#parent | #kids | Schools Are Closing for Coronavirus. Now What?

[How to talk to your kids about coronavirus.]

The biggest question, for many parents, is how to fill the time, particularly if school is not planning a rigorous remote learning program or otherwise providing lessons that can be completed from home.

Fortunately, there are countless online resources to help — for any grade, and for any subject or interest. Some places to start include Khan Academy, a site with hundreds of videos and online tutorials for K-12 students across a variety of subjects; Bill Nye the Science Guy and Code.org, which focus on science and computer science respectively and offer both lessons and hands-on projects; or the BrainPOP or National Geographic Kids websites, which have educational lessons for younger children. These and many other resources are readily accessible, largely free of charge and can often be downloaded for use offline.

That said, also be cautious about how much time your child spends online, even if your school actively begins a computer-based learning program. Reserve at least one “period” every day for pleasure reading, which has many educational, intellectual and social-emotional benefits. A trip to the library, if it’s still open, will ensure that your kid has plenty of reading options. Many public libraries also have easy systems for downloading books remotely — and some allow you to register for a temporary library card online. Alternatively, see if your school offers a kid-friendly application called Sora, which helps students gain access to e-books. (Need ideas for what to read? Check out these reading lists for elementary, middle or high schoolers.)

Finally, set aside one time a day for a creative, child-led project that helps your daughter or son explore a standard school subject in a hands-on way. Ask your child to research a particular art period and make his own version of what he’s seen using whatever supplies you have on hand, including junk mail or old magazines. Turn the kitchen into a lab and have your kid explore the science behind cooking. Make history personal by asking her to interview family members and investigate the details of her family story.

The key is not to worry about your child mirroring the lessons of school. Instead, aim to feed her interest in and general knowledge about whatever topics she’s studying. When school resumes, the most important thing will be that she continued to engage with the concepts. And, hopefully, you’ve helped foster her love of learning along the way.

How parents make the outdoors part of the school day will also be crucial. While some may be under self-quarantine, many of us will be able to take advantage of an early spring. (For ways to support your kid if you can’t go outside, check out this resource.) Every day should include outdoor time, to burn off your kid’s extra energy and as an extension of whatever educational lesson is suitable for your yard or a nearby park.

This can translate into an at-home version of recess — namely walking the dog, going for a bike ride or shooting hoops. But it can also be a way to bring the school day outdoors. For example, when you switch up where your child studies, designate a “period” for an outside lesson.

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