• Cara Parker

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Kids in a School Shutdown

\With schools shutting down everywhere, parents are left scrambling, trying to figure out how to keep watch over their children, while also trying to figure out how to do their own work.

There is one thing that I believe will make the difference between actually having productive days and having days of chaos:

Have a plan.

Every day, students walk into their classrooms, and immediately look on the board to see what the day's plan is. If the teacher forgets, they ask about it. Kids are resilient. Kids can be flexible. Kids can also be independent workers. But kids want to know what the next few hours will involve.

Obviously, as you are trying to figure out how to balance being a work-at-home parent who is also entertaining your child, you need to be flexible. To plan for many hours is impossible.

What I would suggest is chunking your day.

Have a plan from breakfast to lunch. Then, at lunch, have a plan from lunch until dinner. If you can help your child keep a routine and follow a plan, you will be able to find that you might actually get things done.

To start, consider spending time this weekend creating index cards or paper strips with activities. Involve your children in the process.Younger children can illustrate the cards. Older children can write them out. Go through the toys. Look around the house. There are probably hundreds of things that they have not played with in a long time.

Every morning at breakfast, have them choose three things that they can do independently from breakfast to lunch. Insert ten-minute breaks like snack, or read a book with a parent, or take the dog for a walk.

At lunch, replan for the afternoon. Include some rest time. Include some TV or ipad time. Figure out how to get some outside play while you take a phone call or do some work outdoors.

The fact is, you ARE going to need to rely on TV or the iPad to keep them entertained for some time. But, kids are going to naturally fall towards technology. It's easy. It's mindless. But, if they spend 8 hours a day on a screen, they are going to be cranky and unreasonable.

Click here to download my list of things that elementary school kids can do during this time. For tips for teenagers, click here.

You've got this. You just need to remind them that they are independent at school, and they can do the same at home.

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