With schools canceled for the next month or so, and the governor advising against day camps and other programs, parents may need some ways to keep kids engaged.
We talked with Linda Fairchild with the Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning about what parents can do to keep their kids engaged during this long, unplanned break in the middle of the school year.
One place parents might look for tips and advice is the homeschool community, she said. Many of those parents are posting their schedules online to help out other parents, she said.
"The biggest takeaway that I'm finding is to do what you can. Don't get upset if it's not perfect--we are all in uncharted territory. My opinion is to read! Read anything you can either by picking up some books at your library before your hunker down or use your parish's library card to rent out audiobooks and activities," she advises. "Math games and art have been popular as well. My favorite is the Google Culture app and Cincinatti Zoo. They are offering free tours. If you don't have internet, many companies are giving away free or reduced rates. Because I don't want to be on my phone or laptop all day, I bought some old fashioned crossword and sudoku books. Even having your children write or blog about this experience is valuable."
What you do will be different for kids of different ages, Fairchild adds, "but routine is key. My friend teaches high school social studies and put together a scavenger hunt that be come completed on Google Classroom for her students to be engaged. I like that idea; our students are suddenly in very heavy and scary times. Just like we do, they need that interjection of fun and humor."
Keeping a schedule will help everybody in the house, she says.
"This is probably most important for everyone. It's easy to fall into the non-routine of eating and sleeping. Schedules not only keep up on track, but are good for our mental health as well," Fairchild says. "Even though it's tempting, try not to have all screen time all day. The more we have a routine, the more we have a sense of control. And isn't that what we all want? To have a sense of control this madness?"
Reading is probably next on that list, she says.
"Please read! But more importantly, read together! Local libraries and the American Library Association has lists for age-appropriate books. On my last outing, I hit up our local library and picked up some of my fave authors and print some coloring sheets from a museum. Check in (virtually) and have reading groups or Astronauts Reading from Space," she says.
As closures have been called across the country, many organizations - museums, zoos, even the Metropolitan Opera - have stepped up to offer free online performances and virtual tours. There also are lots of opportunities for online classes in many subjects to keep students thinking during this unplanned four week break.
Here are some links to get you started, including several Fairchild suggests:
EDUCATIONAL SITES AND FREE CLASSES
Children's author Mo Willems is hosting a "doodle" every Monday. Watch it here. Once it's over, the videos will be posted to a link on that page.
Skype a Scientist is waiving their normal group size requirement to include families stuck at home during school closures. Just provide the grade level and type of science they're interested in and SAS will match you up with a scientist for a video chat session! Sign up here.
The Scholastic company offers daily activities for kids of all ages. You can access the website they set up just for this crisis by clicking here..
Eight of America's Ivy League schools are offering free, online classes in a variety of subjects. You can check out the offerings here.
Students of French might be interested in these stories.
Every night, the Metropolitan Opera will be streaming performances here. The videos will be available the following day, too. This will continue as long as the Met is closed because of Covid-19.
Here's a free short-story course in literature. This would be appropriate for middle and high school students.
If you'd like a more regular program, look into Google Classroom. Here's a presentation aimed at parents with more information.
National Geographic has a cool site for kids with info about the world and animals.
It would be great to hear from Dr. Seuss about now, right? Here's the link to the Seussville website, with lots of games and reading.
To practice math and reading skills in a fun way, check out this site or this one.
PBS KIds has lots of activities, and offers a daily newsletter for parents with ideas for games and activities.
Want to hear a story? Here's a website with links to lots of videos of people (maybe even some famous people) reading favorite stories and kids' books.
Math and chemistry are tough subjects to learn on your own, making coronavirus-related school closings particularly difficult for students taking classes in those areas.
In an effort to help displaced students, OneClass has launched OneClass Live, a tutoring platform for high school and college students looking for extra help while they learn remotely. They will be giving away 100,000 hours of free math and chemistry tutoring sessions, starting this week.
OneClass Live: https://youtu.be/6aXMd9het0g [youtu.be]
The USS Kidd in Baton Rouge is offering a virtual tour. To access the tours, follow this link, https://www.usskidd.com/explore-the-kidd/virtual-ship-tour/ [usskidd.com], and click on either “Virtual ‘guided’ tour” or “Explore in 3D.”
VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS
Here's a list of 12 museums around the world that offer virtual tours.
Links to tours of the White House, the Pyramids, Buckingham Palace, Mount Rushmore and more amazing sites are included on this list.
Here are some more possibilities for virtual field trips from Waterford.org:
The San Diego Zoo's kid page has lots of activities, videos and information about the zoo's animals.
Virtual Tour of the Great Wall of China: This panoramic tour allows you to walk through one of the oldest and most historically significant wonders of the world.
Monterey Bay Aquarium: This virtual tour allows students to go on a deep-sea adventure through exhibit webcams that allow students to watch sea creatures in real time. Once you’ve studied the animals up close, the Monterey Bay Aquarium also provides this classroom resource page with activities, fact sheets, and games to play with your kids.
Virtual Farm Tours: Learn more about the wonders of agriculture with your kids through this panoramic tour of farms in Ontario. They can learn how dairy products are made, see farmers harvest fruit or eggs, and even explore specialty farms like an emu or deer ranch.
Discovery Education Field Trips: Discovery Education offers a variety of free, interactive tours designed for elementary school students. From a behind-the-scenes look at the Library of Congress to a climbing expedition of Mt. Kilimanjaro, there's plenty to see here.
“The Secrets of Easter Island” Tour: What were the people who made the moai head megaliths like, why did they create them, and where did this lost civilization go? Uncover the answer to these and many more exciting questions through the virtual tour of Easter Island.
Yellowstone National Park Virtual Field Trip: Yellowstone is one of the most popular and breathtaking national parks in the United States. With this virtual tour, your kids can view landmarks like Old Faithful, the Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Fountain Paint Pot.
Online Tour of the Louvre: The Louvre in Paris, France is one of the most renowned art galleries in the world and, by visiting their website, you can explore some of their exhibits in class. Your kids can take a cultural tour of Ancient Egyptian artifacts, nineteenth-century Romanticism paintings, and other breathtaking exhibits.
Take a Virtual Walk on Mars: This site gives you a tour of the surface of Mars, conducted by NASA’s Curiosity rover.
As many schools are now closed, and parents are searching for at-home and online resources for their children, the Stuttering Foundation has created a blog post with links to resources, activities and guidance for helping children with their stuttering while at home:
Five percent of children stutter during adolescence, and one percent stutter for most of their lives.