COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 and Kids: How to Schedule a Summer Abroad or at Home

June 10, 2020

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If you’ve been under a shelter-in-place mandate with children these past few months, you’ve likely now gotten into a groove of what works — and what doesn’t work — for your family schedule and conflicting school/work/down-time needs. But now the environment is shifting again: the ending school year poses another set of challenges for parents of school-aged children, as many camps and daily sports and activities are canceled. Add on top of that, if you are a family that has just relocated to a different city or country, you may be scrambling for new footing and a sense of normalcy.

The days likely already seemed to run together since quarantine restrictions were put into place, but virtual classes and homework helped to break up the monotony of remaining at home. With school not in session, your children’s time is freed, and without the typical summertime activities to replace school’s commitment, your children may need new forms of engagement. You’ll find helpful tips for combatting the overabundance of free time outlined below under “School’s Out: Pandemic Summer Scheduling for Kids.” Some families, however, may need more targeted advice. If you are living abroad on a short- or long-term assignment and are looking for new options, please find the tips directly below for mastering summertime quarantining with children in a new location.

Mastering a COVID-19-restricted Summertime with Kids in a New Location

  • Build excitement and knowledge about your new location by orchestrating a fun and relevant research project. Ask your child to research a landmark or structure they’d like to visit when things open again. This helps to build the excitement for when the visit occurs and forms your child’s connection to your family’s new location.
  • Engage with the indigenous flora and fauna by informing yourselves of the surrounding wildlife so you can stay on the lookout for unfamiliar animals or insects. While doing some of the only outside-of-home activities available (e.g., walking the neighborhood or local parks and trails), have a “treasure hunt” for certain birds, reptiles, or bugs your child has never seen before. This will add a new layer of interest to your child’s ventures outdoors.
  • Follow a regional recipe weekly. With dining outside the home scarcely an option, research a cuisine from your area and gather in the kitchen for cooking as a family. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in the host culture from the comfort of your home while expanding your child’s palate and cooking and cultural curiosity.
  • Take arts-and-crafts time to a new level. Build a local landmark with Lego bricks or choose a famous artist from the region to recreate their work. Living in France? Ask your first grader to add their own painting to Monet’s Water Lilies series.
  • Reinforce language learning. If you are living somewhere where the language is different from your native tongue, quarantining — and school being out of session — limits opportunities to hear it spoken in daily life on public transportation, in restaurants, etc. Add sticky notes to appliances and objects around the house with the object’s name in the host-location language. This will remind your child to engage with the language and grow accustomed to reading and using it. Turning on the local radio station or watching TV in the locale’s language (potentially with subtitles in your native tongue) are also approaches to aid language familiarity and retention.

School’s Out: Pandemic Summer Scheduling for Kids

  • Stay connected through weekly or bi-weekly video calls with family and friends.
  • Plan the week, especially if you are also working. Schedule children’s activities, tasks/chores to do, online educational videos to watch, chapters in books to read, and whatever else (e.g., friends with whom to video chat) that may break up the day. Include exercise activities to boost spirits and burn children’s excess energy; consider taking a break from work and joining for your own wellness benefits.
  • Keep a daily schedule, which includes designating shifts of caring for the children if your partner is also working. Also, aim to maintain consistent wake-up and bedtimes to regulate your children’s circadian rhythms.
  • Monitor computer time. As online school and homework has recently more than doubled children’s computer use in most cases, carefully monitor and alternate activities to avoid 24/7 screen time.
  • Increase “around-the-table” activities like board games and puzzles, which can make time at home mean more family time.

And while keeping spirits high may be difficult at times in this global landscape, knowing that your children will one day look back on these experiences fondly may be the incentive you need to play The Game of Life for the 25th time.

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