It’s coming up to the second month of lockdown in Sydney with my energetic primary school age sons and lovely (and patient) wife. Since this is the second time around, I thought I’d share some ideas which we have been using which have worked for us. Your mileage my vary!
First of all, let us reframe the lockdown as an epic cruise through
space-time, towards normal life.
With this framing in mind, think about the entertainments and events and plan for a long voyage on a ship, to stave off boredom and keep the crew happy and productive.
- Decide and family routine together and publish it on the fridge. Stick to it to give structure to the day. Make sure it includes recess and lunch similar to school – these are also when the family gets together from their separate activities during the work/school day.
- Have a guessing competition on the number of covid cases for the day (new cases & number in community) and a prize draw at recess (eg, a chocolate for the winner). Everyone records their guess at breakfast.
- Make use of every room in the house, balconies, porches, gardens etc to give more opportunity for privacy and space.
- Celebrate the end of the work/school week by ordering delivery food for dinner on Friday. This delineates the week from the weekend, and gives parents a break from cooking and everyone something to look forward to.
- Have international food nights once a week: choose a few countries for the first few, then when you run out, play pin the tail on the country with a map! Research the food, order appropriate ingredients and cook. Dress up if you feel like it. Make it a highlight of the week.
- Family kareoke nights if that’s your thing. I think dancing could work too though we haven’t tried it yet.
- Get kids involved in cooking whenever you can, they love it and learn too.
- Get lots of outdoor activity gear such as basket ball hoops, soccer balls, pull up bars, bikes, kites, etc to provide variety.
- Exercise every day to get out the the house (and usual exercise benefits). Choose a mix of quiet activity by yourself to get some space (eg, running) and with kids (eg, bicycling) and go with what you feel like on the day. Calisthenics is good in a park where kids can play while you work out.
- Make computer game playing time for kids a currency that they earn. For example, our kids earn:
- 50% of the time they spend on extra study outside of school for game playing.
- I review their school work at the end of the day and award game time based on amount and quality of work they have done during the day (in range 15 min – 1 hour).
- Chores like taking out the garbage/compost earn 5 minutes.
- Repeatedly doing something we’ve asked them not to do (or not doing something they are meant to do) leads to a fine of 1 or 5 minutes of game time.
- Ask kids to do a written accounting of their time before they use their game time, to check the amount of time and to give them practice presenting tabular data and doing calculations.
- Remember that work done at home by the kids for home schooling does not need to be perfect and fixed by parents before submission. The teacher can correct kids’ work during the day. Sure, there are times when the boys need help, and that is OK too, but you don’t need to sit with them every minute. Home schooling does give you the possibility of getting more involved yourself, but I like to have the boys work as independently as possible during the day and go over things with them after school “finishes”. This also allows me to get more of my work done during the day.
- For school work, if possible, ensure each child has their own device with a camera for submitting hand-written work, to avoid having lots of logging in and out to switch accounts, and fights over the device.
- Make an effort to stay in touch with friends via video calls (at least one call a week).
- Get good noise cancellation headphones for when you are working. For me this is vital.
I hope you find some of these ideas useful as we cruise on towards freedom.