Having been a classroom teacher for Pre-K and 3rd grade for a few years, I didn’t fear taking on the task of managing my four kids’ education when the Covid quarantine began. Nor did I get intimidated by the homework assigned by their teachers who suddenly transitioned to virtual learning–I just knew that I had to help my kids keep up their attendance, and help them meet deadlines and expectations.
I knew that the key to making this quarantine work was to run a tight ship: organize their education with structured lessons, stick to a daily schedule, and keep them occupied with at-home educational content for 30 minutes to one hour each day. By doing this day in, day out, I have so far managed my stress very well, and my husband and I never have to worry out loud: what are you doing to keep them busy today?
My daughter Brooklyn, almost 4, has a speech delay issue and she’s at a critical age where she cannot get behind in her reading lessons, so her learning schedule has to be ongoing and regular. This means that she gets up daily at 7:00 am, and goes to school Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 11:30 am. Her daily routine includes reading for one hour, using sight word flash cards for 30 minutes, and using a tablet device on her own for 30 minutes for speech development, phonetics and learning ABCs.
After lesson time ends at 11:30 am, and before lunch, our children play outside on our patio with their water table. This is a great opportunity for us to bond as a family. We also have a strict yet fun bedtime routine, where we sit on a red round rug in their room and practice storytime, and then we play lullaby music for them to sleep. As a family, we eat lunch and dinner at the same time each day.
Our routine allows me and my husband at least 30 minutes of downtime daily. What works best is to give the kids an educational technology game that occupies all their mental energies, and challenges their thinking. We have had a lot of success using Osmo, whose coding kit can be played solo or as a group, so siblings can join in. By being introduced to basic coding concepts, they quickly get engaged in problem-solving and computational thinking, and they can advance at their own pace. Many early childhood education teachers like myself agree that coding helps kids develop creativity and problem-solving skills, which they will use the rest of their lives.
I don’t deviate from our schedule knowing that it could throw us into uncertainty, self-doubt, and questioning ourselves–like many parents do–whether the kids are learning or not, bored, happy, or worse, falling behind in their education. Such thoughts negatively affect our mental health.
With the uncertainty facing school reopenings this fall, most parents will have another opportunity to devise an optimal schedule, and manage their children’s activities with positive educational content.