How to Entertain and Educate your Kids during the Coronavirus

Posted by martin.parnell |
How to Entertain and Educate your Kids during the Coronavirus

Our Daughter, Kristina, is currently at home, with our two grandsons, Nathan (10) and Matthew (5), in Montreal. Every Sunday we Skype with them and they tell us about their week. These online visits are usually filled with news about what they have been doing both at home and at school. Now, however, it’s all about the activities they are finding to do whilst waiting out the coronavirus. 

Our daughter has devised a daily schedule and helped them occupy their time with various activities. One of these is under the heading “Field Trips.” Kristina has been online and found some virtual tours which not only entertain the boys, but, at the same time, educate them. This week, we asked them if to tell us their favourites: 

On the “We Are Teachers” website, you can find a range of tours for spring 2020, selected by teachers.

At Santiago Zoo, there are live cams showing a wide range of wildlife, including elephants, tigers, giraffe and polar bears and penguins. 

Apart from the virtual “Field Trips”, you can find lots of activities on Pinterest, from Arts and Crafts many geared to specific grades e.g. Art ideas for Grade 1 to hundreds of printable work sheets for all Grades e.g. Maths work sheets Grade 6. You can also think of your own activities. Why not give your child access to a video camera and let them make up their own video tour of their bedroom or your home. 

My wife, is setting them a 10 day Art Challenge. She will give them a list of ten words e.g. Yellow, Room, Big, Building, Food etc. and they have to interpret that word in whichever way they choose. It might be drawing, painting, cutting and gluing, using recycled materials or construction kits. They have to do one activity per day, for the ten days. It will be interesting to see what ideas each of them comes up with. She is also doing her own Art Challenge and will share her ideas with Nathan and Matthew – it’s a two-way thing. 

If you have young child you can get them to practice skills like matching e.g. putting the socks into pairs, when they come out of the washing machine to counting e.g. setting the table for dinner “How many forks do we need?” and asking questions when you read them a story “How many animals can you see?” “Where did the bear go?’ “Why did the ............?”  You get my drift. 

It’s probably going to be quite some time before the kids will be back at school and I know many parents are trying to keep them occupied, whilst they, themselves, work from home. That’s when a daily schedule helps. If you set aside a time, each morning, to give you child activities to last a few hours, it can benefit you both. It will also help them to learn independently. 

I know it must be much more difficult if the children are very young and I wish I had ideas for you, too. But I don’t. So, I found this article on the Make it website:                                        

5 tips for effectively working from home during the coronavirus outbreak, when you have kids by Courtney Connley Published Mon, Mar 16 2020 she writes:

“As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, at least 69,000 schools across the U.S. have been closed or are scheduled to close, according to Education Week, which published a state-by-state map tracking school closures across the country. For thousands of parents who have been asked to work remotely, this means extra challenges when trying to balance the demands of work life and home life while coronavirus remains a concern. 

Though many parents have had a “one off working-from-home day” when a kid is sick or the weather is bad, the reality of working remotely every single day alongside your kids will be a “steep learning curve” for a lot of people, says FlexJobs career development manager Brie Reynolds.

“I’ve been working from home full-time for about 10 years,” Reynolds, who has a 6-year-old and a 1-year-old, says. “I’m still just today learning what is going to work for us in the next few weeks.” Below, she, along with executive coach and author Julie Kratz and entrepreneur Patrice Cameau break down five simple tips for implementing an effective work-from-home set-up with your kids. 

1. Create a schedule

As a mom of a 12-year-old, 2-year-old and 1-year-old, Cameau says setting a strict schedule that replicates that of a normal school day has been helpful to her. “I can’t focus on my work until I have them together,” says Cameau, who owns a content-creator studio in Hyattsville, Md., called CAMPspace. Her 12-year-old has been occupied with completing virtual assignments after his school closed last week, but Cameau says her younger two kids are more dependent on her attention. Each morning, she says, she has them wake up, eat breakfast and get dressed at the same time they would if they were going to daycare.

She tries to get the bulk of her work completed during her kids’ lunch hour, nap time and the down time she’s set aside for them to be on technology. “I’ll be honest, there have been days where my kids have been home from school, and I didn’t set a schedule,” Cameau says. But she has since learned from those experiences. “This is my first time ever doing something like this because I don’t know how long we’re going to be in this situation, so we need to just try to move the best way we can.”

2. Communicate, even more than you think is necessary

As someone who has been working remotely for a decade, Reynolds says communication is the No. 1 thing you have to be “cognizant of and thinking about all the time.” When it comes to work life, she says it’s OK to be transparent about the fact that you’re also juggling the needs of your kids, so your coworkers aren’t caught by surprise. For example, if you’re on a conference call, it’s acceptable to sometimes say, “Hey, just a heads up, I might have a kid walk into this room, and I will handle it and get right back to you.”

“On a regular basis you might not want to say that,” Reynolds explains. But during an unexpected work-from-home situation such as this, she says “it’s absolutely critical” to over-communicate. It can also be helpful to create a spreadsheet with your manager and the rest of your team, where you each outline your emergency contact information and your availability for virtual meetings. “You should come together and talk about what’s going to work best for everyone,” she says. “This might mean more frequent, but casual meetings, or it might mean fewer meetings altogether.”

3. Set boundaries with your children

On top of communicating with your colleagues, Reynolds says it’s crucial to set boundaries with your kids when working remotely, especially if they’re school-aged. Right now, she says, it may be helpful to allow your kids to watch more TV and play more games than usual in order to keep them occupied. In this event, Reynolds says, you need to explain to your kids that this is a special thing, and this freedom won’t go on forever. Outside of being more flexible about screen-time, Reynolds says you should also tell your kids when you need to be in “do not disturb” mode. 

“With my 6-year-old, I had him do a little arts and crafts project where he made me a ‘stop’ sign and a ‘go’ sign for my office door,” she says. “He knows when he sees a ‘stop’ sign that he shouldn’t come in unless some big, crazy thing is going on. Then, if the green ‘go’ sign is there then he can walk right in.”

Kratz, who is the founder of Next Pivot Point a leadership organization for women, agrees with Reynolds. She says if you’re a work-from-home employee who doesn’t have a designated office space, then setting clear boundaries with your kids can be helpful. “You’ve got to have a place where you have private times,” she says. “That might be your bedroom, your closet, a guest room, your basement or wherever you can find a place where you can have uninterrupted, quiet space.” And to help keep this space quiet, she says, parents can use a system similar to the one Reynolds set up with her children.

“I always recommend to parents working from home to have a physical sign on the door with a thumbs up, thumbs down or whatever works as a signal for when you truly cannot be interrupted.”

4. Take breaks

Though you may feel pressured to overextend yourself while working remotely in order to prove to your team that you’re actually working, Reynolds says it’s critical that you carve out time to take a break. Nearly 90%of American workers say that taking a lunch break helps them to feel refreshed and ready to get back to work, according to the “Take Back the Lunch Break” survey released by global health and hygiene brand Tork. “Breaks are important when working at home,” says Kratz. She suggests that for every hour of focused work you complete, you take at least a 10 minute break to grab a snack, walk around or say “hi” to your kids. She also adds that a quick at-home yoga session, a hot shower or indulging in your favorite podcasts are other self-care things you can do when taking a healthy break from work. 

When taking this time to unplug and reset, Reynolds says it’s perfectly fine to communicate to your boss with a message such as, “Hey, I’m going to be out of pocket for 30 minutes or so at 1 p.m.” She says speaking up when you need a break or extra support is important. And it doesn’t hurt to also offer support or coverage for another colleague who may need a break as well. “I think showing that you’re supportive and also you need support is something that we all have to do at this point,” she says.

5. Alternate shifts with your partner

If you’re in a position where both you and your spouse are working from home, Reynolds says alternating shifts with your partner can make working remotely a lot easier. “I got to work very early this morning, and [my husband] woke up with the kids and made breakfast and did all that sort of stuff,” she said. After breakfast, Reynolds said, she and her husband then switched shifts throughout the day, allowing each other to have uninterrupted work time. If switching shifts with your spouse is not an option, then Cameau, whose husband is not able to work remotely, emphasizes that a strict schedule and extra planning will be key to maximizing your day.  

“One thing I do immediately when I wake up, in addition to following the schedule, is clean up all of their toys so that the living room is no longer a playroom,” explains Cameau. “For me, it helps to clear up space so that when I do have time to get work done while they’re napping, I’m not spending it trying to clean up toys.”

One thing I would like to emphasise is that you may think your child is just playing all the time, but most play activities can be an opportunity for learning.

Also, we all need time to play, so why not embrace the opportunity to play and have fun with them?

Stay Well.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality and his film “The Secret Marathon” was released in late 2019. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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