Summer camp tips for homeschooling during the coronavirus
Many parents and children have now had at least a week of “homeschooling” during this time of social distancing, and most of us would readily admit that so far, we’re struggling.
As many teachers and school administrators have pointed out, there is no need to put undue pressure on yourself or your kids to match the level of instruction they receive at school. But as camp directors who provide a different kind of enrichment for kids during long stretches of time away from school, we have a different perspective on keeping kids engaged.
While families find themselves in the disorienting position of working, parenting and educating from home, here are some tips from summer camp to successfully guide learning during the coronavirus.
Stick to (some) routines
The color-coded schedules circulating on social media may be too extreme for anyone to follow, but it is important to establish set times to wake up, get dressed, eat meals, shower and sleep even though there is no school. Reveille doesn’t need to play at 7:15 each morning as it does at camp, it will be helpful for kids to get up at the same time each day.
Kids thrive at camp (and sometimes in school) because of a regular structure. You don’t need to pencil in an academic subject or art project for every hour, but you should give your day structure. Perhaps chores and academics during the morning, video games and Google hangouts in the afternoon.
There’s a reason we have rest hour and built-in downtimes throughout the day, and with everyone on top of each other at home, it’s even more important to allow these time outs. While it might be different by age group, we’d recommend taking a short break every 30 to 45 minutes when possible so that kids can stay sharp and focussed while doing their work.
With kids now home from school, there are more opportunities for them to help out and contribute. Just like clean-up at camp, or helping with duties in the dining hall, chores are an important responsibility for children. Along with the increased family time we are all getting to enjoy right now, another positive outcome of this pandemic is that kids can become more self-reliant at home. The more fun or gamelike you can make the chores, the more likely kids are to complete the task without having to be reminded ten times. At camp, our best counselors make clean-up fun by playing music, making it a competition, and creating silly clean-up songs and dances. Not to mention that when you give things a story and a fun title they are much more fun to compete for. Why else would our campers clean like crazy every Monday morning for 90 minutes in their pursuit of the Golden Toilet Brush award?
Variety is key
While school will probably send home lots of work for math, reading, and science, be sure to add plenty of “electives” that might include model rockets, online virtual museum tours, Lego projects, jigsaw puzzles, or making and flying a kite. As parents you can feel good about the educational aspects of these activities and children will enjoy having something different to focus on.
Don’t forget PE and Recess
While social distancing precludes large group games, kids should still get outside during this time and get some exercise. Take hikes, walks, shoot baskets, play catch, or go on a bike ride.
Whether you join our daily Zoom meetings, or Facetime with family and friends, it is important for kids to continue to feel a sense of social connection. We want to do all we can to avoid our campers from feeling like they are all alone. And remember, social relationships on Tik-Tok, Instagram, Snapchat, or X-box are not the same as actually connecting with a person and chatting!