It’s overwhelming to be a parent of young school aged kids right now

They have so much energy — we have to help them spend it on something positive. So much curiosity that one adult can never satisfy alone. With such a strong desire to flex their social muscles — it’s almost impossible for parents to find a quiet minute. I know. I get it.

 

Outlines, lesson plans, and resources

Our school has provided a wonderful outline of lessons to keep us on track and resources that come with logins and passwords to catalog (that are really great game based learning tools), but in my house “schoolwork” has become something very different.

When I read that schools would be closed until Mid-May, I knew that I would not survive (the kids would not survive) 2 – 3 hours of learning time at our kitchen table five days a week. So, we adapt.

 

Meeting our goals and reaching further

We still log our Imagine Math time and Epic! reading goals most days, but we are taking the opportunity to go deeper. While my family of four is staying put, we are determined to start seeing the small tangled lessons each day gives us to unravel. I cannot give my two boys all of the attention they want or that they’re used to getting at school. But I can choose to give their curiosity my full focus in short bursts. That way we all learn and (hopefully) no one yells.

 

 

 

Preparing meals as a science project

I’ve had luck bringing my kids into the kitchen to help prepare a meal. I only allow one kid at a time in the kitchen with me, because I don’t deserve to be punished. (Set your own boundaries.)

Following a recipe and measuring involves science and math skills. Meanwhile. everyone gets fed. My oldest (age 7) likes to write the steps as we go so that he can try it again on his own later. In this particular lesson, he learned how important it is for a recipe to include ingredient quantities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening skills

We used to listen to a lot of great kid podcasts in the car riding from one activity to the next. Now, I struggle to find that same time for us to practice our listening skills because sitting still for 24 minutes is seriously hard work.

That’s when I hunted down a new 10 minute podcast produced by Tinkercast and Wow in the World called Two Whats?! and a WOW!. The hosts are engaging and funny while also full of great knowledge. Each episode ends with a listener challenge.

One of my favorites was to find a way to have a whisper conversation from two separate rooms — no walkie talkies. We fashioned the old string and two cups telephone, and it was a bust. But my youngest ( age 5) figured out how to use paper like a megaphone and we were all so proud and joyful for 20 minutes together.

 

 

 

 

Experiments

The last break I took with the boys was set up to be a fun, thrifty, and colorful experiment. I’d scraped old watercolor pallets and crushed the cakes into powder. I gathered five or six different paint brushes and my kids, and we made it to the end of the driveway to paint our outdoor masterpiece.

 

 

My oldest filled each powder-filled cup with water and started to paint. It was a letdown. Simply “meh”. The colors, while bright in the cup, weren’t saturated on the pavement. I was almost upset at my wasted effort when I realized that they were still painting anyway. They were painting with plain water! Experimenting with different brushes, applications, and designs. And as the time passed, our creation evaporated and we got to talk our way briefly through the water cycle.

The changing rhythm in our days has thrown my whole family off balance. But I am enjoying the time to explore and chase curiosity with my kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Varnado is the Founder and Executive Director of The Brown Note Community Foundation. She was born and raised in South Louisiana. Her family of four has enjoyed living in Huntersville for three years. With a background in early childhood education, she is fulfilling a passion to support teachers and to spread joy through this non-profit work.

 

 

 

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