Many families have asked if I had any tips for parents, so I wanted to share a few of my thoughts.
- Create and maintain a daily routine. Use a daily activity schedule including visual prompts to help your child know what is coming next. Children are used to a set schedule when they are in school, so it’s crucial that they continue to have consistency and predictability at home. Write the daily plan on paper, a whiteboard, poster board – whatever you have available. Be sure to let your child participate in the scheduling.
- Set a timer – This keeps children on-task and focused. The timer will allow them to visually or auditorily track how much time they need to attend to an activity. You can use a timer for fun or free time activities as well as academics.
What should be on the schedule?
- Work on the academics your child is doing at school. This can be a great time to “practice” those skills as well as his/her daily living skills. Have your child assist with household chores. Certainly, include time for preferred leisure. Physical exercise is a must!
- Limit device use. Let them play their digital games and watch TV but put it on the schedule as a “free activity” and use a timer to help limit their use. Encourage use of educational apps and games.
Determine what he/she knows and feels about the virus.
- For those who are verbal, discover if they are worried and what they are worried about. Don’t dismiss their fears with an easy, “You’ll be fine.” Listen and reflect back what they are saying. Validate their feelings. After you have listened, offer some support and coping mechanisms.
- Speak at a level that he/she will understand. For instance: This illness is different because it’s new. People are working really hard to make sure it doesn’t spread and make lots of people sick. That is why we’re staying home, so no one gets sick. If someone does get sick, the doctors will take care of them. Doctors and scientists are working really hard to figure this out.
- Offer simple coping strategies such as counting to 10, taking deep breaths, making a list of the things we are grateful for or taking a walk. It is important to help your child feel a sense of control in managing his/her feelings. Teach coping skills when your child is calm. Follow up with daily practice at a set time.
Take care of yourself, eat well, get enough sleep and exercise.
- Keeping your own anxiety in check will help you to stay calm for those around you.
Where can I go to get information on activities?
- Each school district is approaching this differently, so I’d suggest you go to their webpage.
- We have many learning resources are available on the Barber National Institute’s webpage for preschool and K-12 for multiple subjects, including math, reading, and science: https://www.barberinstitute.org/online-learning-activities
- Another thought is to consider virtual tours, which are are also available online for many national and international museums, zoos, and even theme parks.
I care deeply about the wellbeing of our community and urge everyone to stay home, stay safe and stay healthy. These are challenging times, but we’ll get through together. We are here for you.