Top 5 educational lockdown activities

Are your kids whinging, “I’m so boooooored!” every minute of the day? Is “homeschooling” getting on your last nerve? Do you want to restore equilibrium to your lockdown life and encourage your children to become good citizens who care deeply about others and can entertain themselves with only a blank sheet of paper and a couple of blades of grass from your garden? Do you want your kids to be the next Shakespeare (who apparently wrote King Lear during plague quarantine) or Isaac Newton (who came up with theories on calculus and gravity while “distance-learning” from home during The Great Plague of London)?

Here are my top five educational activities for your children to do during lockdown:

  1. Baking = maths
    There’s nothing like a delicious batch of ANZAC biscuits to munch on while you’re drinking tea, and in order to bake those scrummy treats, you need to practise maths. Measurements! Fractions! Addition! Following steps to a logical conclusion! Here’s an easy-to-make recipe for ANZAC Squares
  2. Cleaning = science
    Here’s a scientific question I’m dying for my kids to answer by themselves: What happens if you combine a bit of elbow grease with a wet rag and some spray cleaner on that spill you made on the kitchen bench? Why, a chemical reaction whereby the liquid of the spray cleaner mixed with the solid of the rag and the force of the elbow grease removes the stain. Voila! They can try it all over the house. Particularly the bathroom. And here are some other cleaning hacks you can share with them. 
  3. Hanging up washing = PE
    If you’re struggling to get your kids to do any sort of exercise during this lockdown, here’s a great PE activity: Hanging up the washing! Wet clothes are heavy, so there’s some weight lifting, and then pegging up each wet item of clothing on the line is basically like doing calisthenics. Toting the washing basket back and forth can serve as a circuit workout. Go a step further and show them how to actually put the powder into the washer, and you’ve got some fine motor skills, maths, and science happening!
  4. Scheduling themselves = time management
    This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but seems to be a complete mystery for my kids, who are constantly asking me “What am I doing next?” Have your children’s schools sent through suggested timetables? How about screeds of assignments to be completed online or offline, then loaded or scanned to a website? Video-conferences they need to attend at particular times? Make them keep track of it themselves! They can print out a blank calendar and write down their own assignments and due dates and deadlines and websites, and you can wash your hands of the whole thing, because trying to keep track of school stuff while doing everything else is exhausting. And if they miss something, they can be the ones to contact their teacher and explain.
  5. Quiet time = independence
    Here’s my favourite educational idea: Institute “quiet time” in your house and tell your kids it’ll teach them to be independent. During quiet time, Mum and Dad aren’t available unless the house is literally burning down or someone has broken a bone and it’s poking through the skin. Kids want a snack? It’s quiet time, so they need to get it themselves — and be quiet about it! Want screen time? Oh, sorry, it’s quiet time and therefore all the screens are verboten. Bored? Well, it’s quiet time, so you’re gonna have to figure that out yourself! Then sit back with a cup of tea, read a magazine, and watch your kids learn to survive on their own. They might even move out into their own flats once this lockdown is over, who knows!

Obviously the lockdown is getting to me, and I’m fantasising about all the things I wish my kids were doing instead of whinging at me. But if you’ve got some real, tried-and-true ideas about how to help them learn at home without compromising your sanity, I’d love to hear them. Especially the subject of Art, which, in my house, seems to be code for “Make an unholy mess and use all Mum’s craft supplies and all the glue at once.”

Katherine Granich

Editor, Tots to Teens

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