Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

My daughter’s school is closed for a month. What now?

an orange cat pokes the tip of his nose out of a grey fabric gift bag

Lots of things about today feel hard, but I am pleased to report that cat noses are still cute. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Yesterday, my daughter’s school district announced that due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, it would be closing all schools beginning Monday, March 16 and resuming on Monday, April 13 (the end of the previously scheduled spring break). Today, our local public library announced it would close too.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few days on the phone with various parents trying to figure out what a reasonable plan for my daughter’s education for the next month might look like. I’ve also spent several hours scanning the web to see what my online options are. (At the end of this post, you’ll find a few of the more interesting options I’ve found.)

Basically, there are as many plans for managing this time as there are parents and educators willing to post about them on the Internet.

As far as I can tell, parents are planning to do everything from maintaining a full load of regularly scheduled course work to simply doing whatever it takes to get their family through the next few weeks without regard to any particular educational goal.

Jessica McHale's Covid-19 Daily Schedule is a color-coded chart with plans for every hour of the day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It includes a morning walk, academic blocks, creative blocks, chores, quiet time, and outside play time.
One of the authors I follow on Twitter, Jessica Lahey (@jesslahey, author of The Gift of Failure), posted this COVID-19 Daily Schedule from Jessica McHale on her Twitter feed this week. In it, Jessica McHale sets aside time for walks, academic blocks, creative blocks, chores, quiet time, and outside play time. I love that McHale offers two bedtimes — an 8 o’clock default bedtime, and a later one at 9 for “all kids who follow the daily schedule and don’t fight.” (Credit: Jessica McHale via Jessica Lahey)

I don’t know what we are going to do yet.

Personally, I’m tempted to use this time to teach my daughter some life skills that she wouldn’t pick up in school — how to cook a few simple dishes so she can make something for herself besides pasta and scrambled eggs, how to think through prepping for unexpected events like pandemics and earthquakes, and how to properly clean a bathroom. This plan has the nice side effect of giving me a helper to compensate for having three times as many people in the house generating four times the mess.

Education-wise, I’m waiting to see what her school offers by way of guidance. If her teachers somehow provide a regular schedule of work, then I will do my best to ensure she does it. If not, then I’ll figure out what matters most to our family during this time, and do that instead.

If I had to guess now, I’d say that in the absence of specific guidance (and assuming life permits), we will most likely end up practicing her math skills, maintaining her fledgling Spanish vocabulary using Duolingo, reading some books, and doing a bit of cooking, some crafting, and a lot of cleaning together. Oh, and spending time most afternoons playing some low-stress but entertaining game like Cantankerous Cats.

Honestly, though, if the best we can do is simply get through the coming month, I’m ok with that. There’s a lot to be said for granting yourself the flexibility to only do what it takes to help you, your loved ones, and your neighbors make it through the coming weeks.

Shannon Hale speaks truth. (Tweet from Shannon Hale, author of 30+ books, including Princess Academy and Real Friends)

Some online education options for your social isolation enjoyment, for those who want them

Here is a collection of free, home-based education resources I discovered while prowling around online yesterday. Links are provided for information gathering purposes and are not intended as personal endorsements. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list — it’s just a few of the things I’ve found so far. I’d love to hear what you’ve found for use with your own children.

Course/Schedule Planning

Directed Reading, Writing, and Creative Projects

What about you?

How are you planning to handle this unexpected time with your family?

Related Links:

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