Two weeks ago, I would have never believed public schools would be shutting down due to the Coronavirus. Schools did not shut down with the announcement of the Swine Flu, Ebola, etc., but here we are trying to make sense of being confined to our house, trying to develop a “remote” curriculum for kindergarten students, washing hands until they are raw, spraying door knobs with Lysol, and wondering “why the need for so much toilet paper”?
Believe it or not, when the announcements were made Friday to close school until the end of March, I was a little heartbroken. As the students in my elementary school building were packing up for the day, I could not help feeling how I was going to miss their little faces. It got worse as they hugged me and told me how much they were going to miss coming to school (elementary students still love school). Thinking out loud, I must have said, “this break is the same as Christmas vacation”, but all too quickly, a little boy remarked, “but we don’t get presents”! True!
Now that I have processed the whole idea of “social distancing”, I am trying to explain it to my own TEENAGE children. When my husband and I told them that the cars are parked and we are having family time, their responses were not so heartwarming. Responses like: “I am not staying home for two weeks”, “I am not sick so why do I have to stay home”, “I am bored”, “this is so dumb”, and even “I will take my chances with the Coronavirus”! This is going to be a long two weeks!
How do you tell a child that is not physically sick, that they could potentially be carrying the virus? Where do you begin to explain the idea of minimizing the bell curve of diagnosed Coronavirus patients so medical facilities are not overwhelmed with sick patients at one time; especially when no one locally has tested positive for the virus? (Cue the Knocking on wood!) How do you explain that a healthy individual will most likely be fine if they are exposed to the virus, but the elderly and people with underlying conditions might have to be hospitalized and/or have major complications if they are positively diagnosed?
So the conversations all go back to kindness and compassion. Teach children to think of others and their health and well-being before complaining that they have to stay home. Remind kids that science can be very confusing, but we have to communicate to them to trust the medical professionals. If all else fails, cross your fingers and repeat “this too shall pass”!
If you are fortunate enough to be able to stay home with your kiddos, here are some ideas to make your child’s time at home a positive experience:
-Write a friendly letter or draw a picture to send to the local hospital, nursing homes, etc. to brighten their day when visitors are restricted.
-Send homemade, thank you cards to all the professionals who are on the frontlines of this virus providing medical attention to the newly diagnosed.
-Keep your children on a schedule. They may not have to get up and ready for school, but they still can get up, get dressed, and participate in creative and educational activities.
- Research varies educational software companies who are offering free memberships to their programs while schools are canceled.
-Message your children’s teachers (if they have not already sent information home) asking them activities their children can be working on while school is canceled. Elementary students always need practice with money, telling time, and their basic facts (Spray the coins with Lysol-just in case).
-Set some time aside for your children to work on arts and crafts.
-Have them bundle up and get some fresh air. This is the perfect time for them to clean up sticks and other debris from winter. They can start a pile for a bonfire that the family can enjoy at a later date.
-Hikes, walks, kicking a soccer ball around the yard are all acceptable activities during “social distancing”.
- Have them read a book! The best way to become a fluent reader is to READ!
-Bake with your children. Not only is it quality time, but they are applying their knowledge of measurement with a sweet treat!
-How about puzzles, board games and conversation?
Remember that high school students are also home, so if you have a neighbor, friend, etc. that is willing to come over to watch the kids, it is a win-win for everyone.
Wash your hands, stay home, enjoy the break with your kids and ration the toilet paper!
Stay healthy and Safe!