The COVID-19 pandemic has created much stress and uncertainty in communities across the U.S. and world, combining very real medical fears with shocking unemployment numbers, businesses shuttering their doors, and schools canceling classes and graduations for the year. Most of us are having a tough time finding household basics, such as bleach and toilet paper, and fears are growing about the nation’s food supply chain. Truly, these are unprecedented times. And we’re adults! Kids and quarantine are a whole different animal.
Though we are surrounded by more negativity on a day-to-day basis, one silver lining is the unique opportunity parents and kids are being offered by this quarantine. Kids, being home all the time, are watching their parents closely. Parents have the opportunity to share knowledge with their kids and show them important things in life. Stripped down to nothing, with nowhere to go and no one to see provides an ample opportunity to focus on things that truly matter.
If you want to give your kids a solid examination of finding the good in bad situations, try detouring from the prescribed curriculum. This doesn’t mean you ditch math, reading, science, or physical education, but rather, explore some unique ways to integrate your own lessons into these subjects. Use the world around you to show off the things that are important to you — or the lessons you think they should know that they won’t learn in school.
Kids and Quarantine: 5 Life Lessons
1. Importance of staying mentally fit
The isolation associated with the corona virus pandemic will likely impact our mental health in some way. Now, more than ever, it’s important to pay close attention to your family’s mental health. Kids, in particular, might have difficulty understanding or adapting to this “new normal.” To help your kids stay mentally fit, you can take a few proactive steps like these:
- Limit screen time, no matter how tempting it is to let them play as long as they’d like to help the hours pass by. Too much screen leads to mental fatigue. Furthermore, teens can be susceptible to an increased risk of depression.
- Monitor their sadness and anxiety levels. Seek ways to combat helplessness by encouraging your kids to do things they can control in a world where it feels like we’ve all lost control.
- Teach your kids the importance of talking about their feelings. They’ll grow up knowing it’s OK to talk about stuff, even if it’s uncomfortable. It’ll also help them learn about empathy and connection.
- Using meditation and exercise as an outlet — treat it like a P.E. class — does wonders for both body and mind.
To help keep the kids in a better mental place, try not to be too rigid or restrictive in daily schedules. Let them have a level of control over their days, as long as they get their chores and schoolwork done. Not only will they feel more empowered, but they’ll also become more skilled at time management.
2. The worthiness of protecting our planet
Kids today generally possess far more awareness about the importance of protecting our planet than previous generations, but there’s still plenty to learn. Put what they’ve heard into practice with these ideas:
- Get into a deep discussion about recycling, composting, and keeping as much trash as possible out of landfills.
- Eat cleaner and try to purchase “green” household items.
- Emphasize how reusing bottles or using cloth napkins instead of paper ones can help the planet.
- Make a habit of using tote bags instead of taking home plastic bags from stores.
- Upcycle old items for arts and crafts projects. Build birdhouses out of old plastic bottles for a fun activity.
Now’s a great time to introduce the idea that reusing and upcycling items can be even better than recycling them. In the process, teach them about the different types of plastics our society manufactures, uses, and wastes. Just watch kids and quarantine lead to a future generation of preservationists!
3. Managing personal money matters
Being quarantined at home is a wonderful time to teach kids about money. There are endless possibilities for the types of lessons you can teach your kids about personal finance.
- Show younger kids the basics of grouping, sorting, and counting by using different combinations of coins.
- Teach older kids how time IS money. Give them a special chore that brings an allowance and have them track how long it takes to do it. They’ll learn what their time is worth.
- Turn utility bills into budgeting lessons. Show your kids your bills and explain the difference between fixed and variable costs. (This can also be a great lesson in conservation!)
There’s no such thing as being too young to learn about money. From counting blocks to learning how to reconcile a bank account statement, there are plenty of great life lessons that can help children of all ages learn about money matters.
4. Value of practicing civic responsibility
Over the past several decades, interest in civic responsibility has waned. The COVID-19 pandemic has reignited awareness. From “We’re all in this together,” or “Alone, together” slogans and hashtags, to hearing about the heroes working the front lines, kids can learn a lot. This is a great moment to explain to your kids the ways people can help one another — and society as a whole — by getting involved. You can even try giving them some free cyber civics lessons.
5. Trying out other fun life skills
There’s no end to what people don’t know how to do, so learning life skills can be another engaging way to fill those never-ending days. Take a look around your house and see what fun lessons you can incorporate into your own home school curriculum.
- Teach driving-age teens the fun of shifting gears themselves by driving a stick, before or after a discussion of the value of older things that don’t involve computers or automation.
- Plant a garden and watch how food grows. The plant life cycle is fascinating, especially if you get to watch it in action.
- Illustrate the importance of measuring with cooking lessons (or teach the older kids how to grill outdoors and watch how temperature shifts when they open the grill too often).
- Demonstrate the value of decluttering your house with a big cleanup. Rent a dumpster — for as little as $150, depending on where you live — and you can simultaneously create an opportunity to eliminate all your junk in one fell swoop!
There are many important skills kids won’t learn in school, and now is the perfect time to show them, when you can have their undivided attention.
While there are struggles everywhere because of the current health crisis, it helps to try to find some positives. This family time (even if it seems like too much of a good thing at times!) is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We have so much we can share with our kids and information that we’d like to pass on to them. Take advantage of it while it lasts.
Kids and Quarantine: 5 Things to Teach your Little Ones, By Jessica Larson, SolopreneurJournal.com