• Heather Pawelkiewicz

Balancing Technology and Experiences in the Wake of National Homeschooling

Now that I am working from home, and baseball and softball are on hold, I actually have the opportunity to blog once again. This is just one of my silver linings in the thick of this pandemic. Before I start, I would just like to applaud all of the parents and teachers out there. You truly deserve a standing ovation. This is uncharted territory and from what I am seeing on Facebook and Instagram, we have all been working together beautifully. The comments have been positive and uplifting. And everyone has been putting the children first. I have never seen parents and teachers work so seamlessly together. And, it looks like some of the parents have some mad teaching skills. Way to go!!!! It may not be Common Core, but our children are learning nonetheless.

The OFY team is not too keen on nonstop technology, but we do realize that our students are blessed to have this technology and the ability to connect with friends and teachers during this time of "social distancing." Despite most of the learning being digital, we can still provide our children with a variety of opportunities that don't include a screen.

If you are currently not working or working from home, the OFY team encourages you to have meaningful engagement with your child(ren). Some good activities for stimulating language skills include:

*Use a mirror - put your baby in front of it and talk to them and watch as they have a conversation with their reflection (great time to incorporate tummy time).

*Narrate your day - tell baby what you are doing - laundry, cooking, cleaning; your baby is always a captive audience.

*Outdoors - get your baby outside to hear the sounds of nature and feel the sunshine on their face.

*Imaginative Play - Use an empty box and transform it into a castle, restaurant, or classroom with some scissors, crayons, and markers.

*Read outdoors - create a natural "book nook" and listen to the sounds of nature as you and your little one read together.

*Make a garden - discuss the steps to set up a garden and talk about the funny names of the plants and flowers; allow your child to get dirty and feel the dirt and seeds in between their fingers.

*Play a board game - some fun ones are Guess Who, Pop the Pig, Candy Land, Headbanz, Rummikub, Uno, Go Fish, Clue (great inferencing for the older kids), 99 (but be careful, the family will get super competitive with this card game and we may be stuck in the house for a long time together), Battleship, and many others.

*Go outside with sidewalk chalk and bubbles - talk about what your child is drawing, ask them questions, and just enjoy the conversation.

Some activities to keep your little ones active and hone in on those fine and gross motor skills…

*Play with your little one in different positions - hands and knees, criss cross applesauce, stomach lying, or tall kneeling

*Core strengthening - Have them climb onto taller household furniture (ie. sofas, beds) to reach the castle. If the regular sofa or bed is too easy, have them climb over pillows and cushions before getting to the furniture.

*Lower extremity strengthening: Roll socks into a ball and have a “snowball” fight working on squatting down to pick up the “snowballs” and maintaining balance while throwing.

*Take a nature walk and squat down to look at rocks and leaves.

*Balance - Catch bubbles on the bubble wand. Have them kick a ball towards a “target” and knock paper cups over.

*Make a fun game out of walking - walking like an elephant, hopping like a kangaroo, walking like a bear, creep like a cat, hop like a bunny, etc.

*Make an obstacle course - barriers to walk around, crawl under, and crawl over.

*Play-doh - Kids love making various things with it and it is an excellent way to destress for the parents.

*Legos - who doesn't love playing with this oldie but goodie? In fact, google Lego Challenge and you can find a 30 day calendar with a different challenge for each day!

*If you have access to a playground or playset, enjoy!

Ten years from now, your child will probably not remember the name of the virus that put the entire country on hold, but they will remember the time spent with you and how they felt when you engaged with them and listened to them.

Homeschooling, we got's all in the bag!!!

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