Many schools around the globe have closed their doors. In a move to slow the spread of the coronavirus, officials worldwide decided to keep kids at home. New York City schools might be closed for the rest of the school year. All that adds up to a lot of stressed-out parents and bored kids.
Some schools have moved toward remote learning. I'm sure there will be some wild success stories with some schools moving closer to remote learning even after the virus has subsided.
However, other schools and districts will certainly struggle with the demands and limitations of remote learning. Not all children have the supervision, technology, or inclination to make remote learning work, especially on such short notice.
Flood of Learning-at-Home Activities
So like magic, social media has filled the need for how to deal with all those bored kids with thousands of learn-at-home activities from thousands of so-called experts.
Now, don't get me wrong. I will certainly be trying some of these activities out. Maybe most of them depending on how long this thing goes on.
I'm here for Scholastic's free learn-from-home platform, and I'm curious about some of the virtual zoo and museum tours that are quickly bubbling up to fill our bored kids' days.
Don't Fall for It
But I'm not all in with all the perfect activities. Life isn't perfect, and I'm certainly not going to try to be a perfect stay-at-home-in-a-crisis-early-childhood-educator. Adults the world over are figuring out how to work from home, stay connected, manage stress, stay safe, and fill their days.
Legit parenting is teaching our children to do the same.
Instead of filling my daughter's days with magical activity after activity, I'm going to let her be a little bored. I want her to start learning how to figure out how she wants to spend her time.
I don't want Ella to grow up thinking we have to be busy all the time even when we're not, even when a global crisis prevents us from being traditionally busy.
This is a perfect time to get back to basics and spend quality time together, but it's also a great time to let her practice flexing her own creative agency.
The Improv Paradigm
Instead of moving from one activity to another, I'm going to use this time to observe my daughter and learn more about what she likes and doesn't like and how she loves to spend her downtime.
I designed the Improv Paradigm to track three elements: listening, openness, and collaboration, and I plan on using these principles to help Ella have the best quarantine possible.
The first important social skill is listening. I want Ella to be a good listener, not necessarily obedient but an active, engaged, caring listener. I want her to really see and hear people and understand their emotions and perspectives.
So we won't necessarily be making homemade Playdough, but we will be practicing our listening skills. We'll be communicating with each other about what we want to do with our days, and I'll make sure to be a good role model by making sure we actually do some of the things she wants to do.
Second is openness. I want Ella to be open to all kinds of other people and ideas. And I don't want her to be judgmental. So we'll be working on our positivity instead of making a baking soda volcano where I have to do all the work.
Finally, I want Ella to be a collaborator. I don't want her to be a tsar. But I also don't want her to be a follower, so I'm going to try to be collaborative with her. When she knocks over my block tower, I'm going to tell her it makes me sad, and I'd like to build one together.
After I push her on our tree swing, I'll ask if she wants to push me. We'll do dishes together and help each other make some meals.
Bored Kids Are the Best
It's okay to have some bored kids in the house. Take some pressure off yourself and explain to them that we have more time to spend together and it's a great opportunity to do things together and play together.
Boredom is the catalyst for creativity. Downtime and quiet make us nervous. We get anxious when we don't know what's next, so we fill up our kids' days with activity after activity. But this is a missed opportunity.
If you calm down and let them be bored, you'll start to see what they want to do. If they're really stuck you can give them some ideas. Or you can just tell them to go outside and figure it out.
In these uncertain times, we can be certain that if we give our kids enough time and space, they'll figure out some way to fill their days. Then all we have to do is join in on the fun.
You can also check out some of my everyday games here. These games are silly and fun ways to be more mindful, joyous, and connected, and there's nothing wrong with that.
You can also subscribe here to receive even more everyday games each month.
Have fun, observe, play, and connect.
And read about how to stay connected while social distancing here.