How do we deal with a prolonged “shutdown” of normal activity in light of a pandemic like the Coronavirus? That is a question parents the world over are grappling with right now. With little time to plan or prepare, we are entering uncharted territory. For many of us, access to unlimited online resources that are being widely shared on social media can be overwhelming. For many, the idea of trying to homeschool one or more children while “teleworking” or managing a home is daunting at best.
Over the past 48 hours, we’ve tried to take a step back, study our options, and set realistic goals for the coming weeks. First and foremost, we recognize the privilege that many of us have to think about these issues: access to computers and internet, financial means to pay for books/supplies/resources, being in the safety of our homes with food and other resources available, and simply being able to be home with our kids to avoid getting sick. We should reinforce the theme of gratitude for what we do have as we try to go about our daily lives while halting many of our normal activities.
Here are five ways you can make the most of this time with your kids at home (and naturally, use Arabic along the way):
1. Arabic immersion at home. When most kids spend at least 8 hours a day at school learning in English, this limits the time parents can speak to them in Arabic for the rest of the day. Consider this a gift for you to increase the time you have to speak to your children in Arabic! If consistently speaking in Arabic is not an option, designate a certain time period to do so, maybe during the lunch break or morning routine. Any addition is a plus, and consistency is key.
2. Use the power of technology for educational exchanges. No, we’re not talking about binging on Disney+ and Netflix (maybe by week 3 this will be our reality). We’re talking about using all the tools for virtual interactions at your disposal. Your extended family halfway across the country or the world is likely also stuck at home right now. Why not set up a daily video chat with a grandparent who can tell your children Arabic stories? Or let your child reconnect with that cousin who can converse with them in Arabic for some real life conversational practice? Better yet, make it an educational exchange-- your child can help their extended cousin practice their English while they help them practice their Arabic!
3. Set realistic goals, be flexible, and reassess. We’ve all seen the memes taking jabs at the ambitious schedules some parents are setting for this period. The reality is, schedules are going to be changed and in some cases, thrown out the window. But, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Failing to plan at all is planning to fail. With your child’s input, set a schedule for the first week. Be flexible as you go through it day by day, and make changes as needed. Talk to your child at the end of the day about what worked, and what didn’t, and revise it for the following day. If your child can follow a schedule at school, they can probably follow a more flexible one at home!
4. Don’t try a new recipe when you have guests over. You probably have dozens of links and posts saved on your Instagram, Pinterest, and Facbeook pages listing fun experiments, free e-learning resources, and arts & crafts galore. Realistically speaking, you had these types of things saved before we knew what COVID-19 was, and you rarely used them. Don’t try to do something that you haven’t already tried before or your children aren’t used to doing. Stick to what you know and what your kids are probably used to and comfortable with, and just reimagine it or jazz it up. If your kid loves Legos, give them new Lego challenges/prompts that will inspire them to do something new with the bricks they already have. If your kid loves coloring and painting, let them paint with a different medium, in your backyard, or using things you have at home to put a new spin on an old favorite.
5. Choose 3 online learning or educational resources to explore. Your child’s teacher may be sending you some suggested online learning tools or optional homework packets, or you may be seeing dozens of them shared on social media. Set aside 30 minutes to browse through what you come across and narrow them down to 3 links/resources. Designate “educational screen time” as a slot on your child’s daily schedule and let them explore one resource at a time.
Don’t have time to do that? We’ve picked these three to get you started:
- DK Find out! https://www.dkfindout.com/us/-- quizzes, videos, and fun facts about everything under the sun.
- Scholastic Learn at Home https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html-- brief daily lessons divided by grade for easy access
- World Geography Games: https://world-geography-games.com/-- geography games about countries, capitals, oceans, flags, and more.
We realize this time is overwhelming and stressful, but we hope these tips are helpful in breaking things down into manageable tasks. Leave us a comment if you have other ideas or suggestions to share with other parents!
Arabic printables & activities: Our very own scavenger hunts, coloring pages, reading log and more: https://www.maktabatee.com/pages/arabic-printables
Storytime with Teta Podcast: Arabic stories read by an engaging narrator with great sound effects and story lines: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/storytime-with-teta/id1470708012
Arabic puzzles, flashcards, and CDs: our favorite handpicked Arabic educational toys and more: https://www.maktabatee.com/collections/educational-materials
Arabic lessons, activities, and worksheets (free and paid):
Arabic Seeds: https://arabicseeds.com/
Teach Quran Play: https://www.etsy.com/shop/teachquranplay/
Noon Creates: https://nooncreates.com/store
Arabic puzzles, flashcards, and CDs: https://www.maktabatee.com/collections/educational-materials