Joanna Thompson
March 20, 2020

With students home from school for at least 5 weeks, Joanna Thompson, parent of kindergarten student Lynnie, former elementary educator and current WNY Director of Peaceful Schools, has some suggestions on how to not only “get through this” but maintain and build relationships and connections while doing so.

1) Set a routine:  This will be helpful for your child and yourself.  Some set the routine by time, while for others it may work better by activity.  You know your child best and you know yourself best.  For Lynnie, it works best if she has a chart with pictures on it showing what she needs to accomplish every day.  It doesn’t matter the time of day or the order, as long as it gets done.  Lynnie can then mark it complete when she finishes and see everything she accomplished at the end of the day.

2) If you’re fortunate enough to be in a school district that has sent home work and resources, that is wonderful. However, I know that is not the case for all schools.  First, do the best you can.  Teachers know you are not all trained educators.  They also know that many of you have the responsibility to work from home while taking care of your child/children as well.  It’s not a competition.  As long as your child has some consistency and reinforcement, they are better off than the day before.

3) Make it fun: Use this opportunity to have your children learn through nontraditional methods.  That can be learning math through baking (measuring, etc.), completing a science  project with the materials you have at home (old moldy bread) or just switching up where you do your work:  (laying on the carpet while doing site word rhyming instead of sitting at a desk or table).  By making it fun and different, it gets a little less monotonous each time you are “doing the work”.

4) Reach out: Many teachers are doing daily online videos.  Allow and encourage your children to participate.  Not only will it help them academically, it will help keep them connected.  If you as the parent have questions, don’t be afraid to reach out.  This can be to your child’s teacher, family members and friends.  We are in an era with a surplus of technology available.  Use it!

5) Be creative: Again, we might not all have the exact supplies the schools do.  Your young child is practicing their letters?  Have an extra jar of sprinkles?  Pour the sprinkles onto a baking pan.   Give the child a paint brush and let them practice “painting” the letter in the sprinkles.

6) Get outside: We are so lucky that this happened in the Spring time and not in the middle of winter.  If the sun is shining, go outside for a walk.  If it’s raining, put on your rain boots and jump in the puddles.  You’re not going far, and you know you have to come home after.  You can change right away.  Then think, this can lead to a writing assignment if you want:  “the adventures of mommy and daughter on a rainy day”.

7) Look for resources: Do you know how many supports are being posted every day?  We are in this together and people are willing to share their talents and expertise to help others.  Multiple museums, aquariums and zoos are doing virtual fields trips; famous singers and performers and sharing their art.  Mo Williams, a famous early childhood author is hosting “Lunch Doodles” on a daily basis.  How cool is that!?

Think of this as the time you are getting back with your child.   Many of us working parents felt such guilt after going back to work when maternity / paternity leave was over.   What we wouldn’t do for an extra day, week, or month with our little one at that point.  Guess what?  You got it!  It might be a year later, 5 years later, even 10…but here it is!  Embrace it!

Joanna Thompson - Lynnie Thompson at school

Lynnie Thompson attends the “Thompson School”

Joanna Thompson - Thompson School chart

Thompson School sticker chart