By all accounts, the word “normal” seems to be a thing of the past. Our new reality of self-isolation brings with it enormous challenges on a personal and interpersonal level.
When we raise children, a routine is incredibly important for their developmental well-being. It creates safety, knowledge of what is expected and a sense of self-reliance. Routine is different from a schedule and in these times, it’s essential to be really flexible as emotions are running high.
Our anxiety can take a form of enforced structure to bring order to our inner tensions. Understandable though that children are out of school, missing valuable instruction. With a little bit of preparation, we can create an environment that will be stimulating for children in keeping with a routine.
Although the children don’t have formal classes to continue education and nobody is really sure when we will be able to send them back, we can still use this time for valuable skill-building.
A friend of mine has two teenage daughters. They’ve taken up cooking lessons online and learning how to crochet. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, however learning how to cook, do basic sewing, mending of clothing is a valuable life-skill. In our home, we’ve replaced early morning screentime with quiet time, listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks. The libraries are closed so this is an excellent way to increase knowledge with must-read (or listen) books.
We’ve listed a couple of ideas on creating an environment on how to stay within the routine for elementary children:
Set up a permanent workspace
Even if it’s a tiny space in a corner somewhere, a permanent space is reflective of what a school classroom would look like. Ask your kids to decorate their space with art or a map or anything that will give it a personal touch.
Ask their input
Create a worksheet with columns for math, English, (second language), science, history and physical activity. Ask them what they would like to learn more about. This increases their participation because the children had input, but also makes it easier for the caregiver to decide on topics for the week. Every day they complete a section, colour it in. Add a reward at the end of the week that is achievable and easy to give, for example, a movie or extra playtime.
Increase non-school skills
Look around your home, is there anything that needs to be fixed? Is it appropriate to ask your child to help you? Keeping safety in mind, stay away from potential dangers. Fixing a broken toy or explaining how to change a lightbulb, these might be the best lessons that they learn and would otherwise not get the chance to.
Do one thing that’s fun per week (or more if you have the energy and time)
Whether it’s baking cookies for them to decorate, making a family art piece or building that thousand-piece puzzle. Take this opportunity to connect with your children, you might end up forgetting the chaotic circumstances outside and laugh about the state of the kitchen after everyone had a chance to mix the flour.
Physical activity is still very important
If you ask your children what shows they watch in school, you’ll probably be surprised at the number of online videos available for dance shows and yoga. Going out for a brisk walk, even if you’re working from home is valuable. Getting outside helps everyone to see that the world is still there, although it’s changed, the neighbourhood is still standing, and nature abounds.
Getting dressed every morning, keeping to a relatively regular eating schedule and continuing with known routines - these are some of how we can get through this together.
Keep Journaling, Keep Growing.