Social media is full of families adjusting to their new set of circumstances and a large part of that is figuring out what to do with the kids. We’re looking for places for the kids to go, how to get them online/connected, and then once they’re connected what will they do?!? Both of my kids’ schools offered links and ideas about how the kids can still do some learning while they are away from the classroom, but social media went nuts with it.
One of the first things I started to see when the first big wave of school cancellations happened was a flurry of schedule ideas, educational resources and activity ideas, and then, the jokes – at least this is the story that my “screenshot folder” and text conversations tell. Like anything kid-related, a lot of these posts and suggestions are people explaining to other people that what works for them is just plain old ‘what works,’ but kids, like pants, are never one-size-fits-all. Plus when television producer Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy), who works in one of the toughest industries there is, throws her hands in the air over “homeschooling” after “one hour and 11 minutes,” you know it’s hard work.
So I will share some of what I’ve seen, but I truly believe there is a heavy dose of ‘watch the exercise video instead of doing it’ behind a lot of these posts. In fact, Jenna Fischer (Pam from “The Office”) started her week by posting the folders she had made for her kids. Fast forward to today when her Insta Stories were filled with pride that she’d washed her hair again and plans to ditch the worksheet for cartoons today while she baked something she felt like baking – though not the full recipe to conserve eggs and butter. Myself, I underestimated what it took to truly enact a plan of activities and our schedule is still evolving with some surprise successes and probably predictable non-starters. Today the plan included ditching most of it as we figured out how to replace our only family computer which found itself with an undesirable amount of water inside.
Let’s get started with child care and internet access. Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County is discounting their childcare 50% while offering free care to families of healthcare professionals and first responders, this included the Edmonds Boys and Girls Club. You can find more information and contact them via BGCSC.org. In the district communication on Thursday, March 19th, the district said they are finalizing childcare options and if you need childcare they ask you to please fill out their family survey. They also added that they are working on a plan to allow elementary school students to pick up their Chromebooks next week and to look for more information on Monday, March 23.
If your family relied on time at school for internet access, I read in an earlier district communication that Comcast is offering two months of free service for new customers – they are also offering a speed increase for current customers. You can find more information and how to get started by visiting InternetEssentials.com.
When we first heard there would be time off, but before knowing how much, I rounded up all the options offered by Sno-Isle libraries, and there are a lot. They have online games, activity ideas, ebooks, audiobooks, and free streaming of some movies and documentaries – you can find that information HERE. As promised, they are offering daily ideas via Twitter, @SnoIslelibrary, that include Balloon Tennis and printables from National Geographic. They also just curated an “I’m Bored! Activity Books for Kids” ebook list that has some great ideas. It includes a book on how to make Lego Christmas Ornaments, origami options, duct tape project books, and different kid-friendly recipe options. While we’re talking about stories, I wanted to add that Astronaut Anne McClain has read some space and science based books from space during StorytimeFromSpace!
Authors, musicians, and comedians have been offering classes, concerts, and entertainment while our options for the in-person version is non-existent. PopSugar.com rounded up the online options to see some of your favorite children’s authors, some of whom are doing daily videos. Dan Gutman, who authors the My Weird School series is doing a daily read aloud, Where Are My Books? author, Debbie Ridpath Ohi has a “hands-on” session for drawing followed by a read aloud, and there are also daily Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, the author of the Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon series. We have done the Willems offering a few days this week, and we have each enjoyed it. Frankly, it has been an anchor in our family over the last few days for a group of people who resist order while needing it for normalcy and to avoid additional anxiety. Each session has been just under a half an hour and includes some backstory about how characters, books, or ideas have come to be and include drawing lessons and prompts, wrapped up with some Q & A. We are all learning things we didn’t know, getting to be creative, and participating in something together in a way that is not forced and doesn’t feel like “homework.” While my 80’s valley-adjacent girl vocabulary lends itself to hyperbole, these videos have truly been a ‘totally’ important and valuable part of the day for this wiggly group of people.
Once we found out that we wouldn’t be at school for a while, I rounded up some early offerings of educational opportunities – which include RazKids, Moby Max, and Typing Club and you can find that info HERE – but since then, the options have been coming fast and furious. My sister-in-law, an elementary school teacher, added me to a Facebook group called Kid Quarantine Resources which is post after post of links and free options to fill your time, if that is what you are looking for. This is also a place where people are asking for ideas and posting the results when they try out popular options like the YouTube channels Go Noodle and Cosmic Kids Yoga which both offer a physical activity that doesn’t look like physical activity.
One of the options that I have seen that is an option for older kids, is a Google Chrome extension “Netflix Party” which allows “groups of friends [to] get together virtually and watch their favorite Netflix titles on their computers at the same time,” and includes a chat room. You can find this option at NetflixParty.com and an explanation on how to get started HERE.
The virtual options are plentiful these days and have extended to musicians with John Legend, Ben Gibbard, and the Indigo Girls having all streamed live performances. A popular virtual option making the rounds is museum tours. TravelandLeisure.com rounded up 12 virtual museum tours that include the Guggenheim and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. This is one of the options I would like to checkout for myself, but I am still staring at my phone a bit too much as the news still sinks in. Along the lines of access to things you don’t always have access to, NASA has opened up their image gallery and we were able to watch a quick and interesting video on Curiosity during lunch this week.
Whether your schedule is down to the minute or it is all screens, all the time right now, there are a lot of options!
— By Jennifer Marx
Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.