In the next few weeks you may be required to stay isolated at home for a period of time due to the viral pandemic currently sweeping the globe. Some may have even started their self-quarantine already.
Many of you who are reading this article will already have a firm grasp on home educating, an organised schedule, and a general idea of how your children take on academic work within the home. However, with the additional restrictions that may come into play, you may have to be more creative with how you fill the time outside of PACE work. If you are new to home educating, or are taking it up temporarily, the information below will be helpful.
We have put together some advice and ideas that you may want to use; also feel free to share your tips and tricks for keeping children and students occupied during this time in the comments.
Preparation does not mean panic. In order to be able to manage educating at home, it's good to have a plan -- even more so in this current situation.
- First, take a breath. Try and find a quiet moment to put your thoughts in order and get into the right head space.
- Make a list of the practical things you will need to provide for students studying at home. e.g. workbooks, stationery.
- Consider a space that they can use for their studies. If they have a desk, great! But if not, any kind of table will do the trick.
- IMPORTANT! Create a schedule. Most children will be super excited about not having to go to school and will be thinking of all the recreational things they can do outside of the classroom. If you create a firm schedule and clearly define the time of day that is set aside for study, and the times they will be free to play, it will make all the difference in the success of the home-ed routine. Try and keep mornings for academics and the afternoon for other activities.
- We recommend that you try and keep children to their current schedule. e.g. if they usually start school at 8:30, make sure they are up, dressed, and ready to work at that point.
- Free yourself up the initial few days to be available to assist them, and help them settle into the new routine. They will probably be excited about the prospect of you being around as they study (depending on their age and personalities, of course) and will want to ask you a lot of questions and get you involved with what they are doing.
- Remember, even if you don't have a structured curriculum with you at home, there are plenty of resources available online, and a lot of learning opportunities within the home (see 'keeping busy' section below).
- If you are new to home-educating or feel overwhelmed and down about not being able to manage, don't worry and don't be harsh with yourself. Take baby steps; do as much as you are able. This is an out of the blue situation, and everyone is facing problems and having to take on new tasks. You are not alone.
Academics aside, there will be a lot of time to fill when you have to be at home for an extended period. Obviously, if there is someone who is ill among you, time must be spent making sure that person has the care they need. However, if you are self-isolating to avoid contamination, or because of the possibility of spreading illness, there may be a lot of energy that needs to be directed in a creative and purposeful way. Here are some suggestions that will help you bring learning into everyday life:
- Housework - Anyone who has ever had to do housework KNOWS how much energy it takes. It's basically a workout. You can use quarantine as an opportunity to teach your children all about the skill of managing a house -- when clothes should be washed, or how to use detergents and cleaning products safely, even how to make a budget for the week. Many skills learned in the house are directly transferred to adult life. Learning about the responsibilities of housekeeping will be a help towards them owning their responsibilities in the future. This doesn't have to be made into a chore; make an event of it. Stick some music on, watch a cartoon when you have a break, and enjoy a clean and tidy house together.
- Cooking - Cooking is a combination of organisation, chemistry, maths, care, and creativity. Why not rustle up some ingredients from the back of the cupboard and choose a recipe together? Explain the importance of the right ratio of ingredients to get the most delicious results. You could even make a lesson out of it. Find a chef or baker on YouTube, watch their video and recreate their recipes. You never know, you may find that your children have a passion for culinary arts!
- Architecture - well, sort of. Why not build an indoor den with chairs, blankets, and pillows? Dens make ordinary things seem exciting. To read a book or draw a picture in a den is a lot more fun than just sitting at a table. Mini obstacle courses are also very diverting and can be done inside and outside.
- Go outside - Whist we are being encouraged to socially isolate, it is important that fresh air is still a part of daily life. If you have an enclosed garden, try and make the most of it during this time. If you don't have a garden, try and get out for a walk in an area that isn't busy and crowded. The great thing about being outdoors is that things can get messy. Some options are: make footprint paintings on big pieces of paper, have a bug hunt, make a vegetable patch, or wash the car!
- Exercise - Having a workout is scientifically proven to benefit both mind and body. Exercise releases endorphins in the body. Endorphins are chemicals that work to elevate a person's mood and are also natural painkillers. Other hormones released during exercise are dopamine and serotonin, both of which help regulate your mood. Chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol are reduced in your body during exercise, which in turn helps reduce stress levels. Being in a quarantine situation is the opposite of relaxing, and worries and tension may come from it. Exercising will help alleviate those negative feelings. Why not find a workout online that will be fun for everyone and exercise together? Create competition to see who can hold the longest plank or who can do the most sit-ups. Explain the benefits of exercise, and remember to keep hydrated!
- Art & Creativity - Pinterest is a fountain of creative ideas that you can do with your family. Even if you don't have many crafting materials, you can make things out of stuff around the house. Upcycle some old socks and make sock puppets, draw and colour in a favourite animal, write a script and make movies with a phone. Write a 'quarantine journal', poem, song, or story about the experience (or about anything else). There is literally an endlessness to delving into the creative arts, and it is such a satisfying enterprise because there is always a tangible, and enjoyable, result (most of the time).
- Rest - Whilst it is wise to incorporate learning into the time that you have at home, it is equally as important to make that definition between time to work and allow time to rest. Don't feel bad if your children have a day or so in front of the TV or with their video games. Don't feel bad if you decide to get a pizza delivered instead of having a home cooking class. Rest is necessary if you want to be at your best form when it counts. Being burnt out doesn't help anyone. When it's time for holidays, have a holiday; when it's the weekend, have a weekend; and when you've had a time of work, have a time of rest.
It's easy to be discouraged and have negative thoughts in times of uncertainty. As believers we can be secure because of our trust that God has a higher plan in all things and that He can take a bad situation and change it for the good.
A time of isolation can have a negative impact, but we can choose to think of the positive elements.
- We can use this time at home to meditate more through reading the Bible and prayer.
- We can spend more time together as a family.
- We can take an opportunity to disconnect from the fast, furious, and exhausting way modern society works.
- We can find opportunities to show kindness and respect to those who have the bigger need.
- We can have a time of collective prayer for the world we share.