What to do now that the kids are home? Some suggestions for parents

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After the school closures that went into effect on March 16, students are home. Team sports and after-school classes have ceased. Camps and some daycares are not available. Many parents and guardians have been directed to work from home. So the question is, what do we do now? This situation is new for all school districts across Washington state, and districts are putting together action plans for their students. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions.

Create a schedule that includes movement, concentration, problem solving, exploration and free time. Include time for lunch and breaks. When scheduling an activity that requires high concentration for a prolonged period of time, schedule a cardio activity right before. Studies have shown that students are better able to retain information and concentrate after prolonged cardio activity. In the morning, go over the day’s schedule with your child. Give your child choices within the schedule – that way they can develop ownership and are more motivated.

What can a student do from home? This is a great time to work on filling in the gaps. If your younger child has difficulty with multiplication tables, fractions, addition, subtraction or reading a clock, this is a great time to really focus on their understanding. There are many math resources on your school district’s website and elsewhere online.

This is also a great time to work on a student’s reading skills. Books are available to download for free off the Whatcom County Library System’s website, wcls.org. Finding the time to work on reading skills can be a challenge with a parent or guardian working from home. However, a child can read with a sibling or they could read over the phone or via Skype with a grandparent or other relative. Parents can also create reading groups on platforms like Zoom. For example, all participants tune into a Zoom meeting and parents take turns reading each day. For older students who are reading independently, discussing the book with a parent or guardian is a supportive habit that can help foster understanding and comprehension. Students can also work on their writing skills through journaling and writing letters or stories.

Students can also explore areas of interest as well, such as art, history, literature, science, mathematics and more. Have them select an area of interest and help guide them to websites they can explore. Teacher and student resources are available at most museums’ websites and some provide virtual tours. Recently, Google partnered with many of the world’s most famous museums to create a platform for folks to look at various collections (artsandculture.google.com).

Career development is another activity that gives older students an opportunity to explore interests, set goals and become inspired. Once they discover an interest, for example Formula 1 race car driving, they can discover that reading, math, history and science are all components that they need to learn to do the job well. A great website is careeronestop.org.

Finally, this is an unusual time in history, so having your child journal their observations, thoughts and questions can give them a sense of control in a time of turmoil. They may even come up with an idea or two that can help their local community. With support, they can pinpoint a problem, create a plan and find support.

Kristin Siemion, who works in advertising sales for The Northern Light, was a teacher at Bellingham’s St. Paul’s Academy, now known as Franklin Academy, for 14 years.

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