It felt like manna from heaven to log into Disney+ and discover Frozen 2. My daughters squealed.
In their infinite mercy, the folks at Disney decided to release the beloved sequel three months ahead of schedule to entertain kids stuck at home (and help their working-at-home parents!).
We are so grateful.
As we enter “Into The Unknown” of the rapidly spreading coronavirus, it’s true that “Some Things Never Change” — including the abiding charm of Elsa, Anna and Olaf.
For many parents, keeping up with work while managing the kids at home — and then guiding e-learning (!) — poses a real challenge.
So keep this in mind: You do not have to become Homeschooler Of the Year.
You have permission to be this bear.
Give your kids grace during these challenging, uncertain times. And give yourself grace.
Keep your sense of humor.
It’s OK for this initially to feel like spring break (with social distancing). Kids need a break.
Hello, Frozen 2. Again and again.
My daughter’s school doesn’t expect at-home learning to begin until Monday, March 30 because next week is their scheduled spring break.
But when you are ready to move forward with educational materials, take baby steps. Keep it light, make it fun.
Lean into your child’s strengths and main interests. If you focus on exploring one favorite subject and go light on the others, that’s OK.
In our home, that means extra art. Creative pursuits can be therapeutic in stressful times.
(We used this rainbow tutorial in our lead-up to St. Patrick’s Day.)
So with that caveat, here are 10 resources for the coronavirus social distancing.
If you read your kids even one book a day, you can count that as a success when you go to bed, no matter what else happened.
This Charlotte homeschooling mom shared two good tips here to incorporate reading at home with restless young kids.
Storytelling is so powerful, and right now we can benefit more than usual from the power of immersing in another story, another world.
My 3-year-old son takes such pride in his personal library, which we have tailored to his interests. (We love Virginia Lee Burton!)
2. Audio books
There are a number of good sites offering free audiobooks, including Storynory.
Doesn’t a Just So story by Rudyard Kipling sound like an antidote to the coronavirus panic? Consider this 16-minute reading of How the Leopard Got His Spots or this 9-minute reading of How The Camel Got His Hump.
3. Lunch Doodles
Mo Willems, the award-winning creator of the beloved Elephant & Piggie series, has responded to school closures by offering Lunch Doodles. Every day at lunchtime he releases a new drawing lesson via a video filmed in his studio. It feels like a pure gift offered by a creative genius to kids across the globe.
“You might be isolated, but you’re not alone,” he wrote on the site. “You are an art maker. Let’s make some together.”
Another act of sheer generosity in the face of the coronavirus? ABCmouse is offering free access!
Click here and use the code SCHOOL7771. (Update: You now go through a teacher or administrator, who fills out this simple form and is promptly emailed a letter with a code to share with all the families in the class.)
Be sure to tailor the content to your child’s age.
Turn on some music! Background music. Dance-party music.
Mix up the genres. Classical, rock, blue grass.
How energizing is The Corrs’ “Irish Song“? Revs me up to sterilize all the doorknobs!
6. Games for your brain
Find fun ways to exercise your child’s brain. Activities like play-doh, puzzles and memory games don’t feel school-ish but keep the wheels turning. They also foster parent-child bonding in a relaxed setting. (A perfect time to play some background music!)
The game comes with a poster that my daughter has proudly displayed above her bed. $9.59 well spent!
Don’t forget to modify the game to your child’s age level. My 6-year-old and I started with just 16 cards. Searching out pairs to set it up was part of the fun.
Keep moving during social distancing and destress through yoga. You’re never too young (or too old) to begin.
We like Cosmic Kids Yoga, which is based on storytelling, and we Chromecast it on our TV.
8. Kahn Academy
You might find the schedules insightful. Plenty of breaks are encouraged for snacks and playtime (ideally outdoors) for first- and second-graders, for instance, wrapped around a half hour of morning math and a half hour of reading. A bedtime in the 7-8 pm window is suggested.
The schedules also suggest educational podcasts for lunchtime.
Coloring is meditative — especially the slow pace of colored pencils.
Adult coloring books are popular, but they can overwhelm young kids.
I recommend Nosy Crow’s $10 Press Out & Color books, which allow you to pop out bite-sized pieces, color them and then slide them together into 3D oranments or hanging garland.
The small pieces are perfect for small hands and make for a fun team effort.
We recently gathered around the kitchen table to work on Nosy Crow’s unicorn book. I could hardly tear the girls (and my husband) away.
“This is relaxing,” my 6-year-old cheerfully observed.
And I know she appreciated that we were working toward a common goal.
(Are you sensing a theme here? Rainbows make any self-quarantine better!)
10. Lowe’s Build & Grow kits
Our favorite, the pullback car, is also available on Amazon for a couple more bucks.
I would love to hear your tips for maintaining sanity and avoiding brain atrophy during extended school closures. We’re in this together (apart), Minnesota parents!
And let’s hope for some warmer weather to ease our days!
Christina Ries is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and four children in Inver Grove Heights. Read all her posts at mnparent.com/charmed.