We are all feeling tired and worn from the isolation. Many of us have been locked down for 8 weeks now and our new family routines are hard to sustain much longer. It isn’t over yet, but we are starting to see optimistic reports from New Zealand and Vietnam, which gives me hope.
What can you do to make it easier on yourself and your kids?
First, relax. Don’t worry that your kids are falling behind. All kids are “behind” in their learning. What does being behind really mean? Does it mean missing out on memorizing random facts? Isn’t that what most of school is anyway? Kids will forget these facts if they never see their relevance in the real world. We can help our kids learn skills that will stay with them for life.
The Summer Slide can have negative effects if kids regress in their reading skills, but it doesn't have to. Have your kids read an hour per day from books, magazines, or articles. Let them pick what they want to read. If they just won’t read full stop, try having them listen to podcasts or audiobooks. There are many free stories on Audible to choose from.
How else can you weave in learning enrichment at home?
Devote 2-3 hours on the weekend to play board or card games. Board games teach kids skills for life and require analytical thinking. Kids can play with each other or with you. Board games involve face to face social interaction and introduce kids to winning and losing. Previously game nights may have been a luxury, but now with more time at home there’s no reason not to set up a weekly game night.
If you’re not sure where to start, try the classics: Monopoly, Clue, Life, checkers and chess. You don’t need a ton of games, just a few that your kids like. If they don’t like these, no problem. Let them do a search and propose a game.
Card games are also a great way to teach strategy, critical thinking, collaboration and how to win and lose. The advantage of card games is they just require a pack of cards. It is inexpensive, portable and fun! Instructions for the most popular card games like bridge and gin rummy can all be found on YouTube!
Part of this process is having kids find, pick, order (if necessary), and learn how to play the game of their choice. Learning is nested in this process. How to search online, read, follow instructions, and evaluate choices. This is how you make kids into independent learners; provide them choice and give them your trust.
Let your kids be in charge of meal planning for the week. This is a big responsibility: finding recipes, writing grocery lists, grocery shopping, and budgeting, This involves critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, math, and reading skills. It is a great way to get kids involved in the responsibilities of running a household. If you want to make it an even bigger project, have them also make the meals for the week.
One of the best ways to learn to cook is YouTube videos. There are thousands of short videos showing you how to cook everything from breakfast, dinner and snacks. If you want to cut the project down, you can ask them to just plan the desserts for the week. Then the following week, you could ask them to plan the lunches. By breaking it down, you can find projects for each of your children or ease them into the responsibility.
Playing games and meal planning are so important. They take care of your body and your soul. For an even longer list of everyday activities that promote learning, checkout the below infographic for more ideas: