When you carefully planned your New Year’s resolutions for 2020, you might have included “spend more time with the kids”. While this social distancing thing isn’t exactly what you had in mind, it's a great time to build stronger bonds with your kids while helping to foster a love of learning.
We know a lot of people are feeling more than a little overwhelmed right now, but the good news is that there’s no pressure to be perfect!
Our suggestions are a great start, and there’s a lot of flexibility regarding what is the right choice for your family.
Use the School’s Resources
Before you break out the credit cards for all new supplies, take a look at what your school is already offering.
Many schools have classroom memberships to educational online sites. Ask your child what programs they use at school to get started. As long as you have the password for these programs, you can use them at home.
Additionally, your child’s school may have a collection of ebooks that you can take out. This is a great alternative from the city library’s limited ebook collection, and the waitlists won't be as long. Or take a look at Audible! For as long as schools are closed, kids can stream - for free - a huge collection of stories.
Let Your Child Take the Lead
This is a great opportunity for your child to do a project or learn about a topic they wouldn’t normally get to study in a traditional classroom. Maybe they want to pick up a new craft, learn more about Canada’s history, or delve deeply into a scientific topic. Once you know what your child wants to learn, find ways to help them get connected.
For instance, if they’d like to learn how to crochet blankets like Grandma does, you could set up a daily or weekly video session with Grandma or find some tutorials on YouTube.
Many museums, aquariums, and zoos worldwide are offering virtual tours that kids could check out. The Calgary Zoo has your "Daily Dose" with tons of great videos you can watch. And on Outschool, there are short classes on unique topics, such as drawing, potions, and meditation.
Try Out Some Online Learning
If you’ve exhausted resources from the school and you want something that will help your child keep up with his or her skills, you can check out some online learning resources.
- Khan Academy is great because it’s free, and they offer a wide variety of courses.
- For younger kids, ABC Mouse has a nice variety of early learning activities
- Adventure Academy is a version for older kids and has a nice, quest-based design that allows kids to have fun while they’re learning.
- For math, the basic version of Prodigy is free, and it goes through the curriculum in a fun way.
- Xtramath would be a better choice if you just want your child to work on their math facts
- Beast Academy offers a nice challenge for kids who tend to think math is too easy.
Play Some Games
You don’t want your kids to feel like they’re doing school all of the time. Playing games as a family is fun - something kids enjoy! And there are many games that also improve literacy, math skills, and cooperation.
Consider classics like Scrabble, Yahtzee! or Life. Young kids can play simple card games like Old Maid or Go Fish, while older kids can learn how to play Rummy or Euchre. It’s also a good time to stock up on some new games, like Apples to Apples, Ticket to Ride, or Blockus.
Take a Break
Being at home allows your child to take more breaks than they’d be able to take in school, and this is a good thing! You’re allowed to get outside as long as you follow proper social distancing practices. This is in fact, encouraged.
This means you can go for bike rides or take walks in the woods. You could also set up an obstacle course in your driveway or backyard using things you find around the house, like hula hoops, chalk, and other toys.
You can also get your money’s worth on Netflix or Disney+. Watch some of your old favourites with the kids. Start a new TV series together. Just make sure to give things a bit of a preview to make sure they’re appropriate.
And if you want to keep the kids learning while they’re watching TV, sign up for the affordable annual membership to Curiosity Stream. It’s like Netflix, but only for documentaries.
Staying home means you get to spend a lot of extra time with your kids. You don't have to spend every waking moment together, but it’s a great opportunity to build on your relationship with them. Take advantage of your time together.