As Mayfield Junior School joins other schools across the nation in distance learning, our counselors: Maria Hodge, PhD and Susan Reedy, MA, LMFT offer a series of articles over the next couple weeks with recommendations on using this time away from campus with intention and positivity.
This past Friday morning, I [Dr. Hodge] met with Mrs. Dorr’s 4th grade class. We discussed how they were feeling about our unexpected distance learning that would start on Monday and continue for at least the rest of the month. Many reported feeling sad, that they would miss their classmates and teachers, and also worried about the health of everyone. And then one student said, “But I also think some good things will happen.” This shifted everyone’s focus to all of the positive things that could result from a special time at home with their family. Some of their ideas included: “We get to sleep in!” and “We can play long games with our family like Monopoly and Clue.” Building off of the wisdom of these 4th graders, and drawing from the work Susan and I do with our MJS students and families, here is the first of five recommendations we have to make the most of your time at home with your family in these next few weeks.
Play. We know that imaginative, creative play builds social skills and emotional intelligence. Playing with others also increases our sense of bonding and connectedness with each other. In addition, physical activity is a great way to boost endorphins, decrease our stress levels and make our bodies strong and healthy. We just can’t say enough about the importance of play in our everyday lives for good mental, physical and emotional health. So, make play a priority during your special time together as a family. Even if parents still need to go to work or work from home, setting aside some time every day for a fun game or activity will make these few weeks less stressful and happier for your family. Create a wish list together of all of the things you want to do and write them on your daily schedule so you have lots of things to look forward to.
Here are some ideas to consider for your list:
Throw a Dance Party in the living room:
- Find your favorite bands from the 70s, 80s and 90s and introduce your kids to your favorite songs and all your best moves. Have your kids teach you their favorite moves.
Rainy Day Balloon Volleyball:
• See how long you can keep an inflated balloon in the air or volley it back and forth without touching the floor. Use a coffee table in the living room to divide teams and act as a net (just move all of the breakables!). Kids love to play traditional outdoor games inside!
Expand the Peloton:
• Get that rusty bike of yours out of the garage, grease the chain and ride around the block with your kids. When you have fully regained your balance, take the bike to Lacy Park and do the loop with the kids.
Explore outdoor spaces and go for a hike:
• Don’t forget the sunscreen and plenty of water! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Play basketball in the driveway or toss a baseball in the backyard:
• Challenge your child to a game of 1:1 or HORSE. Even if you don’t consider yourself a skilled player, your kids will love it if you join them in the activities they enjoy!
Old School Yard Games:
• Dust off that Bocce ball set or croquet mallets that have been gathering dust in the garage and set them up in the yard. Get out the badminton set and have a rowdy family game.
• Draw some hopscotch squares or an obstacle course on the driveway for homeschool P.E. Create a masterpiece in the driveway for art class.
Practice your instrument:
• If you don’t actually play an instrument, but you have one around the house, find a YouTube tutorial and figure it out!
• Get out that old tub of Legos and organize them (by color, or shape or design). Try to rebuild some of your favorite creations from “childhood.” Watch the new LEGO masters TV show together and try to complete some of their challenges.
Solve a Rubiks Cube:
• After you have memorized all the patterns to solve all sides, start timing yourself and see if you can improve your performance time. Facetime a friend and challenge them to a battle to see who can complete it first!
• Work a puzzle with the family. Start with 100 pieces and work your way up to 1000. (We have plenty of time here…)
Bored, I mean Board Games!
• Set up an extra table that you don’t have to clear for dinner time, and put out that board game that can take hours (or days) to complete, like Monopoly or Risk, and leave it out to play and return to until the game is over.
Organize all the Tupperware:
• Make sure that they all have matching lids and donate what you don’t really need anymore. This is a great activity for kids of all ages!
• Let the kids go through your closet and create costumes from those clothes that you have stuffed way in the back (or pull all the old Halloween costumes down from the attic)
• Give them an afternoon to write and produce a three-act play.
Ask your kids what they want to do and play with them. These are the moments you will look back on as a parent and cherish -- all of the happy times of feeling connected with your children and enjoying time together. Think of this time as a special opportunity, a clean slate, to create whatever you want for your family life. Think carefully about the intentions you want to set for this time, share them with your family and maybe even write them down and post them on the refrigerator for everyone to see. Ask your children what they want to see more of in your family and talk about what you can do together to make that happen. Maybe you want more joy, or kindness or fun. Whatever your dreams for your family, use this special time together to find lots of creative ways to make them happen! We have been given a gift of time with our family and loved ones to enjoy being together and create memories.
Here are some additional resources on Play and Parenting:
Additionally here are some resources we recommend for talking with your children about the coronavirus