Crazy Times, Crazy Kids:

Creating Predictability for the Sake of Productivity

To call working from home with kids underfoot difficult would be a tremendous understatement. For those parents with a partner at home, or otherwise lucky enough to have an extra set of hands around, “shift work” is key. A little prep work and planning can be crucial to getting your young ones through the day, while maintaining your sanity. Amy Zuflacht, a former Assistant Principal and Early Childhood Director at the Lycée Francais in New York, shares a few suggestions on how to best arrange the day for the pre-K set.
Follow Amy’s tips to set your child’s schedule first. Then, schedule your at-home-workday to maximize productivity around predetermined parenting shifts. Teamwork has never been more important! And for the single parent, consider enlarging your “quarantine circle” by partnering with a neighbor or friend in a similar position and together, tag team it to share the responsibilities.
While there are no easy answers right now, bringing organization and order to our children’s lives will bring working parents a much-needed sense of (relative) calm. Productivity is the product of predictability right now. By having a plan in place, working parents can share in the responsibility of childcare and not lose a minute of precious worktime stressing about what to do next.

Are you going crazy with your Early Childhood age (3-5 years old) kids at home and not sure how to manage your day or keep them busy? As a former Assistant Principal and Early Childhood Director with two kids of my own, I understand that the struggle is real. Here are some tips and activities to help you get started.

Create a Consistent Routine

Children need routine. Consistent routines help to provide comfort and a sense of security for young children especially during difficult times like these. It helps them to form habits and strengthen skills. Routines allow children to begin to understand time and space. Using your child’s basic daily routine, adjust the time frame to allow for academic learning and other areas that would normally be taught to them at school.

Example:

7:30 Wake up and brush teeth
7:45 Breakfast
8:15 Get dressed (this will help kids feel that there is a start and end to their day)
8:30 Get your body moving (my children love to watch GONOODLE)
8:45 Academic activities (reading, writing, math). Use what has been provided by your child’s teacher or print activities from a variety of online resources.
9:15 Play time (Legos, blocks, etc.)
9:30 Science Activity
10:00 Snack
10:30 Read Aloud a story to your child
10:45 Free choice – (let your child choose an activity that they would like to do)
11:15 Art
11:45 Outdoor Activity
12:45 Lunch
1:30 Quiet time (reading, stickers, coloring, TV)
2:30 Academic activities (choose something different than what you focused on in the morning)
3:15 Sit with your child and talk about the day (how did it go, what did you struggle with, what activity did you like the best). Use that to help build the schedule for the following day.

Do not feel like you need to plan more than this. This is a full day for a child who is 3 – 5 years of age. Remember, the attention span for an Early Childhood age kid is on average between 5 – 30 min depending on the age. It is better to have a short activity and have the engagement of the child than to plan a long activity with a loss of interest.

Organize Your Child’s “Workspace”

Make sure that your child has an organized workspace so that they can be successful. You don’t need a specific desk or area unless you have one. You can just designate a seat at the kitchen table for your child. Provide them with the materials they need to do their work and make sure the materials are easily accessible to them. I suggest a holder such as a shower caddy or coffee cans. Fill these with pencils, markers, crayons, and glue. Make sure you have both lined paper and construction paper. This area should be maintained for work only and when it is time to eat, switch to another seat or a new location if needed. You should also move locations for playtime, free choice and quiet time so that your child doesn’t feel as though they have been sitting for long periods of time.

Center Activities Around Learning Through Play

Through play, children can simultaneously build academic as well as social emotional skills. Children can practice fine and gross motor skills and learn about the world around them. Since you are working with your own child, you can tailor the learning towards your child’s interests. For example, you can teach math using dinosaurs if that interests your child or read text based on your child’s favorite subject. Get creative!!! The more interested the child is in the topic, the more likely he or she is able to retain the information.

Sample Activities with possible teaching areas:

    1. Baking (math, science)
    2. Writing letters and numbers in shaving cream or paint (phonics and fine motor skills)
    3. Scavenger Hunt (reading, science, math, gross motor)
    4. Treasure Hunt – my kids enjoy finding hidden coins inside or outside and then counting the money (gross motor, math)
    5. Beading (fine motor skills, math, colors, shapes)
    6. Online computer games (some of my favorites are ABC Mouse, Scholastic, Nick Jr. and PBS Kids)
    7. Imaginary Play – dress up, restaurant, school (social and emotional learning)
    8. Chess or Checkers – if age appropriate (logic, fine motor, problem solving)
    9. Relay races or Wacky Races (Gross motor skills)
    10. Word or Letter Hunt (reading, phonics)

– Amy Zuflacht has a BS in Education, MS in Literacy Studies and MS in School Administration and Supervision. She is the mother of two wonderful and high-spirited boys, who live for her backyard candy scavenger hunts and shaving cream games. She is a master planner and activity programmer for children of all ages. For additional ideas and homeschooling suggestions, please contact Amy at amy@mommawork.com.

 

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