Although the precautionary measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus and COVID-19 are efforts to protect the community, the notification of your child’s school closing may have landed like one of your worst nightmares. Children thrive on routine and predictability, both of which are in short supply right now for families across the country and well beyond. Despite the uncertainty in the community, you still can try to foster an environment that includes as much routine and predictability as possible. Below are some tips to manage children’s increased time at home.
Before offering some tips on how to manage the day-to-day, my first suggestion is to validate both your and your children’s experiences. Validation acknowledges how a person is feeling without agreeing or disagreeing. It shows children and adults that they are heard and helps them manage their emotions.
Acknowledge for your children that it may frustrating, disappointing, and sad that activities have been canceled or postponed. It also may be worrisome and stressful because none of us are sure when the return to more typical routines will happen. Let your children know that it is okay to have these feelings, and the family is going to do its best to make the most of these changes. Using “and” rather than “but” accepts both thoughts.
Like your children, you also deserve validation. These changes have likely turned your world upside down without sufficient time to prepare. You can feel exasperated and worried even when you’re trying to make the most of these experiences.
Keep a consistent schedule
It may not seem like a certainty right now, but schools will reopen at some point, perhaps sooner in some communities than in others. Sticking with a routine similar to the one practiced for typical school days will help make any return to school smoother, as well as give shape to each day. Try to keep your children’s morning and bedtime routines the same as if they were preparing for school. Keeping meal times the same also can help.
Create a daily schedule that is structured for your children. You can foster a sense of collaboration and control for them by creating a list of activities and allowing your children to pick when they happen. For example, your children can pick during which hour-long blocks of time they do math work, science work, reading, etc.
Be creative with electives. Perhaps children can do a craft during art time, write a song that lasts 20 seconds to sing for future hand-washing for music, see how many jumping jacks they can do or choreograph a