By Guest Blogger Carrie Sockwell, author of Our Carolina Home

Over the past week, the effects of COVID-19 have taken a toll on all of us one way or another. Then the closing of schools and daycares left many wondering what we’re going to do for the two or possibly more weeks at home with our kids. I know this can be stressful for all, but when we look on the bright side, some time at home getting back to basics might not be so bad. It might be the way to force us to slow down and focus on family.

Here are some ideas I have gathered to aid and support the extra time at home with young kids:

Play outside! Aren’t you glad it is starting to warm up and we can shift all that energy into a wide open space? My girls spent hours outside yesterday playing and it was the easiest and most calming spot at our house. Play with bubbles, chalk, bikes or balls. Something to get them outside. Also while you are outside, work together to clean out garden and flower beds, plant some seeds or flowers. Have an outdoor scavenger hunt. There are so many options but whatever it is, get outside. Vitamin D is good for all of us.

Game Night can consist of so many different things. Think board games, karaoke, card games, competitions. All of these things are good for the soul and develop many skills in our kids. Board games are great for our young kids learning one to one counting. Some of our favorites in a household with kids age 2-6 are Candyland, Chutes and Ladders (Frozen Themed of course), Go Fish, and Trouble.

Cook and Bake with your kids. Try a new recipe or make a simple pizza. They will love this one and it works on many math skills like fractions, counting, telling time, adding, multiplying, dividing, etc.

Puzzles are by far one of the best but rarely used indoor activities. I remember spending days and hours working on a family puzzle. Not only are we spending a ton of time working together but it also supports so many social and emotional skills. Don’t have any, check out Amazon and get them in your house ASAP.

Have a Read-In daily at home. Set aside 15 minutes to an hour (depending on your kids age) to find a cozy spot, with lots of books, maybe a little snack and just read. Slow the mind down and indulge in some books. Some of you are thinking, “My kids don’t even read yet.” But all kids can read pictures and work on simple print concepts skills like how to turn the page and hold a book. Or maybe you sit down and read with them. If you don’t have many books at home on your child’s reading level check out these sites for free online read-alouds and books.These sites are either already free or are offering free services to families.

Storyline Online
-Reading A-Z
Story Time from Space

Make a collage or a vision board and use some those old magazines. Then have your kids hang them in their room to remind them of their dreams and aspirations. Consider sharing these with friends and family through facetime, skype or email. This is a fun activity that we don’t think of doing a lot but can be so meaningful to our kids.

Write cards to grandparents or local nursing homes. Our senior citizens are at risk the most during this time. They cant get out, are not having many visitors and a simple gesture like receiving a card could make their day and week. Have kids pull out the paper, markers, glitter and glue to construct a sweet and loving note or picture. Throw it in the mail and share some kindness.

Learn at home! With schools being out there has been a slight panic of students missing so much instruction. Schools are sending home worksheet packets, books and opting for remote learning. While all these things are good and are being done with the best intentions during a stressful time, sometimes these things can be overwhelming to parents. As an educator I am telling you not to stress your kids or yourself out daily with a pile of worksheets. Everything I mentioned above works on learning, social or emotional skills. So do a mix of the school work being sent home and things listed above to make learning fun at home.

I hope these ideas have been helpful and will support your kids time at home. However, know that whatever you choose to do is perfectly fine. We are in this together and it will all be okay. So keep calm and carry on mama!

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