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Teachers, Don’t Go Stir Crazy: Ways to Engage Your Kids at Home



Teachers, the break is almost over, and this means you’re probably getting nervous about going back.

But if you are a parent and a teacher, something else is starting to bother you: your kids are getting restless, and you aren’t satisfied with seeing them play all day long. For one thing, they are probably yearning to “do something.” What they could be telling you is they want to “learn something!” And because we’re teachers we are ready for them to learn.


Here are a few tips from me: a dad and a teacher who always want to give my kids the edge but also desire to keep them happily occupied. The truth is kids feel unfulfilled if they haven’t been productive for some time, but come to think of it- the case is the same for adults.


A few tips to get your kids productive and learning and having fun in these last days before school starts!


Cooking

There is no particular reason why I am starting with this one except for the fact it is my most fun suggestion! In my house, we love to eat! Therefore, we love to cook. Cooking really can be relaxing, and there is nothing more productive than creating something with your own hands. Not to mention, cooking your own food is almost always more healthy than not cooking your own food. However, we don’t always keep it healthy. Below is a picture of my four year old and my eleven year old cooking very sweet banana bread. Hey- bananas are healthy! So, if you want to cook healthy or scrumptiously, kids won’t mind either way. Challenge your kids by allowing them to find scrumptious recipes that are also healthy. Or give them something they aren’t accustomed to cooking. I just bought tofu for example. We all love to try something new, and now we have the time.


Another added benefit is the “together time” you are spending in the kitchen. Because I have a million things to do and an older kid, they are spending time together, and I am just supervising by going in and out of the kitchen. One more idea to increase human interaction is to video record your cooking session and send it to family as a “Masterclass.” You can also take your sweet goodies to friends and family.


What do kids learn while cooking? Fractions, reading instructions, reading comprehension, and vocabulary to name a few.


Online Learning

There are free and paid online platforms to teach your kid…something! We say something because this may be a time to practice traditional math and reading skills, or it could allow them to learn something completely new. For example, my daughter, 4, learns ASL online. My son takes a cooking class (I told we like to eat!) They could learn how to code or exercise or start a photography career. The choices are endless. You could start with Youtubing or search for a website that offers these live or recorded videos.


As a teacher, we have subscriptions to many sites, so we can use those to educate our children as well.


Tip: I emailed my son’s math teacher (his weakest subject) and asked her what was the next unit they will be starting in the new year. With that information, he will be practicing on Khan Academy (free!). So, he will be well introduced to the material once school commences.


Art and other Quiet Activities

My daughter has a talent for art. I do not. However, do as I did, and run out and buy some art supplies. Dollar Tree has some really good options! Have your kids create art. Make it even more fun by having an art exhibit after they have created a few pieces.

There are other quiet activities you can do besides art. Puzzles are one example. Building models is another.


What are they learning? Art education is real education. We want well-rounded kids that have multiple talents and interests. This is the best time to contribute to that goal.


More ideas? Research STEM ideas to practice at home. Most of the things to conduct these lessons are probably in your pantry or cleaning closet.



Practice Something

I challenged my son to complete a certain number of his band’s “pass offs.” He practices everyday, and now has more of them complete than his classmates. (At his school they record themselves playing, and turn the recording in via Flipgrid!)


Even if your child doesn’t play an instrument, they can practice a new language! Duolingo is free for all and has almost every language you can think of. Kids are sponges, so they may be smarting off to you in a new language sooner than you think! Don’t forget about American Sign Language as a great language to learn.


Help Yourself

My wife suggested that I add this one. Use this time to teach your child household chores that you’ve been meaning to teach, but haven’t had time. Then, once school starts back, you will have helped yourself because your newly trained little helper will be able to do more to help out around the house. Some examples are how to take out the trash, how to load and unload the dishwasher, etc. You may also be surprised at how early they can learn. For example, in the picture below our 2 ½ year old is helping unload the dishwasher. Yes, this should probably be after you removed the knives and the fine china! The point is, kids love to help, and you’re teaching them good work ethic.




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