Written by Jenna Srigley with contributions from Julie Diamond
Why not start off by having a family meeting? You can all share your feelings, thoughts and ideas on what you all would like to accomplish during this time off. Giving your kids their own voice to suggest things, and share their thoughts, makes them feel that their opinions are valued. You are working together as a family to help each other accomplish things and create structure for everyone. I like to create daily routines as I find it helps things run smoothly. However, I have learned to accept that things will not always go smoothly especially if everyone is at home and/or feeling anxious. Talk about potential conflicts and discuss ways to communicate and solve them as a family. Here is the schedule that my family and I decided on that might be a useful guide for you over this break:
Have everyone dressed and ready for the day no later than 10am. I know this may seem late but giving your kids that time to ease into the day makes the day go smoother. Your kids may likely be feeling a lot of mixed emotions given the current pandemic so it’s important to give them this time to relax, sleep in and, if they want, some alone time.
10am-12 Learning Time - Use this time to focus on learning. Independent projects on things they are interested in keep them engaged. I had my 12-year-old start a Science project on video games. This link gave me some ideas:
Here are some other resources:
The new website released today by the Ontario government
(for those parents in Ontario): https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home
12:00-1:00 Lunch - Eat together as a family. Cooking and eating together can be a great opportunity to check in and bond.
1:00-1:30 Get Active - This is super important! Get up and do a workout using YouTube. There are loads of workout for kids. My family and I also use Nike Training App which is a great workout for teens and adults. Or when the weather cooperates, we opt to go for a walk. Break a sweat together and have fun.
1:30:2:00 Mindfulness - Try some activities to ease them into the afternoon after lunch which is an effective way to transition you and your kids into the afternoon. Doing these activities daily, even just 10 minutes, can help your child in so many ways. It teaches them ways to slow down and focus. You can see Julie’s blog below: "The Benefits of Mindfulness and Tips to Teach Your Child at Home" for some ideas. Here is another great link I like to use with my kids:
2:00-2:30pm Writing – This gives them the freedom to have an outlet to let it out. Depending on your child’s interests, you can opt for them to write (I’m currently teaching my kids cursive writing!) or incorporate art into it. Here are some creative journal prompts from Write Shop that I use:
It’s important to incorporate your child’s interests into the activities. My kids love video games (as so many other kids these days) so I had them create their own video game and they made the instructions booklet.
2:30-3:00 Snack - Take a break and fuel up!
3:00-3:30 Chores - My family and I have a chore wheel which switches up the chores and makes it fair across the board. This prevents any arguing.
3:30-4:30 Reading - Wrap up the day by reading a book of their choice. Depending on their ages, you may want to switch up with you reading together, taking turns reading (we like to use different voices), or independent reading. Here is a list of books for different ages: https://k-12readinglist.com/
In the evenings, we have been trying an hour without any devices and playing board games and/or doing other things together. I’ll admit it’s challenging not to look at my phone for a whole hour but I do recommend giving it a try! An hour without checking the news, especially nowadays, has been refreshing.
These are just some examples to ensure this time at home is positive. Creating a routine focused on mental and physical health can go a long way in keeping everyone calm, happy and stress free.
Share in the comments what you’re doing with your kids at home.
Julie Diamond is a certified teacher in Canada and the founder of Teachers to Go.