Suddenly Homeschooling: Survival Guide for Parents | The FitFilled Life

If you are reading this during the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020, then you are likely full of anxious feelings right about now. At the very least, you’re probably worrying that your children or other family members may have been exposed to a potentially deadly virus. Maybe you’ve caught what you think is a little cold or a stomach bug… but you’re not quite sure, and that’s creating some uncomfortable feelings.

Even if you’re not fully convinced that Coronavirus is an extremely serious concern, at the very least you’re trapped in your home for most of the day, all day, every day. And if you have kids, then you’re been tasked with the seemingly impossible. Out of nowhere, you’re expected to become a stand-in school teacher.

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Of course, not only is the sudden responsibility of having to teach your children from home bearing down upon you, but you also likely have been sent home from your actual job indefinitely. You may have been laid off, or perhaps your pay was suspended. Another possibility is that you own your own business, either at a physical location, or in the form of an ecommerce or service based website. This puts some pretty serious pressure on to suddenly morph into a “do and be everything” type of miracle working human.

Being home with your restless children, waiting for the next terrifying news update, wondering how you’ll manage to keep your pantry stocked with fresh food and toilet paper without exposing your family to deadly germs, and trying to keep your house as clean as possible to avoid viral contamination, have likely taken their toll on your mental health.

The bad news is that the virtual classroom that has spontaneously taken shape under the direction of your child or children’s teacher, who is also scared and fumbling her way around unfamiliar ground, appears to be the way of life for the majority of us for the next who-knows-how-long.

Even worse, there are reports that as Coronavirus remains a growing threat to our health, we may be forced to make our role as home schooling parents the norm through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

This post includes:

  1. Tips for Supporting Your Child’s Teacher During Virtual School Sessions
  2. Set Up Your Home School Scenario for Success: Organize Space
  3. Routine is Everything When Teaching Kids at Home
  4. E-Learning is Great, But Make Time for Breaks
  5. Virtual School is in Session: Make Yours a Crash Course in Life Skills Too
  6. Combine Learning and Play in Your Home School Day
  7. 4 Great Projects for Home School Kids to Try
  8. Balance Tech Based Teaching with Real Life Instructions
  9. How to Cope with Waning Attention Spans While Teaching Kids at Home
  10. Home School Success for Kids With Learning Challenges
  11. Tech Must Haves to Ensure Kids’ Safety Online while Virtual Learning
  12. Creative Ways to Connect with Other Kids While Learning Virtually
  13. Virtual School Life Skills Challenge Checklist
  14. Connecting Meaningfully, Yet Keeping Social Distance

Tips for Supporting Your Child’s Teacher During Virtual School Sessions

With the entire planet on edge as a result of the recent Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent orders to remain at home, you may be wondering how to suddenly morph into a home school mom success story of the year. The truth of the matter is that being thrown into a home schooling situation is going to take more than a little bit of adjustment.

First, just because you may have a good recollection of academia and excelled at school as a child yourself, does not mean that you have the patience or wherewithal to begin teaching your kids from home and doing an exceptional job at it.

Even if you feel like your teaching skills can use a bit of finessing, it’s certainly possible to pick up some pointers and tips from education experts, child psychologists, home schooling experts, and anyone who has experience in this area.

Here are some tips for easing into the role of home schooling parent so you can help your children make the transition to virtual learning.

Establish a set schedule and stick with it.

Some parents and kids might be thinking that with school being out for several weeks at minimum and a good chance of it not being back in session for the remainder of the year, summer vacation’s “no routine is a good routine” can go into effect. This is possibly the worst thing you can do for your children, your family, and most of all, your sanity. Without structure and order in their daily lives, your kids (and you) can quickly become mentally restless, emotionally unhinged, and set on a path to avoidance and procrastination — also endless anxiety and family fights. Your job as a school teacher in training then becomes a slippery slope situation.

Setting and sticking to a daily school-at-home schedule is one of the best things you can do for your children. The traditional school day as we know it breaks up into various segments and a variety of activities for kids to rotate through as the week proceeds. Starting the day at a reasonable morning hour gives your child a head-start on school work with time for physical activity, cultivating interests, screen time, and imaginative play for the rest of their waking hours. This ensures a good balance of activities to exercise different parts of the brain and engage both the mind and body.

Check in frequently with teachers.

At minimum, parents should be logging on at least once in the morning to get the heads up from their child or children’s teacher(s). It will be helpful to know what type and quantity of work your child will be expected to complete and what the timeline may be for various assignments and projects. How often you engage in addition to the daily check-in might depend on the type(s) of students you’re instructing as well as the personality and preference of your children’s actual school teachers who are teaching them remotely.

In addition to being on top of your child’s school work agenda, you might also want to keep in touch with the teacher just to offer some moral support. Many school teachers are making the shift into virtual learning for the first time. They may be struggling at home just as you are, trying to balance family life with keeping on top of their professional priorities, which is to continue educating our kids despite this sudden and strikingly different change in format. Some teachers may even feel self conscious about talking and been seen on video, or having the added pressure of working the technology while simultaneously instructing the children.

Don’t leave out “specials”.

Traditional school as we have known it for many generations has been much more than just academia, and perhaps we take that for granted. Children are provided with opportunities to develop their talents, express themselves creatively, and cultivate a life survival skill set that may one day help them become self sufficient or pave the way to a thriving career or business. Music, art, gym and computer class all help your child develop into a well rounded individual. Home economy and wood working supply needed life skills.

If you’re picking up where your child’s teacher left off with the recent stay-home order from world health officials, then make sure to include a good variety of subjects in addition to the expected reading, math, science and social studies. Singing and dancing to music, exploring music from different genres, engaging in arts and crafts projects, and even hosting at-home gym class can all be included in the daily activities that your children can look forward to during their home-bound school day.

Abide by the teacher’s remote schedule.

Your child’s teacher may decide to host a morning meeting, or do a bi-weekly check-in. She might request that the children log on and test out the chosen tech tools before a particular meeting or lesson is held on a certain platform. Many teachers are asking their students to arrive at their virtual meetings with prepared materials to go over and review. And they are also hosting fun and engaging activities to help kids maintain a positive attitude about their education.

Attend to your children’s details.

The level of attention that school children may be receiving might vary depending on each teacher and unique situation during this trying time. After a tough school year where children were forced to work from home, your child’s teacher could end up being extra sympathetic during extenuating circumstances. Even though she might be inclined to give your child a good grade based on effort alone, you’ll want to stay on top of kids to be sure they’re attending to the important details of doing a good job.

Have kids proofread their work several times before handing in assignments. If your children’s tests are returned with corrections made by the teacher, go over where they may have made errors and try to help them understand why the mistake happened and how they might avoid making the same error next time.

 

Organize Your Home School Space for Success

One tricky aspect of suddenly turning your home into a makeshift learning environment for at-home schooling is that the space may not be conducive to this type of learning. You likely have central areas of the home with people coming and going throughout the day. Family members may be engaging in disruptive activities such as having out-loud phone conversations or watching movies and online videos. Parents are likely anxious to hear the most recent news updates in the ongoing emergency situation, keeping the television news stations blaring for a good part of the day.

Another difficult aspect of teaching at home is that kids may be surrounded by temptation that prevents them from focusing. If your at-home students make a habit of doing schoolwork and studying in their rooms, this may seem ideal as they’re quiet, out of your way, and presumably focusing on their studies. However, in their bedrooms they may be surrounded by temptation such as easy access to online games, messenger programs and other distractions.

Still yet another challenge that home schooling parents may face is that your kids might spend most of their day goofing around and playing with each other rather than attending to their studies. For this reason, many teachers are now conducting morning meetings in the hope of setting a serious and studious tone for the rest of their students’ day.

Here are some tips for transforming your home into a healthy and productive learning environment:

Turn extra space into a classroom. If you’ve got available room in your home, transform that space into a temporary learning environment. You can set up a folding table and chairs in a central location such as a finished basement or downstairs den of your split-level home. If you don’t have space to spare, consider making each child’s room into a classroom, by moving a computer desk and or creative work space there.

Relocate gaming and entertainment systems. If tech-based forms of entertainment prove to be an ongoing distraction for your family, one way to better manage this is by creating a central location where family members can gather during relaxation and “play” time. During weekday mornings and afternoons when “home school” is in session, you can have kids go to their learning area either in their room or in a makeshift “classroom” area of your home.

Don’t forget gym class. Your at-home exercise room can become the daily place to help kids work off stress and anxiety while helping them build strength and exercise their muscles. If you have an area of your home where you store a few pieces of exercise equipment such as an exercise bike, stair master or elliptical machine, now is the time to dust those off and get your kids utilizing the machines for their own level of fitness and for the sanity of all. Another option is to gather up all of your existing sports equipment such as bikes, balls, bats, skateboards, basketball hoops, etc. and have your kids pick the sport of their choosing to play outside at a specific time of day and for a minimum of 3 days of their 5-day school week. The more exercise everyone gets, the less stressed and anxious they are likely to be.

Break out the art supplies. Cooped-up kids need a creative outlet, and that’s where your at-home arts and crafts hour will come in handy. Put your inspired art students to work organizing their own art and craft supplies, then have them select a project to focus on for the week. Giving them freedom of choice in what types of art projects they pursue, such as painting, drawing, wood working or doing handicrafts, will help them to feel like they have at least some level of autonomy during what may feel like a very restrictive situation.

Some schools may have specials’ teachers on top of their game. If this is the case with your child’s teachers, then you won’t have to rack your brain trying to come up with creative craft and fitness activities. The teachers may have recommendations already in place for you to follow along with. In that case, you need only enforce what’s already been instructed.

 

Routine is Everything When Teaching Kids at Home

Searching for solutions to help you stay on track with your make-shift home school itinerary during the Coronavirus pandemic? One very simple but effective method for keeping kids focused on learning is to establish and stick to a daily routine.

Not sure what your child(ren)’s daily home schooling schedule should be? Head on over to Google and type in “home school routine” under the Images search to see if any simple diagrams come up. Although you may not want to follow someone else’s school routine to the tee, it will help you remember which activities to include and in what order. Click through to the various examples for creative ideas on how to design their day.

A typical and expected school day will allot for both academic pursuits and special classes to help round out your children’s talents while letting them explore interests and develop skills. And you should also remember that a traditional school offers repeating daily subjects, including math, spelling, reading, science, social studies. But your kids also attend specials which cycle through on specific days. So Monday could be at-home art class at say, 1pm following lunch. Tuesday could be Technology. Wednesdays and Fridays might be phys ed, and so on.

What should your child’s daily routine look like when attending virtual school from the comfort of home? Luckily, you do have a bit more flexibility and freedom. So you can factor in and modify certain details as long as the work is still getting done. For example, maybe your kids really tend to be late risers. As long as they make the morning meeting and check-in with the teacher, you might at least let them have a more relaxed start to their day.

Just know though, that if your morning takes off at a slower pace than during the rest of the year when school is in session, your kids could be looking at an afternoon filled with studies and school work. After all, they will be expected to complete their assignments on time and to the usual level of quality and attention to detail. So even if you’re tempted to procrastinate the mornings, this might come back to bite you.

Your children’s’ ages will likely factor in to their daily schedule. If you have older kids and littles all learning under one roof, you might divide the day up to have lower grade students on their own itinerary. This could even involve having the bigger kids helping to manage the younger ones. To help move the home-school routine along, older kids might make lunch, do some light housework, read to little ones, and otherwise utilize their skills to help make it a fun, educational and productive day for all.

Don’t forget recess. Free play and time outdoors will definitely become an essential part of your at-home virtual learning experience for your school-aged kids. You might be tempted to have your children slog through their day’s work and be done with all subjects by the early afternoon. But don’t forget that strategically placed breaks make for increased concentration and information retention at the times when kids are learning and doing work. So space out your child’s day accordingly.

 

E-Learning is Great, But Make Time for Breaks

If you are at home with your children during the Coronavirus outbreak and navigating through the e-learning format, you will likely have some questions and feel a bit nervous as to whether you’re doing everything right.

For many students, teachers were amazingly able to roll out an online version of their daily school assignments in a relatively short amount of time. This is impressive… but we should also be aware that the sudden pressure to live out the school day attached to computer screens can have some unintended consequences. As much as today’s kids seem amenable to the online learning experience, they also may run into their share of challenges. Here’s how to navigate through that, keep kids learning, and retain your sanity in the process.

On the plus side, like all of us, kids really take to the computers. They generally do not seem to mind logging in and in fact appear enjoy typing, sending text messages, as well as creating and watching videos online. Of course, there are exceptions. But generally, the computer is seen as a positive thing by most students. This makes e-learning at home much easier to adapt to than would otherwise be the case.

The negative aspect of this is that it is known that computers are highly addicting. As much as your child likely enjoys excelling at computer math games and clicking through a series of questions and answers online, he or she is likely to become anxious, scattered and even emotional after too much time spent seated in one spot, looking at a computer screen.

The frustration, also, of making sure the technology is functioning correctly and that the student is able to follow links and type in passwords correctly to arrive at the correct remote location where their class is held or their assignments are stored, can also increase anxiety, both in students and in parents. When you’re already short on patience and wondering how you’ll manage to complete your own work, the struggle over computer use can be confounding to say the least.

Yet another source of difficulty comes from the student having to ask for help and then dealing with hovering parents who may want to take over control of the mouse, or vice versa. Two people sharing a computer trying to troubleshoot a technical problem often leads to higher levels of tension and frustration.

Below find a list of simple tips to remember as you and your family adapt to this new learning format during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Take a break from the computer every 35 minutes or so.

If your child is involved in an online meeting for school, you may go over this amount of time, which is understandable. In that case, give your children a break as soon as the opportunity comes. A good rule of thumb would be to let kids stand up, stretch, and move around a bit after logging off from their virtual learning station post-meeting.

Strive for good ergonomics.

We can’t always control how our children prefer to sit at their iPads, laptops or desktop computers. Being stuck in the house all day with nothing but virtual friends to connect with and virtual assignments to complete might have your child searching for the ideal spot and position to curl up in during screen time. However, it’s a good idea for each child in your household to have his or her own small desk or table where they can sit as comfortably as possible while typing and looking at the screen. Your children are growing at a rapid pace. For this reason it’s important to maintain correct posture when possible.

Give the eyes a rest.

As a result of increased computer use, more and more children are developing a condition called strabismus or lazy eye, where the eyes don’t focus in concert. This happens when the brain begins to favor vision in one eye over the other. Too much screen time can exacerbate the problem, and kids don’t have to be born with this condition to develop it. Additionally, your child may experience headaches, blurred vision and burning or tearing eyes as a result of too much computer use. It’s important to get up for breaks, rest the eyes, and focus on objects at different distances, throughout your day when working at a computer.

Make time for exercise.

Another side effect of too much time spent seated at a computer is muscle atrophy. Poor posture, low muscle tone, and lack of blood flow to the extremities are all side effects of remaining seated at a computer for most of the day. We see this in office workers, and with children becoming more attached to computers for school work, it’s now becoming a problem for them as well. You’ll be doing your kids a tremendous favor by providing them an exercise outlet that gets them away from the screen, moving their bodies and burning off energy.

Emotional regulation, too, can become an issue for pent-up kids who spend their days attached to computers, phones and video games. Again, the best thing you can give your kids to help survive the e-learning environment and channel stress in a positive way, is opportunities to get outside, run, play and move. If it’s raining, set up an indoor play space with exercise balls, light free weights, hula hoops and other fun activities to get them moving.

 

Virtual School is in Session: Make Yours a Crash Course in Life Skills Too

With the Coronavirus reports growing in severity, frequency and intensity, you may find yourself at near wit’s end trying to balance working from home with getting kids to do all of their homework without trying to kill each other. As social media reports suggest, parents are starting to become unhinged, what with all of the social isolation and too much time spent under the same roof with a gaggle of restless kids underfoot.

One opportunity that you can take during this stress-filled time in our lives is to get kids caught up on life skill proficiency. Like most of us living in the digital age, it is likely that you haven’t gone especially out of your way to teach your children how to survive on their own in terms of being self sufficient around the house.

Think back to when you were a child. Do you remember your mom suggesting that you do chores at home? Were you given a weekly allowance as an incentive to help out more around the house?

If you have failed to set up a system like this one and are tired of dealing with the endless cleaning and clearing out of spaces in your home, then the at-home orders given by health and government officials will be the perfect incentive to get going on a crash course in life skills 101 for your kids.

Please note that your child’s ability will vary depending on his or her age, personal development, fitness level and overall aptitude. If your child or children don’t seem able to manage a certain chore, you can always offer them a modified version or an opportunity to do something that is better suited to their willingness and abilities.

Below find some great ideas for what life skills to teach kids who are learning from home.

Basic cooking and serving skills. In terms of using the stove, apply your own careful discretion. For kids who seem ready, you can take them through the process of how to make a sandwich, how to put together a dinner salad, or how to prepare toast. You can team up on baking projects or make morning pancakes together. Don’t forget to hang back and let your kids do everything step by step. Taking over where your children fall short only enables them rather than helping them cultivate needed skills.

Dusting and polishing furniture. Every mom’s least favorite chore can become an easy way for your kids to collect a few dollars’ allowance. Grab an old sock or a dust rag and your furniture polish… or mix up a homemade cleaning recipe that you find online. Put kids to work dusting furniture, knick knacks and picture frames.

Washing and folding laundry. Laundry management is one of the simplest and most helpful tasks to enlist your children in doing. Plus, it will help immensely to have this tedious chore managed by someone other than you. You don’t even have to be picky about how the clothes are folded. Just a few simple lessons for kids in how to sort by item, match socks, and fold to fit into the drawer can greatly reduce your laundry to-do list. Littles can match and roll socks. Older kids can fill and run the washer and dryer. Soon enough, you’re on your way to having some capable laundry doers, either during a panic-inducing pandemic or just on an ordinary day.

Wiping surfaces. Now more than ever it’s important to keep all contact surfaces of your home clean of dirt and debris, and germ free. Even the smallest kids can help, and will even have fun, spraying and wiping table tops with disinfectant. You can use a soap and water solution, or combine vinegar and water with essential oils for a fresh, clean scent. If you use commercial cleaners, just have your kids don rubber gloves to avoid having skin contact with these substances.

Cleaning bathrooms. The bathroom is definitely a frequently used room of your home that needs daily disinfecting. Because it’s such a damp room where gross things happen, this is one of the more likely areas where germs are likely to spread. Keep home schooled kids busy – teach them the basics of wiping down the sink and tub, swishing the toilet with a disinfectant cleaner, and Windexing the mirror. Don’t forget to have your kids dispose of wipe rags properly, and thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water after cleaning the bathroom.

Vacuuming. Enlist older kids to help you push the vacuum around once or twice per week at minimum. Have them instruct younger brothers and sisters to pitch in by making sure that no stray items are left on the carpet which could result in a broken vacuum belt. For deeper cleaning and to remove pet odors from the rugs, let kids lightly sprinkle your carpets with baking soda. Then get the younger ones to walk and stomp all over the carpet to grind in the cleaning soda. Let it sit for an hour or two so the baking soda can do its job of absorbing odors. Finally, have your big kids vacuum the rugs for a cleaner, fresher home.

Taking out the garbage and recycling. One relatively easy task that is often best left to the preteens and teens of the family is managing garbage and recycling. Instruct your children on the night before garbage pickup is due in the morning, to go around and collect trash from all of the bedroom and bathroom garbage pails, and transfer those smaller bags into the larger bag of garbage that’s in the kitchen. Have them take all to the outside trash receptacle and then follow by removing and relocating any recyclables to the outside recycling bin.

 

Combine Learning and Play in Your Home School Day

Are you one of the many parents who are struggling to keep your kids under control, happy and schooled during the Coronavirus outbreak of 2020? Your frustration levels may be reaching an all-time high right now, but rest assured. The entire world is with you and feels your struggle.

One of the most important components of a well rounded education and balanced school day is play. Yes – even the most sophisticated educational games in the world won’t replace the cognitive and social skills gained by engaging in free play. Parents today may feel pressured to provide the best and most proven methods of educating their children. Rest assured, your kids are just as happy, maybe even more so, playing in a big empty refrigerator box as they are using state-of-the-art learning materials designed by academic experts.

So let’s talk about some simple ways that you can combine learning with play in your child’s daily life as a temporarily home schooled kid following the health officials’ order to remain at home during the Coronavirus pandemic. Here are some ideas:

Trace Against the Window

Here’s a quick little project to calm and center anxious kids, or pass the time on another dull day stuck at home! Trace artwork against a window pane.

Supplies needed:

Any book cover, photo, magazine page or other picture that your child might enjoy tracing and coloring. Could be a photo of a person, creature, flower, cartoon character, or anything he or she would enjoy working on.

Pencil for tracing

Tracing paper or plain white paper if you don’t have tracing paper

Assorted markers and crayons to add color to the project

Masking tape

Instructions:

Have the child choose a picture page that he or she would like to trace and color. Use the masking tape to attach the picture to the window pane. Tape a sheet of tracing paper or plain white paper to the picture. Press against the paper with your hand to see how the image appears as a result of the light shining through from behind.

Have the child use the pencil to trace an outline of the picture. The more detailed the image, the more fun he or she can have duplicating the picture to perfection.

When finished, gently peel the masking tape away from the paper and remove from the wall. Have your child sit at a table or desk and complete his or her artwork project by using markers and crayons to outline and color in the drawing any way he or she may like.

Have your child sign his or her name to the finished work. Add to photo frame or just tape to the wall for everyone to admire.

 

Open a Kid-Run Family Restaurant

Disappointed at not being able to enjoy an evening out at a restaurant with your family? Kids can create the dining-out experience from the comfort of home. From meal planning to drawing and/or printing your menu, to choosing a name for your family restaurant, to having kids cook, serve and clear the table… there is no limit to the fun you’ll have.

Supplies needed:

Simple dinner plans like burgers and salad, grilled cheese and canned soup, breakfast for dinner, or something easy that kids would be able to either cook on their own, or assist you with making, depending on their age and proficiency in the kitchen.

Table cloth

Plates, cups and flatware

Napkins

Paper, pencils, markers and crayons to hand-draw and write up a menu

Instructions:

Start by brainstorming a family restaurant name. No need to make a huge task of this. Just spend maybe 10 to 15 minutes kicking around ideas. Have family members vote on the name of your restaurant.

Let kids write up and design menus.

Assign each child a “job.” Older kids could be in charge of cooking, if applicable. (Parents can oversee the cooking if kids are still too little.) Younger children can wipe off the table, put the table cloth on, set out plates and silverware, etc., with assistance as needed.

Have the “server” pass out menus, then take everyone’s orders and bring to the kitchen where kids can help put the meal(s) together.

Lunch might be a good meal to design a menu around. It will be easy for kids to offer simple choices like peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cold cuts on bread, salad, or soup if kids are old enough to cook on the stove top or heat up soup in the microwave.

You can also just have kids take orders for, set the table, and serve a regular dinner that you cook yourself – so they don’t do too much damage to the kitchen!

 

The Classic “Pioneer” Game

Spark kids’ creativity and role play skills by engaging them in a Little House on the Prairie-esque game of living in the days of American pioneers. With the help of imagination, a bedroom can morph into a one-room log cabin with a fireplace and pot belly cook stove. Stuffed animals can become farm animals, and the stair case might morph into a mountain to climb up and down.

Play Dress-Up

Got dress-up clothes? Drag out your old night gowns, fancy shoes, and any costumerie that might be living in your attic or other storage area. Boys can raid Dad’s closet for old hats, sunglasses, sports memorabilia or a uniform or two. The fun, role-play games that kids naturally took to in the 1980s needn’t be a thing of yesteryear. Lots of potential play time is living right in your house, all you have to do is take a look around for ideas.

Set Up a Grocery Store Game

Don’t break down those recyclables just yet! There’s a potential kid-friendly grocery store living right in your kitchen bin. Grab some plastic and paper bags, break out your old calculator or adding machine relic if you still have one around. Let kids set up their own grocery store in the play room. They can even add price tags and use real coins for payment. A business and math lesson all in one!

Have Kids Launch a Home Cleaning Business

If your kids aren’t quite responsive to your repeated requests for them to clean the house, turn it into a game and they might just change their tune. Have them print out business signs, list their pricing, gather cleaning supplies, and don aprons if they like. Pretty soon your merry maids will be learning about small business as they de-clutter, clean and shine your home to spic and span.

Ask Kids to Design and Illustrate Spelling Flash Cards

This game does double duty as preschool learning and teaching all in one. If you have kids of all ages that you’re trying to keep occupied during the government stay-home order, you might try offloading some of the teaching to the other ones, who will likely enjoy it. Grab some plain white card stock from Wal-Mart or Target, along with a package of colored markers. Ask your older kids to come up with a list of simple words to teach little ones how to spell. Examples could be Dog, Cat, Stop, No, Hello, Car, Run and so forth. Have them neatly print each word on a card, and draw and color a picture to match the word. When finished, they can turn this into a spelling lesson for little ones. Brilliant!

Open a Kid-Run Medical Center

One really smart way to help kids become aware of health related concerns without growing fearful in the process is to get them to play act the roles of doctor, nurse and patient. You probably have an old play set lying around that has a toy thermometer, band-aid and other medical related accessories. If not, you can always improvise. For example, a tightly rolled up and taped sheet of construction paper could become a thermometer. Your kids can draw and cut out homemade band-aids to keep in place with tape.

Run a Fitness Center

What child doesn’t get a kick out of pedaling the stationary bike, running on a tread mill and using their muscles to lift 3 or 5-lb. barbells. When you turn your fitness room of the house into a kid-owned gym, you take exercise to a new and exciting level. Your kids can alternate roles such as person working the gym desk, personal trainer spotting others, and exercise instructor leading a yoga, hula hooping or other exercise class. Kids honestly love these types of role playing games because they get to engage in a way that computers just can’t offer.

 

4 Great Projects for Home School Kids to Try

Running out of ideas for how to engage your at-home taught children during the Coronavirus quarantine? Take your cue from clever teachers and savvy scientists. Below find some popular, tried and tested projects that kids can do easily from the comfort of home.

Make Your Own Slime

Here’s a basic slime recipe using Borax and Elmer’s White School Glue. You can also use PVA glue – PVA stands for Polyvinyl Acetate which is a non toxic substance found in wood glue.

If you have never purchased Borax, it’s easily found in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store. So if you’re bored at home during the Coronavirus pandemic and you don’t have a lot of stores open in your area, you can easily pick up these ingredients on your next food shopping trip.

Ingredients:

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Borax powder

1/2 cup white glue or PVA glue

2 half-cups of water (for a total of 1 cup)

2-3 drops food coloring

To make:

Dissolve the Borax powder into the warm water. Mix the half-cup of water with half a cup of white or PVA glue and let that dissolve. Combine the Borax solution, food coloring, and the glue solution in a mixing bowl and use your hands to knead this new, weird substance. Your slime will form quickly.

What’s the science behind slime? Glue is comprised of long, repeating molecule strands. The boric acid (borate) ions combine with the glue to form a stretchy polymer. Slime is half liquid and half solid – known as a Non-Newtonian fluid.

Add glitter or confetti to your slime for added stretchy, slimy enjoyment!

Turn Water Glasses into Music

Music meets math in this easy to do, fun and engaging experiment. Your kids will be amazed to learn that the level of water in a drinking glass creates different pitches of musical notes when you tap on the glass with a spoon. Test out how it works by lining up the glasses, filling to various water levels, then tapping on each glass to hear what note comes out. If you get good at it, you can even make your glasses into a scale of musical notes – A, B, C, D, E – and have fun playing an actual song!

What you’ll need:

Water glasses with a round bottom – should all be the same type of glass.

Water to fill the glasses to varying levels

Pitcher for pouring

Spoon for tapping the glasses

Masking tape

Permanent marker

Instructions:

Have your child line up the empty water glasses in a row. Get a pitcher and fill it with water. The pitcher should be light enough for kids to be able to lift it without assistance. Instruct your child to pour some water from the pitcher into the first glass. The pitcher is an important component of this at-home project because kids get the opportunity to hone motor skills.

Next have your child pick up the spoon to tap on the glass and hear what the musical tone sounds like. For the next glass in the row, do the same but have the child fill the glass to a lower or higher position. Tap both glasses and compare the tone. Which is higher? Which is lower? How do the notes sound when played one and then the other? Tap softly to hear how the tone resonates. Tap more firmly (but don’t crack the glass!) for a louder effect.

Take this experiment to the next level by filling the glasses to specific levels that are exactly one whole note apart. If you have a musical instrument such as a piano or keyboard in the house, you can press the keys to compare the sounds made on the glass and find out what note you’re playing.

Each time your child fills the next glass to be one full note “up” from the last, he or she can place a strip of tape on the glass up to the water level line. When all glasses have the right amount of water in each to create a scale of whole notes, your kids can tap each glass and go “up” the scale, then back down again. “Do, re, mi, fah, so, la ti, do”

Want to try a more advanced experiment? Your child can tap each glass, compare to the sound that each note makes on a piano or keyboard, then use the permanent marker to write down on the piece of tape that’s attached to each glass what note it is.

Got musically inclined kids? See if they can figure out how to play a simple melody! Mary Had a Little Lamb and Hot Cross Buns are good beginner songs to try.

Make Your Own Elephant Toothpaste

Are your school aged kids bored of the same old at-home routine? Here’s a must-try science experiment that promises foam-full fun and science knowledge to boot. It’s known as Elephant Toothpaste. You may have already come across this recipe as it’s made the rounds online.

This project will come in handy during the seemingly endless Coronavirus quarantine. Next time you head out to the grocery store with your face mask in place, pick up a package of yeast, a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide and some food coloring.

Please note, if you want your elefoam to be the foamiest it can possibly be, you can use 6% hydrogen peroxide — however, this is typically only found in beauty supply stores. So if you can’t get a hold of 6%, a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide will do.

Ingredients:

16 oz soda or water bottle

1 bottle of 3% (or 6% if you can find it) hydrogen peroxide solution

1 Tbs. dry yeast

3 Tbs. or more of warm water

Dishwashing liquid

Food coloring

This is a experiment will result in foam gushing all over the place. To minimize mess, you might want to cut open a large garbage bag to use as a table liner and make cleanup quick and easy. If it’s a warm day, you might try doing this experiment outside.

Instructions:

Pour 1/2 cup of the hydrogen peroxide into the plastic bottle. Add 10 drops of food coloring in any color you’d like. Drop in a Tablespoon of the dish washing liquid and swirl the bottle around to combine ingredients.

Next, add the package of dry yeast to a small bowl and pour in warm water. Mix together and let sit for 30 seconds.

Ready for the foamtastic fun? Pour yeast mixture into the bottle of peroxide and other ingredients. Let the intense, foaming action begin!

People think this stuff resembles a giant tube of toothpaste – the size that an elephant might use! The foam is quite satisfying to behold, and you can do the experiment several times if you have brothers and sisters who might want to join in. Just make sure that Mom picks up extra supplies for everyone who would like to participate.

How does science apply here? The yeast mixture acts as a catalyst, speeding up the reaction of oxygen bubbles being produced as a result of the added soap.

Safety tips: Hydrogen peroxide can irritate skin and eyes. Wear safety goggles for added protection. A funnel can help you get the liquid into the soda bottle, though you can probably pour it if you take your time and steady your pouring hand.

Some people’s skin temporarily develops white spots on the surface after handling hydrogen peroxide. If this happens to you, don’t worry – it will clear up in about 15 minutes or so.

Tie-Dye Tee Shirts at Home

Looking for an interesting project to do with the kids while homebound for the stay-at-home government orders to prevent the spread of Coronavirus? Give your family’s spring wardrobe a fresh look with some hand tie-dyed tee shirts. This is a fun and easy project to do with the kids. You can pick up a tie-dye tee shirt kit at Wal-Mart, which will hopefully still be open by the time you read this! Or, just grab a couple of bottles of fabric dye in the colors of your choices from your grocery store.

Tie-dying using rubber bands can be difficult for small hands, but it’s a great hand strength builder and good for motor skill development. For each shirt that you dye, vary the twisting technique if you like – this will affect the tie-dye design end result. Try twisting your tee shirts in different ways to compare the outcome.

Here’s what you’ll need:

White tee shirts

Heavy duty rubber bands or twine

Bucket(s) or tub(s) to contain the mess

Squirt bottles of fabric dye and water solution in various colors

NOTE: Tee shirt dying kits come with small squirt bottles and dye powder. The idea is to fill the squirt bottles with water, add dye powder and use the solution to squirt the dye into a shallow container which you can then use to cover the shirt with color. If you don’t buy a kit, you can use empty, cleaned shampoo bottles with squirt tops to fill with dye solution.

Another method of tie-dying is to skip the squirt bottles and instead fill a bucket with water and the dye powder. This method works if you plan to make a single color tie dye. So if you submerge your shirt into a bucket of blue dye, your end result will be a blue and white tie-dye.

Instructions:

How to do a spiral tie-dye:

The method here will create a spiral tie-dye pattern. Start by grabbing the tee shirt at the top edge or corner and tightly twisting it long ways. Secure the twist tightly with a rubber band, then continue twisting and add another rubber band to secure. Keep going until the entire tee shirt is tightly twisted and rubber banded. If you want your spiral to show on the front of the shirt, then pinch the tee shirt at that spot and begin twisting and rubber-banding from there.

Next, squirt a few small puddles of the fabric dye into the bucket. Use the twisted tee shirt to sop up the puddles of dye. Try different colors and continue the process until the tee shirt is completely dyed.

How to do a marbleized tie-dye:

You are not limited to the spiral design when tie-dying. Try a marbleized effect for some of your tee shirts. To do this, you will bunch instead of twist. Bunch up the tee shirt and secure with rubber bands, before squirting with and sopping up different colors or submerging into a bucket of single color dye.

When finished dyeing your shirt, remove the rubber bands and rinse the tee shirt under cool water. Let dry.

Once your tee shirts are completely dyed, remove the rubber bands and admire your new design. Rinse under cool water until the dye no longer bleeds from the garment.

Let your tie-dye tee shirts hang dry before wearing. Wash separately for the first wash to be sure there is no residual fabric dye that may bleed into the laundry water and stain your other clothes.

 

Balance Tech Based Teaching with Real Life Instructions

While today’s virtual learning environment really seems to hold unique appeal for school aged students, home schooled moms may already be recognizing the signs that kids are spending far too much time hooked into technology.

Whether it’s struggling to log on and attend the teacher’s weekly virtual meet-up, typing assignments into forms that they must then submit while praying that the computer doesn’t conk out for some inexplicable reason, feeling frustrated over instant message tween dramas, or losing to a fellow gamer, there are myriad reasons kids stay attached to computers for far longer than is healthy.

As moms voice their frustrations on social media to an ever-disgruntled audience of meme-sharing friends who are in the same exact situation, it becomes clear that the answer is not MORE logins, more tech based assignments and more virtual connections with friends.

The real answer is that the necessary tech driven school requirements should be balanced with tech free teaching and frequent breaks that include exercise, outdoor play, creative projects, board games, puzzles, and down time.

What does a balanced day of e-learning look like? That may depend on the kind of mom or dad who’s driving the lessons. It should definitely depend on the student and his or her own style of learning, personality, introverted versus extroverted tendency, attention span, and other factors.

Below find a sample home school routine to help you and your family cope during the Coronavirus at-home order:

Sample Home School Schedule for Early Risers:

MONDAY

6:30 to 7:30 a.m. Wake up, get dressed

7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Breakfast

8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Review work for the day, check in with class if online morning meetings are scheduled

9:30 to 10: 30 a.m. Outdoor play if weather permits. If raining, take a dance break or do a quick exercise video on YouTube.

10:30 to 11:30: Tackle the most difficult subject. This is the time when attention span will be the longest.

11:00 to 11:15: Small, healthy snack such as fruit and yogurt

11:15 to 12:30: Move on to next homework topic

12:30 to 1:15: Lunch break

1:15 to 1:45: Free play

1:45 to 2:30: Focus on specials such as music or art OR work on a household task

2:30 to 4:00: Complete any work still due. Upload work to school portal.

4:30 to 6:00: Free play, tech permitted

6:00 to 6:30: Dinner and chore

6:30 to 7:30: Quiet time, no tech – reading, writing or drawing

7:30 to 8:30: Bath, pajamas, bedtime routine

TUESDAY

6:30 to 7:30 a.m. Wake up, get dressed

7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Breakfast and free play

8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Review work for the day, check in with class if online morning meetings are scheduled

9:30 to 10: 30 a.m. Home gym class – can be outdoor or indoor

10:30 to 11:30: Tackle the most difficult subject. This is the time when attention span will be the longest.

11:00 to 11:15: Small, healthy snack such as fruit and yogurt

11:15 to 12:30: Art, craft or cooking project

12:30 to 1:15: Lunch break

1:15 to 3:30: Work on schoolwork, including writing on paper and tech based assignments

3:30 to 4:30: Upload work to school portal and check in to see if teacher or principal has any important updates

4:30 to 5:30: Free play, tech permitted such as video games

5:30 to 6:30: Outdoor time, such as walking, riding bikes, free play outside

6:00 to 6:30: Dinner, then household chore

6:30 to 7:30: Quiet time, no tech – reading, writing or drawing

7:30 to 8:30: Bath, pajamas, bedtime routine

Whether you choose to proceed with a home schooling schedule like the ones suggested above, or devise your own plan to fill your child’s day will depend on a few factors. You know your child better than anyone else, including which times of the day are his or her best times for learning, when he or she might get hungry or antsy, and at what time your child might want to catch a break with some down time.

Keep in mind that the new e-learning formats are unfamiliar to all, including your children’s teachers. It is highly likely that your children will be given some leeway as they adjust to this new and unfamiliar routine.

 

How to Cope with Waning Attention Spans While Teaching Kids at Home

By far the biggest challenge that parents are facing during the corona virus crisis of 2020 is that they are expected to successfully home school their children while balancing their own work from home computers.

A quick log onto social media (don’t do it) and you’ll likely see parents proverbially pulling their hair out over the inability to get kids to stop playing with their siblings, fighting, whining or procrastinating so they can buckle down and get their school work completed in a timely fashion.

It may seem counter productive, but believe it or not the best way to get kids to focus on school work is by NOT forcing them to constantly do school work.

It has long been established that the human brain does best with focusing in on tasks for about 35 minutes at a time. After this, it is important to take a break in order to retain the optimum level of concentration.

If your child seem unable to concentrate, there may be any one of a number of reasons as to why this is happening. Run through the below checklist before throwing up your hands in despair.

Your child can’t concentrate on school work… what’s wrong?

Did not get enough sleep. If kids aren’t going to bed early enough it can be because bed time isn’t being enforced properly. Maybe your child settles down to sleep at 10 pm when the ideal time is 8:30. Age factors in here. If your child can’t seem to wind down for bed it could be that he or she is not getting enough exercise during the day. Increase physical activity, including indoor and outdoor sports and physical exercise.

Child may be hungry. If breakfast was something small like half a bagel and no protein, your child’s brain may need a boost of fuel. Offer a protein-rich snack, like nuts and fruit, or cheese and crackers. Is it lunch time? Take a break from school work and sit the family down for a proper sandwich.

Child ate too much sweets and didn’t burn it off. Sometimes the solution is right in front of us but we can’t see it. Kids on candy overload? Send them outside to play and work off that sugar. Come back for a protein snack and settle back into the school day.

Child needs exercise. There doesn’t have to be a reason why children should go outside and burn off excess energy every day. It’s just a fact of life. Host gym class earlier in the day and see if this helps improve concentration levels in kids.

Child needs a potty break. Young children in particular don’t always know when it’s time to go. If your child seems bored, listless and fidgety, there could be tummy troubles. Try offering fiber rich foods and plenty of water to speed the process along. Take note of whether focus improves as a result.

Too much screen time. Kids need to stretch and move their bodies. Being on the computer for too long produces an unhealthy amount of restless energy. Did you know that the body goes into fight or flight mode, producing excess cortisol, during the online experience, with all of the constant alerts and pressing of keys for a needed result? If your children can’t settle down to do schoolwork, get them outside and away from the computers and online games. Return and try again in a half hour.

Child needs human connection. The social distancing rule is taking its toll on everyone, kids especially. If your children seem to be emotionally affected, permit them an outlet for their feelings and remember to be patient. Find ways to connect with friends, whether it’s sending a funny email, calling up Grandma, doing a video chat with school mates, Face Timing friends and family on the iPhone or waving at the neighbors or people at the park from more than 10 feet away.

 

Home School Success for Kids With Learning Challenges

Children with learning challenges may find the e-learning environment to be especially difficult. With the Coronavirus pandemic raising stress levels on the whole, your best bet if dealing with kids who have a learning challenge is to be patient and try to reflect a calm demeanor.

Below find some basic coping skills to help you get through this trying time as a home schooling parent.

Don’t let your learning challenged kid fall under the radar. If your child was previously enrolled in a special program to help facilitate learning and move past difficult areas, you will want to initiate contact with teachers to be sure that the level of attention offered will continue. Reach out to teachers to make sure that the curriculum will support your child’s individual education program (IEP).

Stay on top of the situation. Kids who are challenged academically may have trouble keeping up with their assigned tasks. This might means parents checking in daily via email to be sure the child is caught up with all work that is due, then following up after each assignment to be sure that all work was turned in on time and completed.

Offer lots of exercise and fresh air. Every child needs play time and outdoor time to work off energy so they can focus on school. But with kids who have trouble learning, this is especially important. If your child seem to be getting frustrated over school work, don’t force the issue. Instead, offer a play break and a healthy snack. Return to the assignment after 30 minutes to an hour, and see if concentrate improves.

Continue with any needed medications. Many ADD/ADHD diagnosed students are able to increase focusing ability once they have been prescribed medications and begin taking them. If your child is taking medicine to help with attention and focus, now is not the time to slack off in giving their prescribed dose, even if the world seem to have been temporarily turned upside down as a result of Coronavirus.

Try supplements. There is growing evidence that certain supplements such as vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin), magnesium, and omega-3 fish oil have a positive result for people with mood disorders, hyperactivity, learning challenges and other neurological conditions. Talk to your child’s doctor for recommendations on supplements to try.

Be flexible in how your child learns. Each person is different and not everyone takes to the traditional academic format. As frustrated as you might be during this challenging time of a global pandemic, working one on one with your child might bring about opportunities to learn in a different and exciting new way.

 

Tech Must Haves to Ensure Kids’ Safety Online while Virtual Learning

It is critically important to provide a secure online computing experience to your child, not just in regular online activities, but especially now that the schools have turned to a virtual learning format to help reduce contact with others and attempt to prevent the spread of disease.

Just as we take special precautions to try and avoid real viruses, we should also pay special attention to our computing methods so as to avoid computer viruses. Why is this important? Computer viruses are programs that “open a door” and allow hackers and thieves back door entry to your information.

How do viruses get onto your computer?

A computer programmer creates a virus in the form of a .exe file which means executable. The executable file may download onto your computer via an image file or a link from a web page.

Why do hackers send viruses to our computers?

Hackers want to connect to your computer either to access bank account login details for the purpose of theft, or because they may be child predators. Other reasons people hack computers are less nefarious. Some just want to scare people or play jokes.

Ways that viruses can be downloaded onto your computer:

  • Clicking a link that leads to a malicious website
  • Hackers using chat and instant messenger programs to transmit files
  • Emails that ask you to click a link or that download executable files via an image.

Ways to prevent viruses from getting to your computer:

  • Set your email so that images do not appear unless you specify within the email after verifying that this is a safe sender.
  • Get firewall protection and keep it updated. Zone Alarm is a well known firewall and antivirus software that puts a block up against any potential invaders to your machine.
  • Install a good antivirus program. Many antivirus programs now offer a basic free version, plus enhanced services such as an antivirus, firewall protection, malware and adware removal all in one. You can pay to bundle these services together, as it will save you much time as opposed to maintaining individual free versions of all these features.

Why is it important for kids to use YouTube Kids?

YouTube kids offers a kid-friendly format in that they filter out profanity and adult content which may include profanity, violence and adult themes. They also block video descriptions so that kids won’t be lured in by “click bait” messages which then lead to nefarious links containing computer viruses.

Are Apple products virus free?

It is said that iPads are immune to viruses, and as of 2020 this remains true. So if your child is using a personal computer to manage virtual learning assignments sent home from school, you may want to invest in an iPad to improve the safety of his or her user experience online.

How should I set up my child’s computer for safety and security?

Below find some procedures to put into place as your child becomes accustomed to the new and semi-permanent e-learning format.

Settle on a reliable form of virtual storage. It is presumed that your child’s school work will be uploaded to the school’s private computer server. However, any other files that you may be keeping that do not relate to school should be uploaded to a remote storage program or cloud server.

If you choose remote storage, such as DropBox for example, you’ll be able to save files only. So if your computer gets a virus, you’ll have the files saved BUT you’ll have to start from square 1 with reinstalling any programs you use, and reconfiguring any preferences for working in a specific program. This could take hours or even days of your time. With a cloud server, you get to store everything including desktop settings, programs and files.

Keep a clean machine. If a virus does get onto your computer despite your putting all of the necessary precautions into place, the fastest way to return your computer to virus free, normal working order is by reinstalling the operating system. You will need the original operating disk that came with your machine in order to do this.

When you reinstall the operating system, any virus that might have made its way to your system will be wiped out. But unfortunately, so will all of the programs, applications you have installed and all of the files you have saved including images, videos and word processing files will be erased, too.

This is why it’s critical to store your data either on a remote storage device, or on a cloud server that you pay for.

No matter how diligent you are at keeping your child’s computer protected, there are always some risks when it comes to being connected with the online world. Anything that has “multiple entry points” poses a risk. Any app or program that connects your child with other people online, whether it’s social media, chat rooms, gamers connecting with each other, or people commenting on videos and social posts, poses a risk.

Your child’s computer use that is necessary for school should be kept separate from any personal and social computer use, including messaging and sending emails back and forth with family and friends. Your child’s school should have strong security protocol in place on their secure server and the best way to keep it that way is to keep school matters related to school associates only.

Another good practice is to not share a computer with your child. You can add layers of protection to your family computer use by designating a specific computer to be used for a specific purpose only.

For example, your laptop that you use to conduct business for your limited liability company should never be used to surf online or chat with personal contacts.

Your child’s computer should be used only for the purpose of schooling and not for adult themed internet surfing.

 

Creative Ways to Connect with Other Kids While Learning Virtually

Practicing social distancing has definitely become more than just a small challenge over the last several weeks of March 2020. On the one hand, we’re all at our near wit’s end, trapped at home with immediate family. On the other hand, many are petrified at the news headlines tracking the virus on its path of global destruction – so much so, that it is not worth the risk of seeing loved ones and friends face to face. Plus, many more are deeply worried by the negative impact the shut-down has had on our economy.

Despite all of these worries, we want to project an attitude of calm to our children. This is honestly the best thing we can do for them. And yet, we know that in order for them to keep their spirits and motivation levels up with regard to school and academic performance, as well as maintaining peace of mind and happy feelings, we have got to find a way to keep our connections with other humans strong.

Below find some ideas:

Reach out and touch someone. You don’t need to sync up your use of the same video calling program, though that can certainly be fun and satisfying. Just do like we did in the good old days. Pick up the phone and call someone you care about. Is there a hidden social skills lesson in this? You bet there is! Teach kids how to talk on the phone and have a pleasant conversational exchange.

Face time family and friends. iPhone users get to enjoy video calling built right into their phones. Just be sure when you Face Time a friend, you schedule in advance to give that person time to clear a half hour or so.

Start your own YouTube channel. Upload videos of what you’re up to at home – share crafts that you’re trying out, new recipes, DIY projects, and funny pet videos which are always popular. Just be sure that if this is your child’s channel, that the videos are set to private or unlisted so that only trusted family and friends will be able to view them.

Become a blogger. The Coronavirus pandemic is certainly a strange time to be alive, but there are always interesting stories, lessons to be learned and new ways of thinking that come about in trying times like these. Invite others to follow along your journey with a Friends and Family Only blog that can only be viewed by people who have the link, and that isn’t indexed by search engines.

 

Virtual School Life Skills Challenge Checklist

Take the Virtual School Life Skills Challenge! Go beyond academics and into real world, real life survival skills that your family can learn at this restrictive yet innovative time in their lives. Here’s a checklist of life skills to focus on helping your kids master while stuck at home indefinitely for “virtual school.”

Teach kids to make their own beds. Do your children wake up and make their beds every day? This is a chore that children of past generations were expected to perform on the daily. Your kids’ bed making skills don’t have to be perfect. It’s enough to smooth out the sheets and pull the bed covers up over the pillow. Ideal age for kids to make the bed: 7 and up.

Teach kids to tie their shoes. One very sad thing about today’s kids is that many have fallen way behind at the art of tying shoes. If you are one of those shame-faced parents who failed to help their child tie his or her own shoes, you now have plenty of time to work on this skill with them, along with mastering the art of tying a variety of knots. Ideal age for kids to tie a bow: 5 and up.

Teach kids to cook basic recipes. What if your child were home alone, would he or she be able to make a simple meal? Cooking skills such as using the toaster, boiling water, heating up soup and making scrambled eggs can all be mastered well before high school. One possible indicator that your child may be ready: he or she can reach the stove knobs to turn on or off. Use your judgment in determining whether your child can be trusted to cook food on the stove unattended. Many younger kids can be taught basic cooking skills even though they are not yet ready to master use of the stove on their own. Ideal age for kids to learn basic cooking techniques: 8 and up. Ideal age for kids to cook on their own: approximately 12 and up.

Teach kids to do dishes. We may not always have the luxury of a working dishwasher. So if your kids don’t know the “Joy” of doing dishes by hand then it’s time to show them how. Washing dishes can be a fun and therapeutic activity; furthermore, this out of all the chores you might teach them will ensure that your family has clean, germ free hands. Ideal age to learn how to do dishes: 10 and up.

Teach kids to build a campfire. With plenty of back yard time thanks to the Coronavirus quarantine, families would do well to equip their children with survival skills. One great skill to have is learning to build a campfire. Kids can gather wood, learn what type of wood makes a good fire, identify kindling versus long-burning logs, and how to light a campfire with and without a match or lighter. In addition, you can teach kids camp fire safety such as what the ideal location for a fire is, how to safely extinguish your campfire, and what day is not a good day to build a fire, for example in dry, windy conditions. Ideal age to learn how to build a fire and practice campfire safety: 12 and up.

Teach kids to sweep the kitchen floor. A swept kitchen floor is much easier to wipe down when you’re going for germ-free home. Your child will develop needed coordination and skills simply by picking up a broom, sweeping dirt into a pile, then squatting to sweep the dirt into a dust pan and place in the trash.

Teach kids to run the vacuum. From picking up stray items on the floor to passing the Hoover over the carpets, to breaking out the cleaning tools to tackle corners and stairs, vacuuming is certainly an excellent way to put restless energy to productive use. Ideal age to start vacuuming: approximately 10 and up.

 

Connecting Meaningfully, Yet Keeping Social Distance

Losing your mind over Coronavirus? Afraid to leave the house? How do we manage to connect meaningfully with friends and family during a quarantine period when people are forced to stay at home and avoid close contact?

Even without a social distancing order, it’s become increasingly difficult to foster close connections with so much impulsive activity on social media. Honestly, having access to Facebook and text messaging has ironically divided us instead of bringing people together. This is because we speak to each other on the fly, while multi tasking, without following up, and in a very haphazard way. The person on the other end of your communication ends up feeling misunderstood and taken for granted, or forgotten in the shuffle.

Can we take this time out to correct our sloppy communication and connect more meaningfully? Of course we can.

Below find a few ideas for deepening your human connection despite the distance.

Write a letter. When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter that shared your thoughts and feelings, relayed precious memories, reflected on a situation, and really let the person on the other end know that you care deeply about them and value their friendship? A handwritten letter will be a welcome surprise to a long-lost friend… and even if you choose email over picking up a pen and paper, it still will be a wonderful thing for the person on the receiving end to read what you shared.

Talk to one person at a time instead of 200. One reason why social media feels so disconnected is because we generally throw out an idea or a thought and wait for a bite from anyone who happens to be there. But what if you were longing to talk to one special person who really gets you — an old friend, your hubby or wife, or your bestie? Your special person won’t feel very special unless you choose to connect with them. So forget making that public announcement, and instead share how you feel with just one person.

Pick up the phone. Have you fallen out of the habit of giving mom or dad a call? Maybe you’ve just been so busy running around from here to there, doing all The Things. Now that nobody is allowed to run around anymore, which people top your list of voices you’d like to hear on the other end of the line? Pick up your cell phone and give that person a chance to hear your voice and you stories. Get some conversational and storytelling practice in – Lord knows, we were all getting rusty!

Make a collage of memories. Your family, thrown together under one roof  by extreme circumstances, might be fighting like cats and dogs but you might also be bonding – deeply so. If shared activities like taking nature walks, doing DIY projects, cooking food and making art are bringing your loved ones together like never before, then why not document it by taking pictures and then making a wonderful collage of memories. While other people might be focusing on the fear and uncertainty of the times, you can look back on the government quarantine as a blessed moment when you felt truly happy, connected and loving toward those who are most important in your life.

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