You know the kind of day I’m talking about. You wake up one morning, drag yourself out of your nice, warm bed and downstairs to start your day as usual. Maybe enjoy a hot cup of coffee after throwing some breakfast at the children.
But then you look up from
checking Facebook reading important education related articles to see the baby throwing up everywhere. A short time later, the older child starts complaining of a tummy ache and it’s not long before he is also getting sick on every surface between the couch and the bathroom. It is at this moment when you realize that today is going to be dramatically different than you had planned. And not in a good way.
This was my reality last week.
And it was downhill from there.
But everyone is fine now! Mostly.
Basically, last week was a wash. There were no English lessons or Math practice. Book reports remain unfinished and history lessons were put on hold. We all have days/weeks/months like this (sans vomit, hopefully) where we take a perhaps unexpected break from our regular school routine. Even if your homeschooling style is on the un-schooling end of the spectrum, I imagine you have a general rhythm to your days or plan of sorts that can get interrupted from time to time.
But what do you do about it? As most homeschoolers will tell you, a child’s learning takes many forms. It’s certainly not all about facts in a textbook. Sometimes a break from our normal routine, whether it’s planned or not, forces us to engage in new or simply forgotten activities together.
Some ideas for unplanned activities to keep kids occupied, learning and enjoying their time together:
- Read. Have older siblings read to younger siblings. Have a family chapter book read-aloud (Trumpet of the Swan is our current selection). I’m sure many of you include this in your school day on a regular basis, but it’s also an easy thing to keep up with even when family members aren’t feeling well.
- Play games. My kids love games and even converted me from someone who never had the patience for them. There are a number of games that my nine, seven and five-year old can play together. Or, the older two can play more involved things like Chess or Battleship while I play a rousing game of Zingo or Funny Faces with the five year old. Games don’t necessarily need to be labeled as “educational” to create a learning experience for kids; they are learning to take turns, how lose gracefully, cooperate with others and plenty of other things beyond ABC’s and 123′s (incidentally, they’re probably practicing those, too).
- Break out the art supplies. Put a protective covering on your table if you need to and get out the clay, play dough, fun markers, paper, scissors – whatever gets the creative juices flowing for your kids. Keep some kid-friendly craft books or magazines on hand so that older kids can work a project on their own from start to finish or together with younger siblings. Those melty bead thingys have always kept my kids quiet and occupied, too.
- Turn on the TV. I don’t mean vegging out cartoon completely mindless type of television – although, sometimes that’s fun, too. We have Netflix as our main source of programs and my boys all LOVE a good episode of NOVA or something similar. This past week while everyone was laying around, completely exhausted from all the vomiting (sorry) they watched documentaries about The Universe – because they LOVE anything and everything that has to do with space right now. We also watched Toy Story 3. Because, C’mon – those Toy Story movies are complete genius. Anyone else cry every time at the end? When Andy goes off to college?
- Two words: Mad Libs. This might go along with playing games, but my kids get a kick out of these. Our whole family enjoys doing them together and, obviously, it’s a great way to practice those Parts of Speech. We have a collection of the books on hand, but there’s also an iPad app that we like.
Even when they aren’t feeling well, my kids need more to do than just lying around. I also had to spend about 99% of my time this past week holding the very sick baby and therefore the older kids needed ways to occupy themselves. These were some things that helped keep them busy and their minds off of not feeling well.
What are some ways your kids stay occupied during breaks from their “regular” school routine?