It is not just public school children that have been turned upside down by COVID-19. Our homeschool children have been out of whack for weeks! Our kids are so out-of-whack that they asked us for the first time if they could have a “summer break”.
As a homeschooling family that has always schooled year-round, we had to get creative right away.
Giving our kids a summer break is going to look a lot more structured than their homeschool days ever were! These are the things that are helping us, and we hope it will also help you.
Up and At’em
Every race needs a starting line and in today’s reality, every day is a race. Most of the stress that occurs in our daily lives is due to a lack of preparedness. Encourage your kids to wake up and get ready for the day at the same time every day. In order to model this for your kids, you must do it too! Set an alarm and wake up at the same time each day. Change out of your pajamas and put on socks and shoes. Brush your hair and make sure your kids do too. You’ll be amazed at what it can do for your productivity and your kids’ if you just do this one thing. “But it’s hard.” I know! Before COVID-19 I could not do it. I stayed in my pajamas. I threw my hair up in a messy bun. I drank too much coffee and not enough water. I padded around the house in bare feet. COVID-19 turned my world upside-down and this little morning routine kept me above water. It’s one thing I am keeping after all this craziness.
Tablets, screens, and other things can be helpful tools, but not a good replacement for parents or babysitters. We noticed right away that our kids were asking for the tablets way too much during the stay-at-home order. Instead of taking them completely away (like we wanted to), we incorporated tablets into our daily and bonus activities. Now, instead of the focus being on Roblox and t.v. shows, the focus is on healthy habits. The kids are making a habit of using these tools for productivity. Again, you have to model this for your children. In our house, we have “fun tv” which includes video games and their choice of kids’ shows. In order to earn fun tv, they have to complete all their daily tasks. In the boys’ lives, as in our daily life, we use screens for productivity, so we’re illustrating this to the kids. They watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on the television, learn Spanish on Duolingo, stretch and exercise to fitness videos on Youtube, keep in touch with friends and family on Zoom and Marco Polo. They also earn game time and fun tv time, but it’s no longer the focus.
In a race, as in life, it doesn’t matter where your focus is if you don’t know the direction you’re going. If you want your kids to stop being little couch potatoes, you don’t start with throwing the couch and the television in the yard and making them run laps. The best thing to do is to make small changes that will make a drastic difference. Point out to the whole family what the overall goal is and how to be aware of your progress. The anxiety and emotion that COVID-19 has brought into our lives will be compounded with the anxiety and emotion that comes with change. Smaller changes and open communication will help. Start with required outside time, and go outside with them. Have them do exercise videos for kids like these, and have them do them together with their siblings or friends. It is easier to deal with a lifestyle change if you have a clear direction in mind. It’s the same for your kids. My kids wanted a summer break and we told them straight away that they still needed to have learning hours, so now these fun activities are easier to swallow.
The boys wanted to take a summer break, so they are earning it. Not only do they get to have the summer “off”, but they get to earn incentives for doing extra learning activities on top of their daily tasks. If you’re interested, the daily tasks include things like: chores, reading, playing outside, spending 10 minutes on Duolingo and writing with a pen or pencil, stretching and exercising, and watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Torture right? All these things take two hours in the morning, then the kids can do extra fun things to earn awesome prizes. They can watch a webinar, learn an instrument, do an art project, and many more things that earn them prizes. Their prizes include camping out in the backyard, staying up an hour past bedtime, a trip to the arcade, a date with mom or dad, and more! The kids think they’re working toward these prizes, but as parents, we know the real prize is the habits and health they’re gaining.
What are you doing in your own household to prevent summer laziness?