How to make a COVID-19 schedule

As an art therapist and a parent, this suggestions come from both research and experience. Please note that there is no one-size fits all approach but feel free to use any suggestions that makes sense for your family.

I began with a basic structure, inviting my family to contribute to setting expectations and daily themes. This way, they become part of the process and their own learning. This can give children a sense of empowerment and self-esteem in knowing that they are heard. Self-esteem is critical to learning. If a child feels good about themselves, they will be more open to new information and challenge.

This is an example of our schedule. Although it seems rigid, it is not. There are times where playing outside takes an extra hour or times when the learning activity goes over by 30 minutes. There are times when math feels too much and we do a limited amount of time. I encourage play and flexibility and to follow the flow of the children. The age range is 12 and 7, so the schedule shifts based on their developmental needs as well.

Structure can help them to feel normalcy, stability and self-organization during a time in the world where everything feels unstable. It gives them a container to feel what they need to feel and to work through it safely with an adult.

IMG_3893Setting up the learning environment is also important to create structure.We chose a place in the house to dedicate to the “learning spot”. They gathered the materials they thought they would need and know where to go when it’s time for research or math games.

Although learning objectives can be important, remember to have time for unstructured play. Children learn through experience and we as parents can create teachable moments as we explore together. Connect, be with, and listen.

They too are grieving the losses that come with isolation. They have lost their friends; their school structure; their routine; their freedom; their sense of security in the world. Loss can often evoke complex feelings, which can come alive at different points in the day. Be gentle with them. Know that behavior challenges will be normal or that narratives of isolation or disease may come up in their play. Children process and express information differently, so when we are cued into to being a part of their play we may catch those moments to process with them.

Be there when they are challenged, encourage effort and model problem-solving. We do not have to be experts but we can create spaces of learning.

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