The world has changed a lot in the past two weeks, hasn’t it? Right now, the majority of us moms are stranded at home — quarantined with our kids. Many of us may be homeschooling for very the first time — scared to death. And moms who are business professionals are trying to learn new online software and videoconferencing techniques — while toddlers may or may not be streaking naked in the background. As moms, we have entered a brand new jungle, and many of us are struggling to figure out how to navigate this challenging new terrain. .Before having children of my own and leaving the professional world to come home and homeschool them, I was a public school elementary and special education teacher as well as an early childhood instructor. In hopes of helping other moms out during this crazy season, I’ve pulled together a list of my favorite tips and tricks from my years spent mom-ing and teaching. .Please remember, friends, YOU CAN DO THIS! You don’t have to be a teaching professional to teach your child. God created you to be your child’s #1, lifelong teacher! Cherish these precious moments at home and look for teachable moments throughout your day. When this season of quarantine and social distancing is over, and life returns to its typical, crazy pace, you may just look back in surprise on how God used the simplest, mundane moments with your child to make the sweetest, life-long memories.
So, here we go . . .
15 Things to To Do With Your Child in Quarantine
#1) Get out into the GREAT OUTDOORS (a.k.a. your own backyard!)* Create rock gardens, collect rocks, draw on rocks with markers and crayons, paint rocks with acrylic paint* Use sidewalk chalk to draw pictures, letters, and sight words. Copy sentences and allow kids to do their math problems in chalk.* Watch animals.* Blow BUBBLES (You can make a homemade bubble mixture by mixing dish soap with water.)* Watch the clouds – finding animals and other things.* Visit a pond and catch tadpoles. * Go on an ABC scavenger hunt in your yard by finding items that start with each letter of the alphabet.
#2) Draw using untypical mediums. (This is fun inside on a rainy day)* Shaving cream * Rice* Beans * Sand* Flour
#3) Let kids do laundry – endless learning opportunities!* Sort your family’s socks and clothes by size, color, and person.* Fold bath cloths, towels, socks.* Follow directions and motor skills by handing the hangers and clothes to mama, placing clothes and dryer sheets in the dryer, and pouring the detergent in the washing machine. * Use folding laundry as a teachable moment for another language by saying please, thank you, you’re welcome, and good job in another language. Also, kids can practice labeling the colors of clothes in another language!* Teach children responsibility and ownership by encouraging them to bring their clothes to the laundry room and to put up their clean clothes.
#4) Teach kids BIG responsibility at an early age.* Kids – especially preschoolers – LOVE mimicking Mama and Daddy. Now is a great time to give them specific chores and responsibilities.* Reward them for them chores with claps, cheers, tickles, stickers, special snacks, and money. IDEAS FOR CHORES…1. Pick out their clothes.2. Make their bed3. Pick up their toys4. Take their dirty laundry to the laundry room.5. Put up clean laundry.6. Feed the dog.7. Set the table.8. Help clean up after dinner.9. Put up their books.10. Help you cook.11. Unload the dishwasher
#5) READ, READ, READ!* Keep your children’s favorite picture books out in places they can find.* Aim to read 2-3 picture books a day to your children when taking short breaks from school and work. * Ask questions about the book and the pictures. Ask, “what do you think will happen next?”* Remember, it’s okay to read the same book over and over. Kids thrive on predictability, and you will find them soon chiming in and reading the book with you from memory! **We use the program Five In A Row (fiveinarow.com) and LOVE IT!
#6) Make low places = kid spaces* Keep a box of books out in the family room and close to the floor so that they have books available look at and read.* Allow colors, coloring books, and sticker books to be low enough to access independently – promoting independent learning and creativity. * Keep plastic food storage boxes, safe cooking utensils, and non-breakable pots and pans down in lower cabinets and drawers for children to play with while you cook.* Keep dish towels in lower drawers or cabinets so children can play with them and easily find them to clean up their spilled messes.* Keep children’s cups down low, so they can go to the fridge and get water for herself!
#7) Give your children the gift of a mess – at times! (This is a hard one for moms – including me!)* Children LEARN by PLAYING! They play by exploring and learning to manipulate their environment. * One of the BEST ways to allow children to learn about objects around them is to let them to MAKE A MESS so that they can explore their MESS!* Making messes also creates teaching opportunities to put items away once playtime is over.
#8) Incorporate journaling time into your daily routine. You can teach your child the following skills through journaling:* Learning days of the week and months of the year* Understanding the weather for each day* Drawing * Handwriting* A thankful heart by teaching your child to identify daily things he/she is grateful for each day
#9) Plant a small garden and grow veggies with your child. (I’m starting this TODAY with my kids!)* Gardening promotes endless teachable conversations with your child about nature and how plants grow.* Ideas for small gardens are all over Pinterest and the internet — from square foot gardening to feed trough gardens! * ANY reason to get children outside and into nature is a good one!
#10) Encourage your child to play with toys and household items that promote imagination.* Dominoes* Blocks* Legos * Manipulative toys * Linking logs* Lauri Toys* Magnets * Dolls * Blankets/Sheets/Pillow Cases* Old boxes and leftover toilet paper and paper towel rolls = endless imaginative opportunities* Plastic cooking bowls and dishes
#11) Memorize together. Things to memorize are:* Poems* Songs and Fingerplays. Anything you turn into a song, kids easily remember! * Bible Verses, Scripture Passages, and Catechisms * Predictable books such as Dr. Seuss’s books are also fun to memorize.
#12) Cut out pictures from old magazines to create: * Collages – encourage the cognitive skills of classification, and cutting out the pictures promotes fine-motor skills and hand/eye coordination.* Paper doll families. We do this by gluing cut-out pictures onto cardboard. Our family reuses discarded cereal boxes for kid-projects. * Warning: Please make sure old magazines are appropriate for young children. Flip through your magazines before giving them to my kids and tear out any inappropriate advertising and content.
#13) Cook with your kids!* Yes …it’s messy but worth it! When you teach your child to cook, you are giving him/her a lifelong skill.* Teaches children how to listen patiently and follow directions. * Teaches children that food must be prepared and cooked – it doesn’t just appear.* Teaches children how to measure.* It encourages children to try new foods because they helped cook them.* Cooking provides excellent opportunities to discuss gratefulness and to thank God for the food we have. * High Five magazine has fun, age-appropriate recipes for kids!
#14) Teach your child how to cultivate a heart of gratitude and compassion!* Read books and Bible stories that encourage gratefulness and concern for others.* Send handmade notes with pictures to friends and family your kids cannot see right now. * Facetime or call grandparents and friends during this lonely time. * Leave flowers are food on the doorstep of a friend or neighbor in need.
#15) Love ’em, love ’em, and love ’em some more!* Remember their little hearts just want love and attention!* Remember the wonder of childhood!* Remember our attitudes as parents and our responses to their behaviors can be either life-giving or damaging! Choose your response wisely. * Tend to their hearts gently. God has entrusted us with a precious gift!