By Katelyn M. Forcucci
While adapting and readjusting to a new (albeit temporary) normal, learners are being asked to get their education from home. These learners are being guided by their very first educators – their parents. While it may be tempting to superglue your young one to a chair at the kitchen table, here are some ideas to shift from the homebound blues to become a homebound hero!
1: MAKE THE ORDINARY EXTRAORDINARY
As some kids struggle with being cooped in, it never hurts to add a little fun to the day.
- Make colorful waffles.
- Wake up your kids by singing to them.
- Instead of “Elf on the Shelf,” do a spring gnome, fairy, or rabbit version.
- Do a TikTok video with the family.
- Create a Jeopardy board out of flashcards and a cardboard box.
- Create a star chart for successful days/tasks.
Now is the time to make every day a fun adventure.
2: SET A SCHEDULE
Learners of all ages are used to a routine and schedule at school. On the fridge or on a dry-erase board (dry-erase markers work on mirrors and windows, too), set up your child’s daily schedule. Be sure to break up the monotony with some of the ideas here. Keeping a visible schedule will help your children stay on task.
3: SECURE A SPACE
However much you’d like to stick your kids in one place of your choice, we suggest that you allow your learner the freedom to choose how he or she would prefer to work. Make a standing desk out of the counter, or let your learner sit on the floor using the coffee table as a desk. While TV is recommended to be in off-mode, play some soft music in the background. It is key to create a structured working space for your child that is free from clutter.
4: GET MOVING
Though curfews and lockdown guidelines may be in place, try to structure time into the daily schedule to get outside. As long as your children aren’t immunocompromised, try trampolining, bike riding, walking, or anything to get your kids active. It’s springtime, a great time to encourage and promote healthy outside activity.
5: CALL ON CREATIVITY
Activity/Creativity time is another great time to schedule. This can include coding through apps, taking on an arts and crafts project, coloring, mapping a walking path and more. There’s no limit to what your child can imagine! Need ideas? YouTube is loaded with videos of teachers sharing easy-to-do projects and creative activities.
6: PEN IN TIME FOR PLAY
While running around the yard and creativity time is certainly fun, play can also include educational board games or computer games. For those parents of the ’80s, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego can even be played through Google Earth now. Kahoot! is a fun and engaging way to prepare for an assessment or brush up on skills. There are endless fun and free educational apps and downloads out there. Take part in game time, and brush up on your skills, too!
7: EMBRACE CONNECTIVITY
Connectivity is a digital connection to the outside world and each other. We may have to stay at home, but we can still connect to our friends and loved ones via FaceTime, Skype, Duo, and ZOOM. Or, virtually travel and visit museums, zoos, amusement parks, and exciting places all over the world. Take advantage of this amazing time and ask your kids to tell you about their travels and what they learned.
8: BEAUTIFY AND BUILD COMMUNITY
Sidewalk chalk has never been so popular. Kids everywhere are writing and sharing chalk-written words of encouragement. Neighbors are checking up on elderly neighbors using a color-coded paper system in the window. A school district in upstate New York did a car parade through the community to share good vibes. People all over the world are participating in window bear hunts. Ask your children what they could do to beautify their community. There’s no better time to plant love and be the change we wish to see in the world.
9: TAKE TIME TO DISCONNECT
As much as this is a time to embrace technology, it is also time to enjoy each other’s company. To take a break from your screens and talk with each other. Put away the cell phones at night while watching TV with the family. Play board games. Do story time. Let’s digitally unplug and take advantage of this rare opportunity to connect with each other.
10: ROUTINIZE REFLECTION
This is a time to be grateful – not hateful. Practice gratitude and ask questions that push your children to reflect on the day and their actions. Make it a habit to discuss highs and lows of the day.
- What could you do differently to make tomorrow an even better day?
- How did you use your time to the best of your ability?
Creating a platform for routine discussion and reflection lets kids share how they feel, and allows them to grow. Reflection is key to becoming a stronger, more adaptive, and involved person. I’m sure you’ll be surprised at the depth of reflection your kids share. Feel free to jump in and reflect with them, too!
We can find solace in knowing we are all weathering this storm together
While teachers, parents, and learners alike are all eager for school campuses to re-open, this time is also an opportunity for parents to reevaluate and reprioritize their children’s learning experiences.
Hopefully, you’ve found some tips and tricks above to keep them motivated. Be sure to check out social media and continue to share ideas on what’s working for your learners. In doing so, we all remain strong, healthy, and, just as importantly, sane.
Katelyn M. Forcucci, MEd, EdS., is the Director of Education at NorvaNivel USA LP. She spent ten years teaching high school English. She has taught: 7-12 graders in Cambridge, Intensive, Honors, and regular English classes as well as Creative Writing and Regents Prep. Katelyn started her teaching career in Upstate New York where she received her tenure. She taught 9 Honors, Cambridge, and 12 grade College Prep English in Florida. She has taught in affluent, rural, and urban settings. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the State University of New York at Fredonia, a Master’s in Gifted Education and Differentiated Instruction from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, and an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from National Louis University. Katelyn has served on the Superintendent’s Steering Committee, and has been the Cambridge Coordinator, English Department Chair, Class Advisor, Testing Coordinator, Acting Administrator, and Yearbook Advisor. She recently served as an Education Specialist on the Innovations Team for Charter Schools USA.