A few days ago, I posted 10 creative activities you can use to keep kids occupied during the school hiatus. With the COVID-19 pandemic among us, many families are grappling with working from home, homeschooling, entertaining their kids, and a slew of other roles. Given the role playing, it can be difficult to devote even half an hour to create a schedule. I thought I’d share my version of a realistic schedule for kids during COVID-19 school closure and explain how I’ve incorporated activities into his daily routine. I hope it will spark ideas of your own or just reassure you that you are not alone in this ordeal.
Durations vs. Timeslots
I opted to use durations rather than rigid timeslots in my schedule. If you read my 10 Creative Activities for Kids During COVID-19 post, you are well aware both hubby and I are now working from home and consumed by meetings throughout the day. Working with a 4 year old requires you to sit with them and guide the learning. That doesn’t give us the flexibility to dedicate 10 am to Math or 1 pm to Writing for example.
Instead, I’ve used “ideal durations” based on his attention span and how long I think it still remains fun for him. This way I can devote blocks of time here and there throughout the day that accommodate my work schedule.
Keep sessions short
For the lesson based activities like handwriting, math and reading I’ve kept them short at 30 minutes. My son is usually eager about learning, but as with most 4 year olds his attention span is like a flea. I don’t want to risk these sessions becoming boring, overwhelming or viewed as “a chore” instead of a fun learning experience.
Use as a guide not the holy grail
Having said that, even with the durations in place, the “schedule” is fluid. I won’t sit here and pretend to be a supermom that is getting it all done! To be honest, I refuse to feel guilty or make my situation more stressful by mandating I hit every target. Given the current climate, I do my best and forget the rest. Substitutions are real and synchronicity ad-hoc. Some days, I even omit activities depending on the day’s demands or my son’s temperament.
For instance, yesterday he was exceptionally tired after not sleeping well the previous night, so we didn’t get to the math. He also didn’t complete his fuse bead activity till the evening even though it was intended to be done in the morning – that’s completely ok.
All that to reiterate this schedule is not meant to be a strict regimented hour by hour or minute by minute. Depending on your kid, your work day and a million other factors, adjustments may be needed. Use it as a guide rather than the holy grail.
So what exactly do these activities entail?
For the handwriting, I came up with a list of sentences for him to practice writing. He does two sentences each session (anything more and I realised he gets fidgety and fussy). At his age (4), school focuses on printing, so my sentences introduce both uppercase and lowercase letters in the same sentence (like in the real world).
Thank God for online libraries. I didn’t get to the library before the COVID-imposed shutdowns so I’ve been using our local library’s online app to download books for my son. I was quite impressed with the selection and the fact that many of them include narration. He’s been whizzing through them and is now able to read the book and return it online so someone else can read it. Next step is to teach him how to browse the library and select books that interest him.
For Math the focus is simple addition. I didn’t come up with any questions, instead we decided to use a combination of his activity book and a book called Brain Boosters Adding And Subtracting Activity Book that he received from his Nana. The Brain Boosters book is beautifully illustrated with bright colours and pictures to capture kids’ attention. He does 1 – 2 math activities per day depending on how long or complicated they are.
You’ll notice that there are only 2 days where TV is scheduled – that is intentional. I don’t mind him watching tv per se – heck I sure watched a great deal in my childhood and I think I’m ok, but I take issue with endless mindless TV. Some of the characters in kid-geared shows exhibit questionable behaviours and without proper explanation, he might think it’s ok to behave that way.
Sure, sometimes you watch shows purely for entertainment, but at age 4, I want to limit the amount of “pure entertainment” he’s getting from TV. I’ve scheduled them toward the end of the day 1) as a motivation for him to get his other activities done and 2) so we would be able to sit and watch with him in the event that we need to explain why something was appropriate or inappropriate.
He looks forward to his TV days and has already requested Lion King for this week. Quite a ‘dark’ movie when you think about it, but certainly introduces the grim reality that there are people among us whose jealousy can propel them to perform horrific acts. Sadly, things our kids need to think about.
You don’t want everything to appear as “work”. Free Play allows him to choose what he wants to do (once it does not include TV). He has free will to play with any toy whether educational or not.
Discuss This! is my term for a chat – an opportunity to talk. It could be about anything under the sun and usually my son is the one guiding the topic. Yesterday’s topic was about dreams where he explained he had a bad dream where I was stung by a bee. It was nice because it gave me an opportunity to hear about his dream, but also encourages him to express his thoughts more coherently, ask questions and get answers. The cherry on the pie was that it also indirectly let me know that he cares and doesn’t want bad things to happen to his mummy.
Paper, crayons, paint and paintbrushes. I just lay them out in front of him and let him decide what he is going to create. This has been fun and I’m always impressed with kids’ ability to creatively express what’s going on in their minds.
I just purchased an activity book with multiple types of activities to keep him engaged. You can check it out in 10 Creative Activities For Kids During COVID-19 post.
Kids love making treats. Mine is no exception, so I’ve set aside some time for us to craft up something tasty together. Our baking normally includes cakes and cookies, but we ran out of bread earlier in the week so his request this week is for us to make bread. I’ll be hunting around looking for a good bread recipe today so if you have one please share!
Duolingo is an app to help you learn a new language and I’ve been using it to brush up on my Spanish. My son seems to love it more than me! He’s constantly saying “Let’s do Duolingo mummy!”. Recently I realized there is a kids version so we downloaded it for him. On evenings we sit and go through the lessons. I’m also learning a few things.
Fuse Beads, Osmo, K’NEX, Color-In Submarine
These are fun, educational activities I have been using to augment the other activities throughout the day. You can read all about them in the 10 Creative Activities For Kids During COVID-19.
In these uncertain times, it’s important to reduce stress as much as possible. It’s hard enough dealing with COVID-19, the physical distancing, lockdowns, threat of layoffs, and the immense exhaustion from lack of down time. Having a schedule and not having to worry about what activities can entertain my child is one less thing on my mind.
Left to his own devices, my son’s day would consist entirely of YouTube Kids, Disney Jr. and Fruit Ninja. By having a schedule, at least I am able to direct his learning by pulling from a “bucket of activities” without having to ponder what he should be doing. I am a smidge more relaxed, he is occupied and everyone is one step closer to getting through this with their sanity intact.
Are Using a Realistic Schedule for Kids During COVID-19?
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