“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”– Harvey MacKay
I am thankful that T is oblivious to how serious the COVID-19 pandemic is. We’ve let him know there is a bad germ making a lot of people sick and this is why he is staying at home and has to wash his hands a lot. Beyond that, there’s no need to freak our five-year-old out with grim details.
This past week was March Break, so we’ve let structure and routines go straight to hell. Daily screen time limits have been far exceeded, bedtime is late and he’s been sleeping in past 10 a.m. Anything to keep the hubby and I sane as we adjust to this new normal of social distancing.
We are so thankful that our employers have allowed us to work for home. For me, this started on Wednesday. Taking transit to work on Monday and Tuesday was surreal. Rush hour was a ghosttown and I sensed the social distancing in the way people stood apart from each other.
We’ve mainly stayed inside with T, trying to fill each day with activities to keep him engaged. He told me on Wednesday that he missed his teacher and “Miss Kiki” at the daycare. It made my heart break but also fill up, because it reinforced to me just how amazing his school supports are.
While I’m expected to work from home, I have indicated to my manager that chunks of my days will need to be focused on T and ensuring that my hubby and I work together to maintain his academic momentum while schools are closed, which I could see lasting until September.
Routines and schedules are so important for kids with special needs like T, so we want to do whatever we can to sustain the progress and momentum he’s gained this school year.
I’ve started to create daily schedules for T. I’m focusing on the upcoming week and will undoubtedly need to tweak for future weeks. I have a fantasy ideal of what homeschooling will be like and I have no doubt that we will have this dream crushed by T’s reality checks!
It’s been so amazing and appreciated to see friends and strangers on social media share valuable online resources. These have helped me flesh out ideas for activities for homeschooling T.
Here are the different ways that the hubby and I plan to carve out each day with our T, who is now in junior kindergarten. This is gonna be a test of our will, patience, and sanity. Wish us luck!
- Alphabets and Numbers – T’s interest and ability in counting and reading grows by the day. I want to keep this momentum up. I bought a series of activity books from Costco that have laminated pages. Activities, including tracing letters and numbers, can be done repeatedly with washable markers. You can also find free printable activity sheets online, such as from Education.com.
- Books – Reading together is a great way to pass the time and helps build T’s vocabulary, knowledge and reading skills. Thanks to family and friends, T has a nice personal library. Public libraries around the world have also increased the availability of their eBooks, so check your local library to see what they have. You can also find online resources, such as OpenLibrary.org.
- eLearning – Keeping screentime limits in mind, we will undoubtedly rely on educational TV shows such as Sesame Street and TVOKids, websites and apps to supplement T’s learning, while giving the hubby and I time to do our own work. Our family loves Khan Academy Kids, a fantastic app with wonderful short and relevant school-aligned activities.
- Music and Dance – The librarian in me loves music and dance time. It supports learning, creativity and physical activity. YouTube is a fantastic resource for finding a plethora of child-appropriate song and dance inspiration. Here’s one of many examples of librarian-created story and rhyme videos that parents can use with their little ones.
- Arts and Crafts – We stocked up on supplies at the dollar store to help T pass the time and to minimize his screen time. I actually dread arts and crafts, because it’s not something he particularly enjoys. So we will use this time to create things that he will enjoy, such as forts and pretend castles. Here are a few other ideas from Parents.com that we’ll be relying on.
- Science Time – Honestly, all I have on this list so far are baking soda and vinegar volcano, Coke and Mentos rocket launch, and home-made slime. I’m sure I’ll find lots of inspirations online as the days drag on and desperation sinks in.
- Cooking – Thank God for snacks, lunch and dinner time to help fill up the daily schedule! The hubby and I will use these moments to get T to help us make the meals and clean up. I also plan to carve out time each day for cooking activities, like making cookies, jello, popsicles and since it’s my birthday next week, I’m asking the hubby and T to bake me a cake!
- Chores – I believe it’s important for kids to build and learn independence from a young age, so I guess we have time to practice and build these skills in the coming weeks. Leaves from the fall need raking, laundry needs to be put away, rooms need cleaning, cats need to be fed, birdfeeders need to be refilled, and the list goes on.
- Outdoor Play – We’re lucky to have two playgrounds and a school field in our backyard. We’re aware of the risks of playgrounds during these times, so we’re exercising precaution and social distancing. We’ll also vary up outdoor time with T’s tricycle, kite, soccer ball, pavement chalk, etc. And evening walks, we love our evening walks and nature hikes on the weekends.
- Free Time – And thankfully, T’s at an age where he can also amuse himself. We’ll make sure we pace ourselves each day with ample free time for individual play and rest.
In the grand scheme, the next few weeks will be a minor inconvenience. We are so thankful we’re in good health – and hope to stay this way – and that we have the privilege to work from home, while essential workers are out there fighting this pandemic or filling crucial roles, such as keeping grocery stores open. We’ll share this message of gratitude with T.
Please stay well and safe. I wish you and your loved ones well during these unprecedented times.