We are living in a whole new world overnight. The COVID 19 pandemic is affecting everyone in ways that would have been hard to predict just a few weeks ago. People are struggling to stock groceries and daily use items, parents have been forced to work from home, and schools have moved online.
We have been home since the beginning of March. My children started virtual schooling within the first few days… and at that time, the one thing I wanted so badly to hear was:
Everything is going to be alright. You will survive this. This too shall pass.
I want to remind you this today. It is going to be okay, dear friend. You, the children and the Hubs and the whole world… we will all get through this. All we need right now is to hold on to each other.
At a time like this, I hope you and your family are safe and well. I also hope that I can offer you resources to help you navigate these uncharted waters. From managing the home to entertaining your children and teaching them at home, here are some ideas.
I have created a huge resource on this page. You will find the following topics below. If you need to jump ahead, please click the links to go directly to that section.
Talking to your children about the COVID 19 situation.
The first thing that you must do…
Did you talk to your children about the Corona Virus?
If your child is even as small as 2 years old, they can understand that something is wrong and mum and dad are worried. Imagine for a 5 year old to be not told when she can clearly see the disrupted routines and the panic in your faces. They can read your anxiety.
Your children are at home now. They may be understanding a bit of it, but most little children are confused to see everyone at home. They can see that there is something different, but unless you tell them what is going on and reassure them that mommy and daddy are fine, they will continue being stressed.
Stress in children shows up in different ways. Some may be downright misbehaving, others may be lethargic or complaining of tummy aches. Some children will wet themselves even after being potty trained for a long time, while others may suck on their thumbs and want their bottle or lovey back. Older children may be demanding more screen time and getting unreasonably angry.
So, sit down with your children, explain to them what is going on right now. Talk to them about…
- how there are so many germs. Tell them that this specific germ is a virus and that it is very contagious. It is called the Coronavirus.
- Tell them that more and more people are falling sick and that we the adults are trying very hard to ensure that the children are safe.
- Don’t sound all gloomy and sad but reassure that they are being protected.
- Be sure to say that many people are safe and will not be affected much, but some people who are already sick, and older people can get very sick. So we are staying away from everybody to protect them. It will make more sense if you talk about grandparents or older family members.
- Tell them that you will all be at home, and that you all have to work together to keep the home clean and also take care of each other.
- Reassure them that it can actually be fun staying home all the time. Talk about all the things you can do as a family. (But don’t say anything specific like we are making this tomorrow or playing this… don’t spark expectations like that. We want them calm not hyper!)
- Don’t forget to talk about Hand washing and ways they must maintain cleanliness. Show them the right way to wash their hands. You can help them think up songs or rhymes to sing while washing too.
Be open to questions. You can also involve them with writing up some simple activities that you can do daily. (Ideas for Kids activities later in the post…)
How to continue your child’s schooling at home
Most of us have never homeschooled before, but schools are closed now. Our only choice is to make the best use of the resources available to us and continue on.
Some schools have been quick to move over to virtual school. Our school for example, already had an app, where the children did homework and additional assignments every week. They are now using that same app to broadcast classes online. My children study from 8am to 3pm on laptops or tablets.
Other schools have been using Microsoft Teams, Google Classrooms, Zoom and other apps like these.
If your school has switched over to virtual school then you may be struggling to keep up with it. After all, it is a very different way of studying. Here are some tips to ensure that you are not stressed and overwhelmed with virtual school.
Tips to make the most out of your child’s Virtual School:
- Allocate a study area in your home. It should be free from distractions and yet still, where you can keep an eye on your child while they are attending their online class. If you have multiple children who are studying online, consider getting headphones so each child can get his/her privacy.
- Make sure the children are sleeping well at night. When they sleep well, they will be able to sit for longer hours with better concentrations. Now that schools are closed, your children may be tempted to stay up later than their bedtimes, but remember that school (although a bit later now) still requires them to work hard during the day.
- Make sure they are ready for class a bit before time. Wake them up early, make sure they are fresh and have had their breakfast. As we all know, they need slow releasing energy through the day. Make sure you offer them water, juices and snacks in the breaks.
- Do they know what all they will need for class? It is not about just books but stationary and additional material like a dictionary or a calculator, if they use one.
- Remember that your child will react differently towards online learning than they were at school. Some children who were active and social at school may suddenly feel scared and unable to cope up. It is best to let your child gently adapt to this new change. Talk to them and help them with their needs. Address your child’s concerns empathetically. Talk to the teacher too.
- If your child’s teacher has shared a weekly plan or the next day’s lesson plan, show it to the child and encourage them to watch the powerpoint presentations or additional material that they are providing. It will help the child grasp the lesson more faster and also be able to answer questions while the teacher is available.
- Make sure they understand what homework or classwork they must submit that day. If they have to scan their books or take pictures, make sure to do it right away so that you don’t forget later.
How to Create your own Home School Solution:
Some schools have not been able to provide a virtual school environment. They may have ended the school session, so your children are now to start a new school year in April. Or your school is just offering you links and worksheets and they may not be enough for your child. I know that many parents who are lost for ideas with this new situation.
If your school is not conducting virtual classes, they may be offering advice on how to conduct classes at home. If they are not providing even this option and you are left to plan everything, here is what to do:
- Contact your school or your child’s teacher and ask them what plans they have. Generally, through the normal school year, teachers have weekly and monthly plans on how they will conduct classes everyday. They may have a weekly plan that either they have prepared, or the management has given them. So what I am saying is that there is gotta be something that they can give you. Connect with your child’s school and teachers. It is quite possible that they may be stumbling around themselves, and it may take some time but… talk to them first.
- Use their plan if you can. Take their weekly plan and supplement it with additional material like videos or/and online games for practice. Yes, you may have to do the hard work now. More about this below.
- If all else fails, I highly recommend heading to Khan Academy. We used it last two summers with my eldest and they are really organized. You just have to create an account and they will do the rest. Here is a list of some amazing online resources. It is a google doc that is updated frequently with more resources as they are found. So make sure to bookmark it.
How to create your own lesson plan for schooling at home.
To make your own lesson plan for teaching at home, you need to:
- Choose a subject first.
- Next, find the lesson that they are to study. Write down the page numbers. (If your teacher has given you this, use them).
- Find two videos from YouTube that explain the topic. For example: search ‘weathering of rocks’ or ‘grade 2 pronouns’ or ‘multiplication equations’. There are many fun children’s videos on YouTube that you can use.
- Find one game or quiz that can help them practice what they are learning.
- Is their a worksheet or printable that you can find for them to practice on? Write some practice problems in a notebook if you cannot find what you need.
Free Learning Resources to study from home
If you have older children, you may need a list of websites that can help you teach. Here’s a list of some of my favorite websites that I frequent.
- I know many Kid Bloggers who offer free and paid printables with creative ideas to teach our children. Here is a master list of blogs that offer free resources to parents.
- Khan Academy: This is the place for getting your child to learn online. It has exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empowers your child to study by themselves at their own pace. I have seen even school teachers showing students videos from this site.
- Scholastic Learn At Home: They have creative 3 weeks of free learning resources to help our child study at home. They are really high quality stuff with focus on discovery and fun hands on learning.
- Twinkl: They offer a huge range of educational material and printabless. They have an offer going on for parents who are subscribed to them on smaller bundles. You can upgrade for a month free with a code. (Get Twinkl Ultimate free for a month: enter code PARENTSTWINKLHELPS.)
- National Geographic Kids : NGK has science and history lessons made fun. We have been using them for years… even teachers recommend it.
- ABCYa : We have been using this for practicing what they learn at school for years now. They have a variety of educational games by grade plus many videos
- Starfall: I used Starfall to teach all my kids to read and write. They have English and Math games for children up to Grade 3.
- Hour of Code: If you have a child 7 years and older, I highly recommend you teach them to code. Hour of Code has several one-hour tutorials that teach coding in a fun approach.
- Top Marks: Math and English learning games.
- ICT Games : Math and English games aimed at children between 5 and 8 years old.
- MathsFrame: Free Math games covering different skills.
- SpellingFrame: Free English games
- Houston Science: Great science videos here
- Fun Brain
- Splash Learn
- PBS Kids
- Highlights Kids
- Cool Math 4 Kids
- Math Game Time
- Unit for Literacy
- Science Kids
- Switch Zoo
- Turtle Diary
- e-Learning for Kids
(Please check back. I will come back continue adding links)
Creating a simple stay at home routine.
Now that the children are at home, you may need a tweak to your daily routine that involves studying, playing and cooperating with you to take care of the house.
You can read this article where I write about my Daily Stay at Home Mom Routine. It doesn’t change much for me through the year. This is STILL the routine that I am using.
Do you really need a routine at this time?
I know I am the go to person for routines and charts here. You probably came here for the routine first but… I’d like to say:
Please don’t make yourself stick to a schedule or routine just because you saw it online.
I have been seeing a lot of routines going around – all color coded with hours and activities planned.
If you think you can control your children’s life with routines, please throw it out! That’s not the purpose of routines.
Routines and schedules help give structure to your day. They are written down rough ideas on what you will do daily.
Some families do well with schedules, some need a more relaxed flexible one. Some families are more laid back. No two families are the same. You know your family better than anyone else.
If you have never done this before and this is your FIRST time thinking about making a routine, take it very slow.
By all means yes, have some structure to your day. Find out how you can work with your children on this. Get your children involved with you. Just remember that they don’t need you to fill ALL their time. They are kids… they need love and attention but they don’t need you to entertain them 24/7.
No matter how little they are, if they are in school, they are old enough to play by themselves.
Try to remember that these are emergency times, you have to focus on being as relaxed and back to Safe Mode kind. If you have never done sensory bins at home and it overwhelms you, don’t be a martyr. 😐 Your job at this time is just to ensure that they aren’t playing lego and eating snacks all day. 🙂
Fun and Free activities to do with your children at home.
Whether you have toddlers or preschoolers or bigger kids, children will need activities to keep them busy. Little children may need guided play but as they grow up, kids generally find their own ideas. I highly encourage independent play in my own children but from time to time, I will show them activities that I myself have enjoyed. Here are a few ideas for you.
Paper and other crafts
Kids love paper crafts. It is the cheapest and fastest way to engage a child. They will enjoy making it by themselves if they are older but no matter their age, they will play with the toy for days…
- How to make an Origami Crow Puppet
- Origami Frog Craft for Kids
- Paper planes and boats
- Paper pockets and cootie catchers
- Windmills and Spinners
- Paper mâché using waste paper
- Crafts using gift wrapping paper
- Snowflakes and learning about geometric designs and symmetry. Great for scissor practice too
- Using old waste card to make paper crafts
- Recycling old calendars to make bookmarks
- Recycling old calendars tomato math games and puzzles
- Sticking stickers . Teaching children to recognize letters
- Painting on tissues with water
- painting on a blackboard or floor with water
- flowers using recyclable material
- Pompom puppets using scraps or old yarn
- 25 finger puppet ideas
- Sewing on card
- Make your own soft toy- Sewing with felt
- Keychains with lace
- recycling old clothes to make bags
- culture based crafts .
- Mixed art crafts
- Cartoon themed crafts like this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pencil holder
- Felt shape letter match sorting activity
- Paper sloths
Sensory play is the best way to relax a child. It helps in controlling anxiety, encourages vocabulary and helps your child with gross and fine motor skills. Whether it is play dough or sensory bins or even water play, children need sensory activities to help develop their brains.
Here are a few of my sensory play related posts to help you.
Sensory Rice or other grains.
It is very easy to make sensory rice. See my recipe here. You can use this same recipe to dye chickpeas too. Other beans like kidney beans or lima beans don’t need coloring. We have used almost all kind with my children, but sensory rice always remained our favorite. One box of rice lasted me almost three years.
What can you do with Sensory Rice or grains?
- Make a sensory bin. Fill a tub with your choice of sensory material and add a theme to it. Animals, alphabets, lego, dinosaurs, superheroes… anything your child is currently obsessed with. (Not suitable for babies and toddlers. children under 3 years of age need supervision at all times.)
- Make a sensory bottle. Fill a Voss bottle or a plastic water bottle with your sensory rice or another grain and add a few alphabets or small toys. Glue the bottle tightly shut. Kids can shake it or roll it to make sound and also peek-a-boo the toys inside. (Suitable for babies and older kids)
Another ingredient that we enjoyed playing with is semolina. It is fantastic for creating art. Check out our idea here.
Kids love to paint. Here are some ideas.
Finger paints using edible paints. Recipe to make paint is in the post.
Play dough and Slime
Kids love play dough. We have many favorites like these:
- Jello Play Dough. Science experiment and teaching scientific process using play dough
- Two ingredient play dough, moon sand, cloud dough and slime recipe.
- Two ingredient play dough here too.
- Rooh Afza play dough for Ramadan.
- Edible Playdough for babies.
- Monster Slime
Basic play dough recipe
If you need my basic play dough recipe, here it is:
- White flour – 2 cups
- Water – 2 cups
- Tartaric acid (or vinegar or lemon juice) – 3 tablespoon
- Salt – 4 table spoon
- Oil – 4 tablespoon
- Food color of your choice
- Mix all the ingredients (except the food color) in a non stick pan and cook only heat till everything comes together into a big ball.
- Remove immediately and separate into number of colors you need.
- While still bearably hot, add a drop or pinch of color (depends on how light or dark you need). Knead the play dough till the color is uniformly mixed. Repeat with the rest of the dough till you are done.
- Let the play dough cool before you pack in airtight containers. Refrigerate if you intend to use for a long time.
Teach Engineering for Kids at home
In a technology driven world that we are living, our children benefit the most when they are allowed to tinker, invent and discover by themselves. The best way to do this is offer them opportunities and the environment where they can learn and teach themselves things by themselves. Here are a few ideas for you:
Free Printables for teaching your child at home
My children love printable activities. I love creating new activities for them every few days. You can find almost all of them when you subscribe to our Free Resource Library. Here are some of them below.
Lantern tell time puzzles (Ramadan themed)
Lantern Playdough Mats (Ramadan themed)
Teach your child Addition (available in Resource Library)
Teach your child Subtraction ((available in Resource Library))
Teach your child Sight words ((available in Resource Library)
Five Pillars of Islam Printable (Ramadan themed)
Let’s go for Hajj (Ramadan Themed)
Ramadan and Eid Coloring Pages (Ramadan Theme)
Organizing hacks you need when you are working with Kids at home
Working from home – either as a parent or a child, is not easy. It comes with our own sets of challenges. You cannot have the same environment as in school or office at home. There will be too many distractions. Here are some ways to stay organized.
- Have an allocated area for studying or working. You may want to rearrange your house (like we had to!) to have a separate office for yourself or hubby. Most families have found the family dining room to be best for studying together. (each child may need a headphone).
- Making sure kids don’t need you all the time. One of the main reasons why kids bother is because they don’t feel independent enough to do things by themselves. The best way to solve this is to have clear rules on what they can and cannot do. Make a list of things they are allowed to do. Like when can they have snacks, watch TV or take a bath.
- Create a Snack Station n your home where they now snacks are stored.
- Create a breakfast station in your home. Kids can make their own breakfast or quick meal like a sandwich without having to wake you up or making you get up from your desk.
- Fix work hours for yourself. If you don’t have fixed office time (when you are your desk) or kitchen time (when you will cook) or Laundry time (when you start the washer) it will overwhelm you to do things on the fly.
- Make cleaning a family affair. With everyone at home, there is going to be mess. More hands are better than two hands who are doing everything. So get your children and your spouse involved. Make it fun… treat them like your team. Appoint people in charge, give out specific responsibilities rather than expecting that they will know what do.
Here is a helpful article. How to find time for everything in your life.
Sanity Saving tips for Managing a Home
Mom, you are doing great!
Give yourself a pat on the back. Just look at what all you’re doing for your child/children.
You are keeping calm at this difficult time. (At least in front of them!) You are making sure everyone is fed and attended even though this is ‘overtime’ for us now that kids are at home.
You are spending quality time with your children. Look at how much you are thinking about their needs.
Many, many children are anxious about what’s happening right now. You are being their SAFE place. Having you there to connect with and love on them is the most important thing. I know you’re worried you might not be patient enough. I know you’re worried about not meeting all of their educational needs. But you are actually rocking it for your kids!
I know you are worried that the kids are at home and you have to teach them. You are their best teacher. I know that sounds so cheesy at the moment but… look at all the things your child learnt in all these years. From using the toilet by themselves to tying their shoelaces and dressing themselves, just look at all the stuff they know because of you!
Hang in there. You will get through this. Schools are going to be out for just a few weeks. Your children don’t need to learn from books all this time. The mere fact that they are hanging out with you is Learning. They will watch you and learn. Just keep them with you. Let them do simple things … while cooking, while doing house chores, play simple games with them.
Read to them for 15 minutes. Cook as a family – clean as a family. Pray as a family. Study the Quran as a family.
Focus on doing this together as a family. Focus on more mental peace. Limit social media and watching news. Personally, I have cut back on Social media to one -two time and I am checking my messages only for my teachers and immediate family members.
We are all so stressed out at this time. Why cause more tension by reading about how many people have been added to the ‘list’?
Turn off the WIFI when not in use. This helps children understand that we are giving them full attention.
Focus on peace, health and happiness. God Willing, things will improve soon. Don’t stop praying!
Managing the home takes a chunk of our energy. Then there are specific mental blocks that stress us out. Here are some helpful articles on this blog that can help you.
DIY activities for Moms at home
Are you a crafty mom?
One of the best ways to manage stress is to do some craft if you are the crafty kind. After all there must be something in life that defines us that we called as ‘This is Me.’ Here are some craft ideas for you.
My recommended one click solutions for kids activities
Don’t have time to plan Kids activities, I highly recommend these resources:
Take the 5 Day “Play Beside Me” Challenge and you will..
Have simple go-to activities that keep your child busy playing beside you when you need to get the dishes done, fold the laundry, or call a friend.
Discover that you can keep him engaged (without having to completely focus on him) and also create memories for your child.
Keep your child entertained and occupied without being directly involved for long enough to get your work done.
Notice a better attitude in your home when you have things to keep her out of your hair that are fun, and don’t require too much time or materials.
Spend more time being with your kids when you’re able to, and not feel guilty when you don’t, when you have a week with a supply list and an activity to do each day!
(More ideas to be added. Please check back)