With schools shutting down temporarily across the country, you may find yourself in the unexpected position of homeschooling your children for the time being.
First, take a deep breath. We are all in this together. Even veteran homeschoolers are in uncharted territory. Homeschoolers do tend to do outside activities. All of those have been cancelled. Even the libraries are closing in my area. We are all going to have waaaayyyyy more family togetherness than we are used to.
If your school is doing on-line learning, the educational component of their day is being taken care of. You may still want to keep reading this article to come up with ideas of activities to keep your children busy as we all keep our social distance. If your school has left you to your own devices, have no fear. There are many things you can do to keep your children’s brains engaged during this unplanned break.
- Play Games
It’s time to break out those board games that have been collecting dust. Many games also help teach math. Games such as Chutes and Ladders help teach counting; Yahtzee teaches multiplication of small numbers; Payday teaches some math skills as well as valuable life lessons in paying bills; Monopoly also teaches math and investing. Card games are also great for teaching math. You can also play store in your house. Use real money if you have it available or make play money out of construction paper.
- Cook with Your Children
Cooking is not only a valuable life lesson; it also teaches math skills such as measurement, doubling or tripling a recipe, and working with fractions.
If there was ever a time to read to your children or listen to an audiobook together, this is it. Libraries may be closing, so dig out the old books that have been neglected in your house. If you need to use online resources, many libraries allow you to download e-books and audiobooks from their collections. Plus, there is always Amazon. Even if they stop delivering (which I am really hoping doesn’t happen), they have many books available for download on Kindle or Audible.
Have your children compose a story or a play. If they are not able to write for themselves, have them dictate it and write it for them. Let them illustrate it if they would like. If it is a play, they can act it out. Have fun creating costumes out of old clothes or materials that you have in the house.
- Enjoy Some Nature Study
Thankfully, it is spring. Things are starting to grow outside. Use Google Lens on your smartphone (if you have it) to help identify the various sprouts in your yard or birds or bugs that you see. Get some paper and colored paper or markers to draw what you see outside.
- Break Out the Art
It’s time for all those art projects you never have time for. Let your children have fun painting. Make homemade play-dough. If you know how to knit or crochet, teach your children. If you have basic sewing skills (even just by hand) and some scrap material lying around (even if it is old clothes that no longer fit), try making a simple patchwork quilt. Cut various materials into 3 inch squares and then sew them together to make a pattern. No material? You can do the same thing with construction paper. Cut out triangles and squares and see what kind of patterns you can make. Have any sidewalk chalk around? Go out and decorate the driveway or sidewalk. Take out that big box of LEGO and let your children be creative.
- Watch Videos
Provided your children don’t have a sensitivity to it, there is nothing wrong with a couple hours of screen time a day. Let them watch videos on topics that they are interested in. Here is a list of educational YouTube channels that a friend of mine put together.
- Let Your Children Lead Their Learning
One of the great gifts of homeschooling is time. We all live highly structured lives. Kids today don’t get a lot of downtime. This unexpected break gives them time to pursue interests that they may never get the time to pursue. Let them daydream and be bored a bit. Out of that boredom will come ideas of how to occupy their time. Self-directed learning is true learning. Even if it looks like play, children are always learning.
- Online Learning
If you are looking for more traditionally academic resources, here is a wonderful document of Educational Companies offering Free subscriptions due to the crisis. Kahn Academy offers an abundance of free classes. Homeschool Connections is a Catholic program for middle and high school which offers an affordable monthly fee for recorded classes.
- Faith Formation
Where I live, all Church activities have been shut down. While we don’t have the benefit of the sacraments, we can still practice our faith. Daily prayer is always important. You can find the daily Mass Readings on the USCCB site. Holy Heroes is a great resource for children’s faith formation. Their free Lenten program is currently going on. They also have wonderful saint stories to download (for a modest cost).
They are many ways to keep your children busy and learning during this school break. May we all pray for those who are sick and that this crisis soon passes.