We are all experiencing unchartered territory as we search our hearts and minds in understanding how our world has changed in ways unimaginable. As parents, our first priority is to our family, our children. This article will attempt to give you some real practical ideas and solutions for following a routine, structure, fun and meaningful opportunities for learning as you and your pre-school child confront the challenges of everyday life at home.
Establish a routine that embraces flexibility but at the same time gives you and your child direction and meaning.
- Make a visual schedule of daily activities. A suggestion is to have this schedule be a hands-on manipulative device so your preschooler can feel, touch and move the schedule as it is accomplished. A Velcro picture board is one way to accomplish this.
- Your daily schedule should include all aspects of living such as hygiene, eating, learning, exercise, quiet time, rest time, household chores, family time and sleep time (non-inclusive of additional activities unique to you)
- If your child attended pre-school when it was in operation, try contacting his/her teacher and ask the teacher for a schedule of activities within the school day. To develop consistency with your child is important so if you can continue the same or similar routine, it will provide a sense of security, comfort and familiarity with your child.
Make learning fun and interactive. You as a parent may not be a teacher but with today’s technology, no worries. There are plenty of game-based learning platforms on the Internet designed for creative learning opportunities. To name a few, check out Kahoot and Mongoville Preschool. Also, many well- known authors are providing a virtual story time on instagram. Again, your child’s pre-school teacher is a valuable resource. You can ask him/her for a scope and sequence of a curriculum guide. You can also go on your state department of education website for its learning standards at your child’s age/grade level. This will give you insight into the materials, choice of books and other educational tools that can be readily found or easily made at home.
Built into your day should be some quiet time; a time for your toddler to be as independent as possible and at the same time engaged in a meaningful activity. E-books are a wonderful way to accomplish this and are readily available online. Several suggestions (but not limited to) are Destiny Quest, Sora and Bootflix. Allowing time for independent experiences provides your child with a sense of autonomy, self-reliance and self-confidence. Also, you gain some much needed alone time!
Story time reading out loud to your toddler is an ideal way to develop oral listening, vocabulary, sequencing skills, comprehension, curiosity and a life-long love for reading. Set up a cozy reading corner in the house and enjoy the comfort and the connection.
A time for family is a celebration! Establishing a convenient time for all members of the family to come together and participate in a whole group activity is fun, rewarding and will become cherished memories. Family members can create a list of games, music activities, exercises, outdoor activities, and shared meal preparation. Choose a family member to select from the list on a daily or weekly basis. Something to look forward to and enjoy collectively!
Take time to listen to your child. As you are most likely experiencing a sense of uncertainty, so perhaps is your child. Sometimes there may be explicit signs of this as in crankiness, resistance, moodiness or even bed-wetting and/or daily accidents. Soothing children’s fears by acknowledging the change taking place, letting them know you are there for them and encouraging them to talk to you about fears and worries can make a positive difference. There are also child therapists willing and able to do video conferencing or consultation if you are experiencing substantial difficulty and feel you need professional support.
Finally, know you are not alone in this worldwide crisis. Rely on family, friends, teachers, clergy and private and state resources as needed. Knowing this situation is temporary is soothing; however the uncertainty of its duration can be unsettling. Continue with your routine using flexibility as your guide. You will find a sense of normalcy and comfort in knowing you have direction and purpose throughout the day!
By Allene Grafman, M.S. Special Education Consultant and Advocate, Former Special Education Administrator