As schools around the world ask children to remain home, parents have many questions about keeping their children engaged and how to facilitate learning under unusual circumstances. Working and learning from home is a strange and foreign experience for many of us. But it can be meaningful and fulfilling.
Here are a few tips and strategies that can reduce stress and anxiety for all– while even sprinkling in a little family bonding and fun.
Goal setting and planning
Navigating new situations is hard, and children can feel this stress acutely. It’s important to start by recognizing this situation is new, and setting specific goals, as they will differ from a normal school day. Here is one of my favorite resources from NASA to help your child develop some “pro” time-management skills!
Research shows that learning and creating reduces stress as it brings back a sense of control and agency. And modeling lifelong learning for your child is the best motivation for her to be confident and excited about her own learning.
Learning about each other
Spending so much time together in close proximity can result in tension and frayed tempers if you don’t consciously exercise greater kindness and empathy. Use this time to learn more about your child and her thoughts about the world. One of my favorite lists of discussion questions is from Neil Postman’s book Teaching as a Subversive Activity (see page 53).
Learning with purpose
Finally, the most meaningful experience would be one that combines the above – learning new skills, together, and applying them to a real problem in your home, life or community.
We all need hope, creativity, and a sense of purpose – and finding it can be fun! If you and your child are feeling up for the challenge, here is our online curriculum that can walk your family through 10 steps of identifying a meaningful problem and creating an AI-based prototype to address it. Yes AI! This is an opportunity to get to the bottom of what the AI hype is all about 🙂
- Encourage your child to set her own learning goals and create her own learning schedule*. Give her (and yourself) some time to adjust to the new situation.
*After following any guidance from your child’s school.
- Encourage your child to engage in hands-on, project based learning that can extend for hours. Our Curiosity Machine platform offers hands-on projects that range from learning about biology and physics by building a graham cracker tower to building an air-powered spinning machine inspired by the spacecraft that transports astronauts from the Earth to the international space station.
- Encourage your child to pick her own incentives if she needs them to motivate herself through hard parts.
- Learn something new together with your child, like making doughnuts or how to build an image recognition app!
- Cram the schedule with a lot of activities.
- Fill the day with worksheets and learning only factual knowledge. It is easier to do, but is not joyful or fulfilling.
- Choose the incentives and rewards for your child.
- Make a distinction between “fun” and learning. Learning is fun and can actually reduce stress.
And the most important thing to keep in mind–turn off the TV and give your child plenty of hugs. You need them too!