As schools across the nation close to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, millions of children are required to stay home. During this time, parents should consider their child’s needs for structure, education, exercise, social contact, appropriate leisure time, and calm explanations about the situation.
Set a Schedule
Children do best if there are plans for each day, especially the weekdays when they would have been in school. Follow the regular school day–weekend day sleep schedule. Follow your regular wake-up time and bedtime schedule when they are attending school. Since children may be cooped up with one another for long stretches, sibling fights may be an issue. Be ready to help discuss conflicts and set guidelines for how to resolve problems.
Establish a Home Schooling System
Your child’s school may have learning packets or classes via Google classrooms or Zoom. Check with your child’s teacher or principal for guidance for a free home-school curriculum. Find out how your children’s schools plan to keep students engaged and active and follow the suggested schedule. Start with a morning meeting and schedule list, since this is what most teachers do to start the day. Have a list of the subjects and activities for the day and create 30 to 45-minute blocks of time to work on the subjects that your child takes. Younger children may only be able to focus on a task for 10 or 15 minutes. Take lots of movement breaks, sing songs, and get outside when you can.
For elementary school children, the morning could include math, followed by a walking break or playing catch for about 10 minutes; social studies—including current events—using online resources; a set of jumping jacks and a race around the house for another break; and then science. Take a break for lunch and have your child help make it. After lunch, have a short recess followed by a round of language arts, reading, and writing. When the lessons are done, assign homework, such as reviewing one of the activities from the day.
Many schools are moving their lessons online by providing virtual instruction or assignments. Be sure your child keeps up with the assignments and can engage in any virtual instruction. If your child’s school is not providing these options, turn to sources from reputable home-school organizations and websites. Scholastic learn-at-home is offering free online resources during the crisis, including 20 days of lessons for grades pre-K to 9 with up to three hours of lessons a day. The Facebook group “Amazing Educational Resources” gathered some educational websites into a public spreadsheet which includes resources for reading, math, history, music and more.
Some children’s book authors offer free activity sheets on their websites. Jarrett Lerner, author of “Enginerds,” is creating new worksheets every few days that let kids finish a comic or complete a drawing with their own ideas.
Exercise and Entertainment
Take walks and play games such as tag, hide-and-seek, Red Rover, and Simon Says. Take bike rides and hikes. Hikes can also be used to teach about nature, plants, animals, and birds.
Social contact is very important for children. Encourage appropriate and reasonable use of phones, tablets, and computers for making these connections. Parents should monitor the content and the tone of communications that have been or are occurring.
To help students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the DOE is lending internet-enabled iPads to help with remote learning. If you would like to request a device for an NYC student, please fill out the Request Form. The DOE will use the contact information you provide to get in touch with you to discuss when and where you can pick up a device. Priority will be given to students most in need, and all devices are granted on a temporary basis and will need to be returned. There is a limit of one device per student. Families with multiple students will need to fill out a separate form for each device needed. The device is being loaned to students to access remote learning activities only. The device is the property of the NYCDOE and contains a tracking device so that the device can be located. It must be returned when on-site learning resumes.