Stuck at home

Learning at home doesn't have to be just worksheets and whining.

The moment when Gov. DeWine shut down Ohio schools for three weeks in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, I felt a melange of emotions. I was proud of our state’s proactive response, fearful about the seriousness of the situation and concerned about the impact of the closure on not only the economy but the families who would struggle in response. There are so many complex layers to the situation we all find ourselves in, and the stress is palpable.

As a working parent with three children, I’m also grieving the weeks of school and childcare lost as we work to prevent the spread of this pandemic to our region.

Our children are getting an incredible education in their classrooms, they love the time spent with friends throughout the day, and the resources available to them at school and day care. Being home for the next several weeks is going to require a quick and intentional change in routine for everyone.

Moments of crisis can present a distinct opportunity, however, to be creative and break out of our box. In response to social distancing, many companies have made resources available to families and educators to ensure that students have access to quality tools. We, as parents, have a chance to make our homes a space for creative and interactive learning and to partner alongside our children as they educate in a unique and historic moment. 

Here are just some of the resources and tools that may prove helpful to all of us as we find a new rhythm amidst social distancing:

Daily Activity Chart

Children need structure in the absence of the school day routine. In our home, each day we’re going to make sure our children get dressed and ready for the day. Then, they’ll each have a daily activity chart to complete throughout the day. This will ensure they get their schoolwork done and have some structure in their day, but also lends flexibility from a rigid schedule. Our chart will include time spent on reading, math, writing, science, art, music and physical activity. When all activities have been accomplished, our children will be rewarded with a treat of their choice and leisure time to spend however they like.

Educational Resources

I’m amazed at the number of educational resources cropping up online for educating kids at home. Homeschool parents and educational companies have risen up and shared the wealth in a magnificent way (thank you!). Our family made the decision to pick up an inexpensive (less than $100) Chromebook for our children to share to access some of these resources during their time at home. Two resources we’re certainly going to be utilizing are Scholastic’s Learn at Home curriculum and Mystery Science’s science lessons, but there are hundreds of resources catalogued at AmazingEducationalResources.com.

Sing Together

One of our favorite activities as a family is living room karaoke. We simply pull up the Sing King YouTube channel and take turns picking the song, and it’s a total blast. Our kids dance it out, we laugh and belt out Disney’s greatest hits or songs that our kids think are from the olden days (the nineties). It’s free, it’s fun and you don’t have to leave your living room.

Messenger Kids

We have allowed our children to use the Facebook Messenger Kids app for almost a year, and I have to say, I’m impressed. The app allows our kids to video chat, send audio messages, photos and texts back and forth with only the contacts we select for them that mutually agree, within the hours that we allow. So, our children are able to regularly talk with their grandparents, out of town aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as a small handful of friends. I’m extra grateful for this app during their time at home, as it will help them to stay connected virtually without risking exposure.

Virtual Arts Experiences

We love to experience the performing and fine arts with our children, attending shows and visiting museums whenever we can squeeze it in. Luckily, even though we’re stuck at home, we don’t necessarily have to give up that opportunity. Dozens of museums offer online virtual tours, and the Metropolitan Opera will be offering a nightly opera livestream that we’ll definitely tune in for at least a few times!

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Colleen Cook works full-time as the Director of Operations at Vinyl Marketing in Ashland, where she resides with her husband Mike and three young daughters. She's an insatiable extrovert who enjoys finding reasons to gather people.