How to have a fabulous, productive and winning day with kids at home doing distance-learning? It ain’t easy, but these to-do’s have helped us here like magic (as seen on Fox 11 Los Angeles’ Good Day LA):
1) YES TO SCHEDULE! Schedules create consistency kids need & foster feelings of productivity (for kids & parents). Start each day “officially” — Pledge of Allegiance, prayer, a few goals for the day (whatever your family values). We start at 10am and finish ‘school work’ at 2pm at my house — includes prayer/pledge, lunch, silent reading, writing assignments/links & math worksheets (that teachers send) PLUS life skill enrichment (cooking, making beds), recess (45 minutes), etc. For toddlers, create a ‘list’ of FUN to-do’s for the next day with activities & treats to look forward to — snack time after puzzles, screentime after art, run around like puppies… schedule in FREE PLAY. Schedules help time pass. Kids love feeling like they’re in control (notice I said ‘feeling like’ lol).
2) PICK THE (JUNK) FOOD! My girls are asking for snacks (cookies! candy! gum! chips!) NONSTOP. Fill a bin/bucket with snacks for the whole day (kids help pick, make it a game)…. grab snacks from that bin, once it’s out… done. Let them pick the fun stuff and the healthy choices. Gets them into making good choices and also thinking about managing time/life — ie, once you eat those cookies, they’re gone.
3) CRY, SCREAM, REWIND! All of us lose it with patience and feeling anxious — it’s OK. Cry with the kids about how this time is hard, scream with them and tell them you get frustrated with how things are now too. It’s all normal… and the more we normalize ‘feeling bad, but then bouncing up afterwards,’ the healthier we all feel from the inside out. (I’ve sat with my girls and cried on the floor about missing our family and friends.) THEN, try a “Bloopbloopbloop [rewind audio effect] let’s try that again another way.” Take 3 deep breaths together to ‘start over’ when you need. Teaches mindfulness / patience management.
4) PLAN / LIMIT RECREATIONAL SCREEN-TIME! (DON’T HATE ME ON THIS ONE!) Screens help all of us (yes! use them when we need to keep little occupied during our work time, etc!) just do it in spurts — my girls get 45 minutes in morning, 45 minutes in afternoon (they’re 8 and 9). Sure, sometimes we go over and sometimes I detox us from all electronics during the day. FYI: TV is better than tablet/phone (scientific studies) — less interruptive for brain development (less anxiety inducing, less blue light harm that restricts melatonin for sleep), less pervasive (we can have TV on in room and ask them random questions as they watch to lessen ‘zone out’ effect that creates more anxiety & impatience afterwards. Maintains screen-time habits for long term mental/physical health… because we don’t want to come out of this more anxious than we absolutely need to.
5) BOREDOM IS GOOD! Boredom breeds creativity. Ask any psychologist. Let the kids whine as much as they want, tell them to find something to do OR ELSE. 10 minutes later, you’ll find them doing something fun…. Teaches self-leadership & self-sufficiency.
BONUS! SET THE DAILY BAR LOW. Don’t tackle too much in one day! If I make my bed (my girls too) the day is a success.
EXTRA BONUS! THE FAMILY IS A TEAM. Celebrate end of each day with “We did it together again today!” Go to bed with sense of accomplishment.