographic Kids. If your school board does not give access to these, many have free trials you can sign up for.
Scholastic also just came out with a website to support parents with kids at home. Scholastic Learn at Home has books, videos, and supporting activities for each grade level. We will be using the prekindergarten units.
I’m all for encouraging artistic time. You can browse some of the art projects I’ve saved on my Pinterest Board Art Activities for Kids, or spend some time drawing, painting, or playing with playdough.
Here are some of my favorite ideas I’ve done with the girls.
Frozen paintings using a white crayon, watercolours and salt.
Bath paints! You can find my basic recipe in my blog post Easy Bath time Activities for Toddlers.
Since I know you all probably have corks laying around, use them as stamps!
Make slime by mixing school glue, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and a little saline contact lens solution until it solidifies.
Why not great creative with play dough? Check out my Teacher Approved Play Dough Recipe.
I hope these suggestions are helpful to you during this stressful time. Be sure to follow my Pinterest account for more inspiration and Instagram for updates.