I’ve been homeschooling my daughter since she was 4, which is probably why I’m receiving messages from friends and acquaintances asking me what they can do now that schools have been shut down for a period of weeks. And I’ve been telling them all the same thing.
There's no need for panic, chaos or stacks of fill-in-the-blank workbooks. You don’t need to sign your kids up for online programs requiring them to spend endless hours on a computer screen solving math problems and memorizing grammar rules.
Here’s what you can do instead.
Let. Them. Play.
Yes... play. Even if your kids aren't toddlers anymore.
Read books, play board games, dig out some Lego blocks, make art, create crafts, doodle, sing songs, listen to the radio, dance, kick a ball, go for walks (as long as you follow social distancing rules), watch some YouTube videos (yes, even those weird slime challenges featuring girls with super long fingernails).
Give your kids some time to explore their interests.
Let them sleep in.
Encourage them to eat well.
Worried about math? Find some recipes and do some cooking or baking.
Concerned about science? Do a few experiments.
Nervous about history? Watch a documentary on Netflix.
Believe it or not, learning isn’t rocket science. We all do it automatically if given half a chance.
Also… making art is a non-medicinal way to stimulate dopamine - the chemical associated with the reward center in your brain. Increased levels of dopamine make us feel happy and relaxed, which is what all of us really need right now, more than ever.
So, try making a "creativity machine" by filling a basket with some simple craft supplies you already have in your home (like crayons, markers, glue sticks, scissors, paper, pencil crayons, etc.). Print a few coloring sheets and write out a couple of drawing prompts. Put it all on the table and walk away, leaving it for your kids to find.
It’s easy, it’s cheap and it will fill your family with calm.
Instead of worrying that your kids are about to forget everything they've ever known, just give them a chance to learn on their own for a while. You will be amazed by the results.
Also, wash your hands!