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Kids Home From School? How to Survive

Having kids at home when we were expecting them to be at school is always tricky. One snow day is very different from two weeks or longer with uncertainty looming. If you are home with kids because of virus-related school closures…I feel for you. We’re in the same boat.  Events your kids were looking forward to are now cancelled. It is a really sad time. I’ve been doing webinars for school communities affected by COVID-19 and parents have a lot of questions right now.

Here are some tips on keeping kids productively occupied when schools close. This  article is about ways to make “screen time” awesome! And here are a few more ideas for an extended period time at home with your kids…while working and while playgrounds, museums and so much of our world is shut down, due to COVID-19.

Screen-based activities

  • Face time, zoom, skype or google hangout with friends and family from near and far. See if you can play a game with grandparents or extended family. We have found that Bananagrams works as a virtual game. Check-in with your community, too. For example, older people who live independently and usually do a lot in the community like going to the gym or attending religious services may be isolating for health reasons right now and might love a virtual hangout!
  • Have your kids read a book, or story, and then make a short video “book review” to share when they are done. If you feel comfortable being out and about, I’d see if you can stock up at the library today.
  • If school is closed, your child’s teachers are likely suggesting great apps for learning that kids can use during this time. If you want more, try 21 Marbles  a fun logic/math app for ages 8-12 (but I enjoy it, too.)
  • This could be the time for your child to learn the programming language, Scratch.
  • Learn a new skill from YouTube Try a new recipe for slime or pie, or a new craft that you haven’t had time for. Have your kids always wanted to learn ASL? Note: For younger kids especially, YouTube should always be viewed with a parent!
  • Talk about Tik Tok…and MAYBE, make a video. This family did, and it’s pretty adorable. With so many teens and tweens home in the next few weeks, I think we’re going to see some real creativity on Tik Tok. Kids talking about Tik Tok and you don’t really get it. Have them show you.
  • But first…Discuss this article about a young creator!
    • Who owns something when it becomes viral?
      How should people be credited?
    • If your child is missing school, a deep talk about copyright, power, gender and race
      could be a good way to keep those current events and social studies muscles primed!

Note: Uploading content to Tik Tok is not something kids should do without parental knowledge and permission. Even just scrolling and viewing is something you’ll want to supervise, depending on your children’s ages. There is some lovely and funny content on the app, but like all social apps, it is an uncurated wild west. Tons of things you wouldn’t want your eight-year-old to see!

On the fence about letting your kid use Tik Tok? Read one mom’s account here.


  • Music Dig out those instruments and jam!
  • Listen to podcasts Here’s a new one aimed at 8-12 year olds that we’re trying now. Eleanor Amplified. And you know I am a huge fan of The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian for the 4-10 set! Your kid can send voice memos and art to this podcast. I know podcasts not fully unplugged, but since don’t involve looking at or touching a screen, so I am putting podcasts here!
  • Writing Maybe your child would like to start a newspaper, short story series or try her hand at some fan fiction (new stories using characters from her favorite book or TV show. ) This is a great time!
  • Declutter Nothing like being in our apartment for a little extra time to help us all see the benefits of decluttering. If you can gamify it (who can come up with the most books or old clothes to donate) or just turn on some music and declutter for a set period of time…you just might find you like it. Organizing old photos is another great project, for times like these.
  • Read Favorite recent middle-grade kid’s read here: The Girl Who Drank The Moon, and Kelly Barnhill’s other recent book, The Witch’s Boy. For high schoolers who love YA, try Eliza and Her Monsters.

Staying Calm

Finally, don’t over-read news, and be sure your kids aren’t over-consuming news, especially from alarming and possibly inaccurate sites. One person in the family can check trusted local and national sources once a day. That should be enough. Information overload isn’t helpful.

Your school will definitely email and text with big updates, so no need to refresh that website multiple times a day! We’ll all need to be flexible to get through this. I’m focusing on learning to be at peace with the changes to our routines as we implement these crucial safety measures. Hang in there!

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