Stuck at Home? Need to Teach Your Kids? Try these ideas.

It seems imminent that there will be more school closings, and people will be working remotely as the coronavirus continues to spread around the U.S. I hope that it won’t be too bad. I hope that no one else will die. But we have to do everything we can do to slow it down so that our health care services can work to meet the demand.

My son’s regional and state piano auditions have already been postponed, which is unfortunate after all the hard work he’s put into this, but we’re also grateful for the precaution. I won’t be surprised if our other activities are cancelled. Other than this, my husband works from home, and we homeschool our children. I’m the homeschool facilitator. We are in a good position. Other than needing to go to the store, we are equipped to stay home for a long time, if we have to.

But I know plenty of people who are not used to staying home so much, and for some, it will cause a tremendous amount of stress. Not everyone can afford to stock up on food and other supplies. Some people cannot afford to miss work, or they have long-term projects in jeopardy. I wish I could do more to help alleviate these problems, but I’m not in a position to do that. However, I can offer some ideas on what to do when you are stuck at home that might keep you from going stir crazy, especially if you have kids.

First of all, I’m not sure that it’s a good idea to expect kids and families to work at this time. Some people could be quite anxious right now, and they aren’t going to focus very well. However, some people may welcome the extra time to work. People need to figure out the best way of handling their individual situation. If you have kids, it may be a good time to simply spend quality time together doing fun things, and this may lower your stress levels as well. Surely there been times when you wished you had more time to spend with your family? And many activities are educational anyway.

If you think you’re going to have a problem getting your kids to cooperate, my advice is to make everything a family activity. Maybe it won’t work for every kid, but when you are doing things together (vs. telling your kid to go do something), it can be much easier to get kids to cooperate.

Also, try taking turns picking the activity with your kid. You could do things in 30 minute increments. Maybe your kid will pick a video game. Then you can pick that homework lesson they need to do. Or read a book together. Or bake cookies. And then play a video game again. Making it all fun is key.

Here are a few activities you might want to look into as well:

With Young Kids (or any age, really)

You don’t need any special supplies, if you have a good imagination, and staying at home and letting kids do their own thing for a while is very good for their brain development. You will also have more time to bond with your child, which is always a good thing. To pass the hours:

Storytelling. You may think you’re a terrible storyteller and could never do this, but you will be surprised, if you just try. Have your child pick a character and then follow this formula, which is from Tell Me a Story by Chase Collins:

  • There was a likeable hero
  • who had reason to set out on a journey
  • when a threat occurred
  • from which there was a hero-inspired way out
  • which resulted in a safe return and a happy ending.

If you get stuck, ask for your children’s help. Maybe your children will even come up with a story of their own! You will be fostering their imaginations, and helping them with language arts skills.

Get Crafty. Recycle cereal boxes to make things. With some scissors, glue and tape, you can make almost anything with cereal boxes. If you have some markers or paint on hand, you can decorate them too. Click here for some ideas from my son’s projects

Storytelling and Puppet Shows. Combine the cereal box crafts and storytelling by making puppets and putting on puppet shows of your favorite stories. Click here for my post about that.

With Older Kids (or any age, really)

Nature Studies. No matter where you live, there is nature happening outside your windows. Have you tried to identify what you see? Here are some sites that will help you with identification:

All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Plant Identification Links by BudBurst
Insect Identification (for North America)

Books. If you don’t have a big home library or don’t want to go to the library right now, there are a lot free resources on web that will give you plenty of reading material. No matter how old your kids are, they might enjoy a family read aloud.

Project Gutenberg: Free eBooks : You will find the world’s great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired.
Open Library: Open Library is an open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published.
The Literature Network: over 3500 full books and over 4400 short stories and poems by over 260 authors (Although this free site has a bunch of ads, you can use your reader view to have a more pleasant reading experience.)

Documentaries. We’ve been watching documentaries or other educational shows with our kids everyday at lunchtime since they were born (literally). We usually watch 30-45 minutes at a time and continue it the next day. I know documentaries aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you may be surprised at what kids will get into, if all the family joins in. I have a kept a list of most of the programs we’ve watched in a Pinterest board, but you can find documentaries easily by searching on Netflix, Amazon Prime or any other streaming service.

Other Random Ideas for Anybody

Someone beat me to it, but I’m glad because you can read this article by Travel and Leisure to get links to 12 Museums From Around the World That You Can Visit Virtually.

Also, here are a few topics I’ve written about…

Start a Sketchbook Habit.
Board Games.
Yard Projects that the whole family can help with.
Digital Games — I have no problem with these as long as kids don’t use them all day long.

Resources for School Subjects

For little kids learning to read, there’s Starfall.com. My boys loved that.

Of course, there’s Khan Academy, which has many subjects. We use it for math. But we also love Mathantics.com.

For history, I made a post with several resources that would be good for older kids. But Ducksters.com is fun for the younger crowd, and it has much more than history too. You can find science and geography there too.

My son also uses some free science textbooks at CK12.org, and that site offers resources for all subjects as well.

My kids are musicians, and we love classical music (all kinds of music, really), so I must mention that YouTube.com is a great place to experience all kinds of classical music. For world class music, check out the videos from the Curtis Institute of Music.

If I can think of anything else, I’ll be sure to add it here, so check back later. Feel free to leave any ideas and resources in the comments section too!

Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. I wish you all good health.

2 thoughts on “Stuck at Home? Need to Teach Your Kids? Try these ideas.

Part of the reason I keep a blog is because being a stay-at-home mom can be lonely! So please reach out with a message, if you have a question or would like to chat. I usually write back within 24 hours, but please be patient.

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