Guest Column: A teacher on managing with kids at home during COVID-19

By Lisa Levitan

While this is a difficult and uncertain time for everyone, we need to remember that our adult reactions have a huge impact on our children.

Here are my suggestions on how you will keep your home as positive as possible during this difficult time:

  • Watch the News WITHOUT your children. Try to keep COVID-19 discussions to a minimum. Panicked children can come out in all forms of behaviour. The calmer everyone is, the healthier they’ll be.
  • Get outside every day. Fresh air helps everyone stay stimulated and reduces anxiety. Trust me – indoor recess days are not fun at school.
  • Children LOVE to helping with “adult jobs.” Whether it’s vacuuming, washing windows, or organizing ANYTHING – they love it! Get to know your child. Talk to them. Use this time to teach your them to cook, how to pump a car with gas, or how to do the laundry. The list is endless and they’ll love being your “special helper” while spending quality time with YOU.
  • Children should wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. It’s all about routine. If they’re in the habit of waking up earlier than you’d like, give them a digital clock and a book. Tell them not to leave their room until it shows 7:00.
  • KEEP A DAILY ROUTINE. Get up, eat breakfast, and start your day. This will mimic school and keep your children calm while knowing what to expect. Children thrive on routine and consistency. This will also give you control over the structure of your day. Create a daily schedule and post it on the wall at your children’s eye level. This is a working document and nothing is set in stone if an activity takes longer than expected. Make your children a part of the process. For children who can’t tell time, have them turn over each activity sheet once it’s finished so they know where they are in their day. Have a weekly family meeting, asking your children what they would like to do and learn this week. You’d be surprised at some of their creative but simple ideas. Google “at-home schedules for kids” in the “imaged” section for ideas. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel. 

Above all else, dearest parents, take a deep breath and give yourself a break. You’re doing great, and nothing about this is easy. You’ve never been confined to your home with your children. There’s no camp, no vacations, and no community activities. So, what can you do? The way I see it, you have two options: you can stress out and shove your children in front of screens all day OR you can be proactive and make the best of this situation: making lemonade out of lemons EVERY SINGLE DAY.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

Lisa's online resource suggestions for Learning @ Home – My student’s favourite website. Teaching you how to draw everything from your favorite characters to more complex beautiful landscapes. The Father (artist) does it with his kids ages 3-20. Amazing for adults too. Not only drawing. Click on any tab to see other options. Will keep you busy for hours and it’s a blast! – Scholastic has created a “learn at home” project here children participate in daily projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing. Every day includes four separate learning experiences, each built around a thrilling, meaningful story or video. Kids can do them on their own, with their families, or with their teachers. Just find your grade level and let the learning begin! – Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems! If you don’t know his books, you MUST. Ages 2-8. – Cosmic Yoga for Kids. Favourite yoga and meditation site for kids. Here’s just one of numerous episodes. – Can’t go wrong with GoNoodle’s mindful and movement exercises. – BrainPop offers great educational and fun exercises. – The best math games for kids of all ages. – Fun Brain is an interactive and educational website of fun and learning. – Best site for English Reading practice – levelled. – Best online French app for French reading practice. – Thousands of videos, websites or mobile apps for all topics! – French games for kids. – Educational videos, TV shows, etc., in French.