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School Break

By Maye Yao Co Say

With Proclamation Nos. 929 and  922 (s. 2020) and Republic Act No. 11332, following the sharp increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout the country, classes and all school activities in all levels will continue to be suspended until April 14. Most of our kids have been out of school since March 10. What have your kids been doing? Are they all “screened” out?

I was glad that a former schoolmate, now living in the US, sent a very nice article by Jane Hauser entitled, “Making the Most of COVID-19 School Closures” for the Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) written just this March 13.

It outlined great tips and suggestions that guided me on how to manage my kids’ time at home for these next few weeks. Below are some of her suggestions that I used.

  • Request homework from teachers
    Most teachers will be sending home classwork to keep children engaged while they are out of the classroom.

  • Schedule recess and playtime
    While home is often seen as a place to relax and have fun, scheduling recess or play/downtime may help provide the routine kids need to feel less anxious.

  • Use screens wisely
    Resources such as National Geographic Kids, PBS,,, TIME For Kids, Smithsonian Tween Tribune can help provide more academic content for Social Studies, Science, Current Events, and more. is also a great resource for finding age-appropriate options.

  • Move your body
    Thankfully, there are some creative ways to make sure our kids get in time for gross motor movement. Consider options such as,, and for whole body movement and yoga videos

  • Bolster life skills education
    Consider spending this time teaching some skills in the home: Have kids help with the process of doing a whole load of laundry from start to finish, work through a recipe for dinner together, or clean surfaces around the house while explaining how to safely use different cleaning products.

  • Work on broader Executive Functioning (EF) skills
    EF includes skills such as problem solving, time management, goal setting, and organization. Provide sorting activities, have a child create their own schedule, set a daily goal, practice telling time, or play some problem-solving games such as Heads-up, Charades, or Guess Who.

 This past week, I started to prepare a schedule with tick boxes for my kids. It starts with a set time to wake up. Then followed by these activities.

Breakfast time

Learning time

  • Classwork from their google classroom, if there are any
  • Age-appropriate puzzles
  • Alphabet or numbers teaching tools like The Learning Journey’s “Count & Learn Cookie Jar”
  • For toddlers and preschoolers, it would be great to have your own learning centers. It is quite simple to do. I suggest a corner with sorted toys and books in boxed organizers preferably clear or labelled. One side can nurture or pretend play like a play kitchen, then finish it off with a center table where your child can do art and writing.

Meagan with her newly painted ukelele; Our own Bestway above-the-ground pool with my kids and our labrador, Brad; and Marcus with his planned book to read entitled, Basketball (And Other Things) by Shea Serrano.

Art time

  • Consider picking a theme. For this week, I asked Meagan and Marcus to make posters and letters for health workers fighting the COVID-19 virus.
  • Gather existing objects to paint on. My daughter used Crayola poster paints to personalize her old ukelele.

Lunch time

Chore time

  • Fixing the dinner menu with what is available in the house
  • Arranging one or two drawers from their own room
  • Folding clothes from the laundry
  • Washing dishes
  • For toddlers and preschoolers, let them mimic you with safe pretend play toys like the Melissa & Doug Let’s Play House series.

Play time

  • Physical sports like basketball or soccer in the garden
  • Pool time with your own inflatable or above-the-ground pool to be more hygienic than public pools or even small pools with anti-bacterial play balls for babies and toddlers
  • Free Play with blocks like Legos and the newer Technogear Action Blocks encourages creative, sorting, and goal-setting skills. They can choose what they want to create and allow them the freedom to make their own creation. Finish it off with a photograph.

Reading time

  • Even if not all kids like books immediately, try different types of books from picture, factual, fiction, or non-fiction books. My son Marcus is not naturally drawn to books, but because he likes basketball, my daughter Meagan found a book for him to read.

Dinner time

Gadget time

  • It was effective that I put the gadget time last. I found they are able to enjoy the day more by doing all “active” tasks first.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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