7 tips for Thriving with Kids at Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic
With school being cancelled all over the US, parents are struggling to figure out how to best help their children. As you navigate this unprecedented situation, here are 7 tips that will help you thrive in your new normal.
1. Don’t Panic
In the long run, our kids won’t remember necessarily the facts we taught them but they will remember how they felt during this time. Don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself. This isn’t normal. It would be better for us to accomplish less and make this a positive experience.
2. Let Go of the Guilt
We aren’t experiencing life as normal. In fact, this isn’t normal homeschooling. We are in a national crisis and it’s not going to look perfect. It’s ok if your child is watching more tv than you’d hoped or you lose your cool sometimes. Go easy on yourself. Let’s get through this!
3. There’s no wrong way to do this
Some parents will choose to do a full day of school at home, while others will choose to treat it more like a summer break. For some, keeping up with the school work being sent home will be easy, but for others, especially those who are still working or who’s children require extra supports, it won’t. Do what works for your family and what you feel is best for your child. Don’t try to force something that isn’t working.
Do What Works for Your Family
4. Don’t do Regular School (or regular homeschool)
If you do choose to try to homeschool your child, remember that you don’t have to do a school all day. You can typically get done in a few hours what it takes all day to do in a regular classroom. This is an unprecedented time, and with all the change and possible anxiety, its ok to lighten the load a bit.
5. Get up and Move!
Try to get kids up and moving throughout the day. Especially for kids who’ve experienced trauma or who have sensory issues, the best thing you could do for them is to get them active. Throw on some music and have a dance party in the middle of the day.
6. Don’t be afraid of play
Consider places like Finland, where children don’t attend school until they’re seven years old and the schools incorporate lots of play into their day. Play actually does help kids learn.
According to the late Karyn Purvis, author of The Connected Child, “Scientist have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create new synapse in the brain – unless it is done with play, in which case, it takes between 10 and 20 repetitions.”
Maybe you can teach your child numbers by playing Go Fish or fractions by baking cookies. Put together puzzles. Make some memories.
7. Most Children Need Structure
My older children would fall apart without a lot of structure when they were younger. I hated schedules but, for them, they did better in the summer when I would plan out their time in thirty-minute increments and post a schedule. A schedule may help those children who can’t self-entertain or struggle with time management. Here is a schedule idea from BIAS Behavioral:
You can also work with your child to come up with a schedule. This can create buy-in for the schedule. If you are parenting a child who struggles to do anything without you, this may be a good time to help them understand that a family makes sure that everyone’s needs are met, not just one person’s. Talk with your child about things that you need to accomplish throughout the day and work on your schedule together. You can even use a timer to indicate when you will be working on something that doesn’t include them and then a timer for how long you will play a game with them. Giving them a time-frame for when you will be working versus helping them can communicate that their needs are important and help them develop patience.
If you have a child who really struggles doing anything without you but you need to get something done, consider getting them started on a game near where you are working. Have your children take turns moving your game piece for you. That way, they feel like you’re still involved even though you are getting other things accomplished.
If you keep these key points in mind, you will be able not just to survive this challenging time but thrive. Also, consider joining us for our weekly, online support group for a supportive community and more tips.
Jennie & Lynn Owens
Jennie is a foster parent trainer and Author of the book Dancing with a Porcupine. Lynn is counselor, founder and co-owner of Canyon Lakes Family Counseling. Together they have parented over 100 kids including the 4 they adopted.
We record a portion of the large group time so that ideas shared there can be available to everyone even if they couldn’t make it to the meeting.
Jennie & Lynn Owens interview parents from around the world who share their top tips for making the most of staying at home with their kids during the COVID-19 pandemic
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