As more and more schools close down to help curtail the spread of coronavirus, parents are looking for ways to keep their kids engaged and learning while they’re home from school ― whether that’s with educational apps and shows, fun arts and crafts or puzzles.
Here are their brilliant tips.
Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.
“Have on hand a wide variety of items for the kids, especially if you’re juggling working from home. Start compiling items like sensory bins for younger children and put together baskets full of activity books and games for older children. Take an afternoon and head to the dollar store and grab things that look like they’ll be of interest. ‘Strewing’ is one way to grab your child’s attention (and give you a few minutes to get things done): Place items on a table and walk away ― let the child come to it naturally and explore at their own pace. Here’s a playlist of resources we’ve used in our homeschool preschool.” ― Marie Bentley Shaurette
“I have to work from home, so I need to build in independent study blocks for my 8-year-old. So far it’s been Lego building challenges, researching artists and making art in their style, and reading. We are moving into week 4 at home (thanks to the flu, then a tornado before all this), so I need to focus on grade-level curriculum a bit more now.” ― Brittany Rtg
“In terms of apps, Khan Academy Kids is often educator-recommended and an excellent learning tool. Very diverse offerings. And a good fit for child-directed learning for parents juggling work from home.” ― LM Brash
“My kids look forward to Easter season every year. I fill plastic Easter eggs with battery-operated tea lights (get the ones with on/off switch for safety reasons with children under 4) and we do glow-in-the-dark egg hunts every night. This is the perfect way to get the kids to clean up all the toys since you can’t hunt in the dark with toys all over the floor. We count the eggs, talk about why some eggs glow brighter than others, etc.” ― Christie Pham
“The best thing is to remember you’re their parent who is teaching them, not just a teacher. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or frustrated, but how you speak to your child will become their inner voice. There are so many ways to help your kiddo available even from the confines of home. Take a break when you get stressed and be silly for a few mins. You’d be surprised that your child might learn from you in just a few weeks something they’ve been struggling with all year.” ― Andrea Stewart Williams
“Go on a nature scavenger hunt in the yard or at a park. I write a quick list of 10 items to find ― for example, ‘something soft,’ ‘something with spots,’ ‘something round,’ ‘something yellow,’ etc. ― on a paper sack.”
“Virtual museum visit with the kids! And use coloring supplies to be inspired into making your own art.” ― Belle Regeer
“Go on a nature scavenger hunt in the yard or at a park. I write a quick list of 10 items to find ― for example, ‘something soft,’ ‘something with spots,’ ‘something round,’ ‘something yellow,’ etc. ― on a paper sack. We search and then regroup to share. Fun, learning, and exercise!” ― Kelly Holt Nelms
“I just created a weekday schedule for my kids. We’ve told them this won’t just be like a snow day. We’ll be using the weekend to pull together math center activities, we’ll see what their teachers send them home with today, have book reports, my husband and I will each share some social studies or science lesson, but we both have to work from home, so are hoping we can prep enough that a good chunk of the day they can be somewhat independent. And recess. Lots of chunks of recess :-)” ― Sarah Andrews Schlieckert
“I homeschooled my oldest. This is a good chance to show your kids why you need math. Do a recipe to teach measurements, cut it in half or double it to do fractions. We used mail for quick reading, sentence fragmenting. Examine or critique a TV show or movie. What was the theme? Turning point? Use imagination going through your day.” ― Linda Abbott
“Reading, baking, Play-Doh, sand play and Legos are favorites in our house.
Get outdoors for nature walks/scavenger hunts. Bring paper and crayons and make leaf rubbings, etc. Collect different types of flowers, leaves, and Google them at home. YouTube is great for things like jolly phonics, yoga videos and dance videos.” ― Michelle Bosonnett
“We play store with real coins. We do art “challenges,” coloring and talk about our work. We bake. We explore our yard, weeding (free labor) to look at roots and bugs. And sometimes we take out a workbook. And they learn by playing pretend, by watching mom do chores (like cleaning toilets when they’re in the bath!) and helping out. By organizing a shelf or helping with dinner. It all works, but the day is LONG. So we also watch TV, play cards, use our tablets mindlessly, and eat candy. And there’s yelling and pushing, etc. too!!!” ― Jessica Starace
“For teens, I am considering having them watch a movie a day that focuses on history or gives a perspective of certain times in American history. For example, ‘Good Morning Vietnam,’ ‘Forrest Gump’ — I’m open to other suggestions for movies.” ― Amy Bashian McCoy
“We love podcasts and will be listening to more for sure! Currently loving: ‘Wow in the World’ (science), ‘The Past and the Curious,’ ‘What if World’ (silly stories), ‘Noodle Loaf.’” ― Elizabeth Telmosse
“I told my daughter who is almost 13 that the next three weeks are a golden opportunity (the silver lining, if you will) to explore her personal interests and hobbies. When else will she have three weeks of time to make a vision board, work on her sewing skills, read things of interest to her and work on the website she wants to build for the business she wants create? Self-study can be an invaluable tool for helping kids grow as individuals, just as much as academic tools can. Plus, it is building resourcefulness and creativity instead of being glued to a device and consuming content created by other people.” ― Gaynor Hardy Meilke
“I told my daughter that the next three weeks are a golden opportunity ... to explore her personal interests and hobbies. When else will she have three weeks of time to make a vision board, work on her sewing skills, read things of interest to her and work on the website she wants to build?”
“Education.com has so many free worksheets/booklets that can be printed!
We use them at home with our 4-year-old on days he doesn’t have preschool.
Also — survival mode. Understand that keeping them engaged all day is hard. There will be movies, TV, iPad time, etc.” ― Brittney Vachon
“We are making photo books online — we have so many photos we never printed, so each kid is going to sift through our photos online and put together their own book that we will then have printed and sent to us.” ― Melinda Catherine
“Sensory-based activities, like drawing numbers, letters and words in sand and flour, salt dough, obstacle courses, forts, vinegar-and-baking soda volcanoes.” ― Rachel Dinnen
“The IEL - Illinois Early Learning Project has developed a resource list on routines and guidance, explaining the situation to young children, and developmentally appropriate activities for young children.” ― Jill Theobald Tompkins
“Educational games! There are tons of geography and math games. Quiddler is our favorite word game.” ― Laurie Sumner Oldham
“Board games are also a fun way to learn. Here are some of our favorites (this doesn’t include games like Candyland or Monopoly). ... My kids love doing easy science experiments. I put together a list of fun science activities that are easy to do at home.” ― Darcy Zalewski
“‘Brainchild’ on Netflix is a winner in our house right now!” ― Nikki McCormick
“Scour your bookshelves; there’s valuable information to be had. Many children’s books offer activities and ideas for keeping the learning going at home. Here are a few ideas from books that may already be on your bookshelves.” ―Marie Bentley Shaurette
“This is a project our homeschooling family has been working on for a while. The aim is to teach children global citizenship and empathy.” ― Janine Berger
“Cosmic kids yoga on YouTube.” ― Kristen Fritz Peterson
“Teacherspayteachers.com has tons of great learning activities and games you can print and use at home.” ― Chelsea Mackey
“Watching movies on Disney+ while you’re on a phone call? No worries! Here are some fun crafts to make after the movie.” ― Whitney Cornelison
“Tons of great ideas for homeschooling here, with lots of printable activities and worksheets for kids.” ― Katie Reed
“We play with Lego bricks. There are a ton of cool activities to do with six bricks.” ― Mélanie Cumbo