This past month found Caleb and I in a radically different place than we ever could have expected. I know we aren’t alone in this sentiment. The whole world has, is and will continue to be impacted by COVID-19, and y’all – it’s been hard!
And it’s not just managing the four littles, all of the school work, the constant close proximity, or the thousands of dishes; brokenness and trauma are needy companions. Part of our foster kids’ story was being confined within small rooms for obscene periods of time, so this quarantine has initiated some triggers for them. It’s not easy.
Most days I go to bed exhausted and worried if I will have anything left to give. But then I recall Isaiah 53:5: “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
When I reflect on the wonder of the cross and the beautiful truth that is so pronounced this time of year, I am in awe of the boundless love Jesus poured out for us. And somehow my heart, mind and soul soak up this deep truth: He gave it all for me, withholding nothing. It is with this truth that I find I have much more to give as well!
When I reflect on the wonder of the cross and the beautiful truth that is so pronounced this time of year, I am in awe of the boundless love Jesus poured out for us.
That said, there are some really practical steps we take in our house to help us get through this new normal of ours. First, we really work hard to keep a sense of routine. Since the beginning of the quarantine, our schedule has looked fairly similar to what it did before. Weekdays are school days with much more structure and earlier bedtimes than weekends. We have found that clearly delineating weekdays from weekends helps a lot. There is excitement for the weekend that helps the weekdays go by.
Most weekdays hold school-related activities. I have three that are school age: one in 1st grade, one in kindergarten, and one in Pre-K. (That’s not including the 16-month-old tornado baby. Not kidding – this tiny dude is a mega ball of destruction and giggles!) I was given the daily schedule from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher, and we plan out our day similarly in terms of activities, time, and sequence. I try to use activities that can be done by all three of my school-aged kids and tailor them based on what each is able to accomplish.
For instance, a big reading activity we do is story time. You can Google all kinds of kids’ stories, and there are loads of YouTube videos that have authors or actors reading them aloud. I have all of the kids listen to them, and then I have them do activities after that are age-appropriate. For example:
- Pre-K: Draw a picture of your favorite part from the story. When you’re done, tell me about it. (Addresses story retention and recall)
- Kindergarten: Draw the problem from the story and write one sentence about how they fixed it. (Addresses reading and writing)
- 1st grade: Write a summary of the story using four sentences or less. Make sure you talk about the beginning, middle, and end. (Addresses reading and writing)
An activity we do for math involves playing cards. I know it by the name of “WAR” (a card game where everyone lays out a card, and whoever has the largest number wins). We have the Ace represent the number 1 and take out the Jack, Queen, and King cards.
- Pre-K: Identify the numbers played in each round. (i.e., “That’s a 7, 4, and 9”)
- Kindergarten: Identify which number is the greatest. Which number is the least?
- 1st grade: Add all of the numbers shown. Subtract the numbers shown.
We also play this type of activity with dice as a different way to express numbers.
If you have Scrabble letters or Bananagrams, you can play a fun spelling game.
- Pre-K: Identify the letters (or make the letter sound if the kid is more advanced in this subject area).
- Kindergarten: Read the word your sibling created.
- 1st grader: Create a word (or several, if you put out more pieces).
I have the kids help me with sorting the clean laundry based on the tag sizes. They have to recognize numbers, or even months for the infant sizes. It’s helpful learning for everyone (especially me!).
We have also been spending a significant amount of time outside. There are so many easy and fun learning exercises you can do with minimal effort. For instance, we do science outside a good bit.
For example: Which tree is the widest in our yard? They make their guesses, but then I ask them how can they can prove it. This is prompting problem solving, addressing the scientific method (loosely), and formulating a plan. They work together on this a good bit, but it’s fun to see them take their tape measure and go around determining which tree is the widest one. They track their data in their journals so I can tie in some writing elements as well as introduce measurement metrics.
All in all, I have found that you can fill the day with school-appropriate activities that are fun, interactive, and helpful!