The COVID-19 pandemic has already caused a lot of disruption in our lives. Parents of young children and school-age kids face a particularly challenging time. Residents in the Greater Sacramento region are ordered to shelter in place. A lot of us are working from home. Many area schools closed on March 16, and the next day, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that most schools in the state are likely to remain closed through the summer break.
That leaves parents of young and school-age children having to juggle work responsibilities and keeping kids occupied for what is likely to be months.
But SAFE is here to help! We’ve put together a list of resources, things to do, and ways to keep your children learning, feeling secure – and helping parents keep their sanity.
How to talk to your kids about COVID 19
It’s important to stick to the facts and explain them in a way your child can understand without instilling additional fear or anxiety. Here are some things to consider, according to kidshealth.org
- Follow your children’s lead in what they want to talk about. Don’t push it if they’re not interested. Don’t offer more detail than they’re interested in.
- If you don’t know the answer, tell them so and use this as a chance to find the answer together. Visit the Centers for Disease Control website and other official sources for the latest, most accurate information.
- Speak calmly and reassuringly. Give them space to share their fears.
- Monitor where they’re getting their information and ensure that it’s age appropriate.
- Help them feel in control by explaining actions they can take to reduce risk of exposure and maintain good health such as washing their hands, eating right, and getting exercise.
- Let them know it’s normal to be stressed out. Talking about it will help them build resilience.
- Find ways for children to connect with older relatives through Skype or Facetim
How to protect children’s mental health
This is a scary time for everyone, and kids can be more sensitive to the stress, strain, and restrictions related to COVID-19. As the weeks of 24/7 close family time progress, nerves are likely to fray. Your kids are likely to get angry, anxious, and act out. (And you may be too!) Realize that this is normal and to be expected.
To help them and you cope, reassure them that everything will be OK and explore activities that promote their physical and mental wellbeing.
- Take time to talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
- Reassure your children that they are safe. Let them know it is OK if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
- Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
- Try to keep up with regular routines. Create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
- Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program, consider asking those professionals for ways you and your children can get through this in a healthy manner.
How to set up a schedule
You’ve probably seen the colorful graphic on social media of the COVID-19 Daily Schedule created by photographer Jessica McHale. It lays out times for physical, learning, and outdoor activities as well as chores that include disinfecting commonly used surfaces. While your schedule may be different, it’s important to make one and stick to it. Post it in a visible place for easy reference. This will frame the day so everyone knows when to expect to be learning, when breaks are, and when to get active.
How to keep their brains learning
Some schools may be offering distant learning. But if it falls to you as the parent to find ways to oversee your children’s education over the next few months, here are some helpful resources.
PBS is offering free resources for kids 2-8 that include educational videos, games, and tips for parents.
- PBS KIDS Games App
Includes nearly 200 educational games, which can be downloaded for offline play anytime, anywhere. Learn more about this and PBS KIDS’ other apps at pbskids.org/apps.
- PBS KIDS for Parents
A robust website with information, activities and tips for parents, including resources for talking with kids about coronavirus, encouraging healthy habits, managing worried feelings and supporting playful learning at home.
- PBS KIDS Daily Newsletter
A new weekday newsletter with videos, games, related offline activities and tips parents can use to keep their children playing and learning at home. Sign up here.
There are a large number of home-schooling sites for students K-12 offering worksheets, educational games, lessons, and more.
123 Homeschool4me: Get printable worksheets.
All Kids Network: Get worksheets, craft ideas, printable dot to dot, hidden pictures and more.
Animals are amazing: Learn all about animals from the Switcheroo Zoo.
Ascend Math: Ascend Math offers math instruction for kindergarten to 12th-grade students. The platform will be free until the end of April.
Beaverton School District: Math, reading, and many other activities for students pre-K through 12th grade.
Bedtime Math: See math as part of your child’s daily routine.
BeeLine Reader: BeeLine Reader helps students of all ages and skill levels improve their reading skills.
Belouga: Get a free account for K-12th grade students for resources such as math problems and social science videos.
Big History Project: Get free access to a social studies course.
BlocksCAD: Build math and computer science skills by using specialized 3D CAD (computer-aided drafting) software.
BrainPOP: Want to make a movie? BrainPOP lets students make movies out of images, build maps, and develop their block-based coding skills. BrainPOP focuses on K-12th grade children.
Classroom cereal: Work on your grammar by learning to proofread short stories.
Club Oasis: A free STEM club offers DYI STEM labs, live classes, coding lessons and live pop-ups.
Crash Course: Courses in sociology, computer science, film history and mythology are offered for starters.
Desmos: Students can use online tools to visualize math problems, create interactive tutorials and play math games with kids from all over the world.
Discovery K-12: Pre-K to 12th-grade lessons and activities in these areas: language arts, reading, math, science, history/social studies, performing arts and physical education.
Dr. Seuss to the rescue: Who doesn’t want to read and play games with Dr. Seuss?
DuckDuckMoose: An app for tablets for preschool to kindergarten students.
Duolingo: Learn a new language while you are stuck at home.
Fun Brain: Activities, games, reading and more are available for grades pre-K through eighth grade.
Giant list of Ideas for being home with kids: It is a pretty giant list of all kinds of ideas for kids to do from art projects to making ice cream to gardening.
Go to the museum, virtually: Get a virtual tour of 12 museums.
Going for the record: The folks at Guinness World Records have some ideas for kids who want to be record setters.
GoNoodle: Games to get your child moving.
Into the Book: Elementary school students can practice reading comprehension.
Into the Map: For the world traveler, a way to create maps and explore the world’s geography.
It’s Epic: The Epic! reading app is free to parents for the rest of the school year if you can get a digital invitation from a teacher or school librarian. They can sign up free to provide access to their students.
KiwiCo: KiwiCo “helps kids think big and act like creators and producers instead of just consumers” Great activities and DYI science projects.
Little Twisters Yoga & Emotional Wellness: Don’t forget your child’s emotional health. What about yoga?
Mathcelebrity.com: Check your math with Mathcelebrity.com.
Minecraft Education Edition: If you like coding, math and problem-solving try Minecraft way.
Mystery Science: Video lessons science lessons that will inspire kids to explore our world.
NaNoWriMo: If your child is looking to write the Great American Novel, here’s a website for you.
National Geographic for Kids: Look for games, videos, lessons and “cool stuff.”
New American History: Learn from history materials aimed at grades 4 and up.
ProjectGutenberg: A free library where kids can download or read online more than 60,000 free eBooks.
Readworks.org: Reading comprehension is the goal of Readworks.
Scholastic Learn at Home: Scholastic Magazine is offering four learning experiences each day.
Science Friday: Elementary to high school students can get lessons in physics, chemistry, earth science and biology.
Star Fall: Math, reading, art and music is available for students in kindergarten through third grade.
The FAB Lab: Watch STEM videos with Crazy Aunt Lindsey.
Toy Theater: A fun website with math, art and reading games.
Vizzle: If you have a child on the autism spectrum you can get specialize lessons from Vizzle.
Wonderopolois.com: Learn about 2,000-plus wonders of the world.
You can draw: Jarrett Lerner is posting activity pages on his website you can print out and enjoy. Lerner is the author of "EngiNerds and “Revenge of the EngiNerds."
How to keep kids occupied
SAFE Manager, Strategic Communications Jessica Marler shares some of her family’s favorite online activities.
- Watching live cams of different animals – org
- Read at home bingo – Can be downloaded here
- At home science experiments
- Virtual trip to Yellowstone or Sequoia National Park or Acadia National Park
- Virtual trip to Boston Children’s Museum
- Josh Gad (the voice of Olaf) is reading books every night at 4 pm PT on Twitter. We’ve listened to the last two, and it’s been great!
- Download and fill out academic printables
- Learn to read at com
- Story time from Space! Astronauts read stories for kids
- Live stream of puppies
- Learning Academy and Scholastic for educational resources
- GoNoodle for dancing and moving around
For activities that get kids away from the screen, try these.
- Teach kids life skills, like doing the laundry, sewing, cooking, small repairs.
- Play board games
- Read books together. Have a family book club!
- Play and exercise outdoors.
- Get artsy with arts and crafts. Find items around the house to repurpose for creative projects.
- Try new recipes and get creative with your shelter-at-home food supply.
- Science experiments with household supplies.
- Get organized! Clean and organize closets, drawers.
- Write short stories, plays, in a journal.
- Draw and paint
- Play make-believe
How to work from home with children
Welcome to the nationwide experiment of both parents working and kids learning at home at the same time. It’s a steep learning curve for many of us for working at home. Adding kids to the mix adds extra challenges to be aware of.
Experts who talked with cnbc.com shared these tips.
- Create a schedule for you and your kids. Schedule normal wake-up times, meals, and activities. Try to keep your children’s schedule close to what they would have at school.
- Over-communicate to your supervisors and co-workers. Let them know whether you will have to step away from work to care for your children. Alert those on a conference call whether there are children in the room or likely to come in.
- Set boundaries for your children. Establish ways to let them know times you should not be disturbed, such as using door signs (have the kids make the signs!). Try to find a quiet place in your home where you can carve out privacy for at least part of the day.
- Take breaks. This lets you refresh and check in on the kids.
- Alternate shifts with your partner. If your spouse or partner is also working from home, see about alternating work and time with the kids so you each have dedicated work time.