The novel coronavirus has forced many parents across the country to stay home from work with their children.

On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested all public events of 50 or more people be postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. That comes as cities like New York City have decided to shut bars and restaurants to help people practice social distancing and avoid going out in public.

Children across the country will also stay home from school. Utah, Massachusetts and New York have all asked children stay home from school.

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“This is a health issue. We want education to continue but we want to do it in a way that protects the health of the people of Utah,” said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert last week after dismissing school for two weeks beginning Monday.

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“It’s better to be too early than to be too late,” Herbert said.

Because of this, parents are electing to stay home to watch their children. Other parents are working from home, too. The self-quarantine will give parents and children another chance to be together during the day.

So what should parents do? We’ve started a list of activities parents and children can do together when everyone is stuck at home.

Have an idea? Comment on the article below.

Learn at home

  • Scholastic published an online resource that offers day-to-day projects to keep children reading, thinking and growing during the self-quarantine.
  • “Even when schools are closed, you can keep the learning going with these special cross-curricular journeys,” the program’s website reads. “Every day includes four separate learning experiences, each built around a thrilling, meaningful story or video. Kids can do them on their own, with their families, or with their teachers. Just find your grade level and let the learning begin!”

Create a schedule

  • The Khan Academy created a template for a schedule parents can use to help their children stay focused and learn at the same time. The schedule begins with breakfast and getting ready (much like a traditional day) and then jumping into online learning. From there, work in some recess and reading time before taking a break and allowing for a snack. Give your child some writing practice, lunch and then some time with the family before sending them off to bed.
  • The cool news about the Khan Academy schedules is that there are multiple schedules for different ages, too. It begins with schedules for those in preschool, kindergarten, and first and second grade. It also includes schedules adapted for those in grades three to five, six to nine and 10 to 12, which includes some SAT prep information.
  • The San Jose Mercury News has a printable and customizable schedule-maker for interested parents.

Encourage a routine

  • Creating a routine for your child is one of the best things you can do during a self-quarantine, according to Time magazine. One idea might be to create a screen time routine. Create a set time every day where children can use their screens. That way, they don’t become too focused on it.
  • According to Time magazine: “Follow through when the scheduled time for screens is over, and don’t leave TV on as background noise. If the house feels too quiet, turn on some music instead. Outside of the scheduled time block, only use screens when you (the parent) chooses it because you need it. Save screens for big moments, like when you have a conference call or dinner prep isn’t going well.”

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Embrace sticker books

  • You can find sticker books at department stores that will keep children entertained for hours. It requires some concentration and focus from children, so it is more than just a fun activity, according to Reviewed.com (via USA Today).

Work on puzzles

  • Puzzles require brain power and critical thinking to put the pieces together. Buying a large puzzle to put together as a family over the coming weeks could be a good way to bond during the quarantine, according to Reviewed.com (via USA Today).

Bring in the art supplies

  • Painting? Drawing? Coloring? All of these are options if you buy the right supples. Art supplies will help children and parents work together for fun. Like picture books, art work requires focus and concentration, too. While your child is out of school, this will certainly help them stay energized and educated, according to Reviewed.com (via USA Today).

Let them help with cooking

  • Need help cooking dinner or lunch? Enlist the child. Maybe you won’t want to do this if the child is sick. But if they’re healthy and you’re healthy, teach them how to build their own lunches and dinner, according to Reviewed.com (via USA Today).

Grab a tablet

  • The tablet could have a lot of games and educational apps for you to use to help your child learn. Maybe institute “tablet hours” where your child needs to stay on the tablet to learn a second language or play a memory-based game, according to Reviewed.com (via USA Today).

Consider playdates

  • Experts seem to argue about whether or not children should have playdates with other kids while the quarantine is in place. According to CNN, the play dates should be limited in size. Children should play outside to limit germs, too. Children should always wash their hands before and after playing.
  • “If possible, consider individual outdoor activities like biking or hiking where sports equipment isn’t shared and it’s easier to keep a good distance from each other,” according to CNN.

Write letters

  • You can’t go out to see people. You want to keep your child indoors. But you want them to keep in contact. One idea might be to encourage your child to write letters to their friends, relatives and family members. This allows them to practice their writing skills and gives them a chance to stay in contact with people.

Don’t worry

  • Look, your children are going to be home with you for a foreseeable future. Don’t worry if you schedule a Netflix day or a movie marathon. Maybe you only have half a day of education. That’s fine too.
  • “Of course even with the most perfectly planned schedule, you will still have days when you just can’t muster the energy to come up with even the simplest activity and instead let them watch another episode of their favorite show,” according to Time magazine. “That’s O.K too. Do what you need to do to get through that day. You’ll have your routine to go back to the next day. And the one after that, too.”
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