Discover the Difference: Keeping Kids on Track

by Diocese of Des Moines | March 27, 2020

St. Albert School student

School provides so much more for our kids than classroom instruction. School is our kids' social sphere, routine, and in many ways, their world. Nationwide school closures to help reduce the spread of coronavirus have sent many parents scrambling to find ways to not only keep their kids busy throughout the day, but to provide ongoing stability during this time of crisis. Here are some tips to help you keep your kids on track in the weeks ahead.

1.      Keep a routine. Kids thrive on a routine. In fact, we all do better with a routine. Keep a regular schedule that mimics their school schedule and includes wake times, getting dressed, meal times, recess times, allocating time for certain educational activities, etc.

2.      Keep your kids active. Play time is an important part of the educational experience for children, especially young children. Moreover, regular exercise is shown to increase concentration, improve academic performance, lower stress, help sleep patterns, and support a healthy body and immune system.

3.      Screen time can be an educational tool, but don't overly rely on screens to keep kids occupied. If you choose to have screens available to your children during the school closures, use screen time wisely. Many children are moving to asynchronous online learning while schools are closed. However, avoid the pitfall of allowing your kids to overindulge in screen time. Screen time, like all other aspects of your child's school day, should be scheduled.

4.      Children learn what they live. Encourage your children to keep their learning active during this time away from school by showing them how reading, writing, math and science are a part of everyday life. Let them see you read for enjoyment. Have them write letters to loved ones to say hello. Play word games such as Scrabble Junior, Boggle, ABC Bingo, Word Concentration, etc. Take turns telling stories, jokes and riddles. Ask your child to help you solve everyday number problems. Use LEGOs for unstructured math time -- ask your child, what could you make with exactly 100 LEGOS?  Consider taking a virtual fieldtrip together to a popular museum.

5.      Reassure your kids and reduce anxiety. A child's routine is their security. Right now, our kids security has been taken from them and they may not understand what is happening. Help reduce anxiety by talking with your children and reassuring them that you are here, and they are safe. Answer their questions in a factual manner that is age appropriate. Try not to editorialize or infuse your own concerns, fears or opinions into the conversation. And if all else fails, keep your kids busy. When we are busy we have less time to worry.

As with any schedule or plan, keep it flexible. Even with the best intentions, there will be days when things just don't work out or when you don't have the energy to follow through. That is OK! We are all adjusting to a new normal and learning to do daily activities that may be unfamiliar. Give yourself and others grace during this unprecedented time.

We also encourage you to check out these helpful educational resources to guide you in your planning. Be safe. Be well. And may God's grace support and guide you throughout this crisis.

 Educational Resources for Parents:

Talking with Kids about COVID-19 

Education companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings

12 Famous museums offering virtual tours

Virtual field trips 

Free online courses from colleges

NCEA Parent Webinar on Transitioning to Distance Learning for Parents

Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.