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School Closed Due to the Coronavirus? Tips to Help Parents Cope

Children thrive on routine and predictability, both of which are in short supply right now for families across the country and well beyond. Despite the uncertainty in the community, you still can try to foster an environment that includes as much routine and predictability as possible.


The following are some tips to manage children’s increased time at home.

Validate first

Before offering some tips on how to manage the day-to-day, my first suggestion is to validate both your and your children’s experiences. Validation acknowledges how a person is feeling without agreeing or disagreeing. It shows children and adults that they are heard and helps them manage their emotions.

Acknowledge for your children that it may frustrating, disappointing, and sad that activities have been canceled or postponed. It also may be worrisome and stressful because none of us are sure when the return to more typical routines will happen. Let your children know that it is okay to have these feelings, and the family is going to do its best to make the most of these changes.

Keep a consistent schedule

Create a daily schedule that is structured for your children. You can foster a sense of collaboration and control for them by creating a list of activities and allowing your children to pick when they happen. For example, your children can pick during which hour-long blocks of time they do math work, science work, reading, etc.

Be creative with electives. Perhaps children can do a craft during art time, write a song that lasts 20 seconds to sing for future hand-washing for music, see how many jumping jacks they can do or choreograph a dance for phys ed, and do improv skits for theater.

Have a plan for screen time use

Screens may be in use more often now if your children are using online learning programs and virtual classrooms. If you have a screen time plan for your family, you still can keep that in place for the typical after-school hours. Your plan should focus on recreational screen time use, such as the use of video games. Review any screen time plan and limits with your family to avoid potential attempts to negotiate and argue. If you do not have a screen time plan in place yet, the American Psychological Association provides tips for how to create one.

Be creative with socializing

You can schedule virtual playdates for your children and FaceTime calls with family members during after-school hours. Platforms such as Google Hangouts and Zoom allow children to have virtual group hangouts, so there are still ways to remain connected to others while staving off loneliness. This differs from online games that allow users to interact with unknown players. It’s important to monitor any virtual interactions that your children are having to make sure those on the other end are known and appropriate connections.

Excerpted from “School Closed Due to the Coronavirus? Tips to Help Parents Cope” in the Harvard Health blog. Read the full post for more helpful tips.

Source: Harvard Health Publishing | School Closed Due to the Coronavirus? Tips to Help Parents Cope, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/school-closed-due-to-the-coronavirus-tips-to-help-parents-cope-2020031819238 | © 2010 – 2020 Harvard University

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