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Ok let’s face it. We have been at home for weeks. Life is not the same. Many of us are hanging onto schedules by a thread. Some of us threw everything out weeks ago. If your family is anything like mine, you are probably seeing your kids (and probably self and partner) “acting up” or at the very least not responding to things the way they used to. I found myself trying to figure out a whole new set of responses and behaviors in my home. I learned that when my daughter starts to fire off “seemingly meaningless” commands and requests- she is really searching for a way to release energy. She in fact does NOT need me to make my bed, make her cookies, watch a YouTube video, and make Barbie clothes all at the same moment. She had both her dad and I looking like the Cat in the Hat before we realized that she was completely disinterested in all of these things as we did them. Instead, she was refreshed by just taking a little walk outside. Sometimes we just need a change of scenery to reset our engagement. We also realized all the old things were simply that: OLD. So, here are some ways to MIX IT UP!

Be flexible. Sure we like our schedules. I know some of you are out there holding tight to them because ROUTINE IS EVERYTHING! But really, right now, we need to be flexible. And this doesn’t mean we have to skip those classes or Zoom calls that are holding our outside life together. (Although I have been skipping out on many of those.) But we definitely can change some of the ways we work. Before this all happened, math time happened at our kitchen table, walks were for finding sticks and parent-only conversations. But now since they can’t pick up everything and roll around the sidewalks, my daughter has taken a liking to asking us math questions while we walk. At first, we were frustrated with her questioning interrupting our conversation, but now we have grown to love our math walks. She is in charge of the way we walk, and what we talk about. We take the time to count and incorporate math any way we can and it has made us a lot more aware of our surroundings. Other small things we have tried to refresh our days include: move the furniture around, get a box to keep toys in the living room corner and change them out every so often, create a mixing station in the kitchen that they can access throughout the day, set up an area with a sponge or paintbrushes and a small bucket of water so they can "paint" the porch.

Inspire each other: Sometimes we are just taxed as adults. Lately, I have found myself overwhelmed with holding all the pieces of my world together in my home. I often wonder what I can do to make the next day different from the day before. The best ideas come from my kids. I took a note from Phineas and Ferb and have added “What are we going to do tomorrow?” to our bedtime routine. This way my kids can talk to each other and to me about some of the things they want to try, things they didn’t like, and things they wonder about. Asking for their guidance has been the best way for me to keep the day interesting for them as we stay at home since I don’t have play dates and outside spaces at my disposal anymore. Take some time to inspire each other. If you are ever stuck- a quick scroll on Pinterest with your kids will inspire them to kick start a mega-list of ideas.

Keep it going: One of the best ways I have watched my kids learn is to have them make posters, word walls, and charts for their space. This is one of the simplest ways to activate their thinking and remind them of topics we are studying. As my kids learned to read, posting word labels around the house was always something they loved to do. Both of my kids have also had a hundreds chart posted above their bed so we could count ourselves to sleep at bedtime. THIS is my ultimate favorite for when I am too tired to read - I can count aloud in my sleep like no other. And for nights when I need some more time, my daughter can count until I get to her as I wrap things up with those last "mommy to-do's" we get caught up with before going to bed.

Wishing you and your family health and safety!

-Laurie Gracia-Alikhan, The Homeschooler Post

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