Over the past few months, there has been a growing concern over coronavirus, the pandemic that is sweeping its way nation-to-nation and quickly taking foot into the United States. Within the past few weeks, schools across the nation have been swift in response, shuttering their doors and issuing mandatory closures to try to limit the risk of exposure and transmission between staff and students.
While quarantine and social distancing efforts are one of the best ways to ensure the infection of the virus slows down and eventually dissipates, this has a huge impact for children who can no longer be in a traditional school setting. Further, for schools that mandate classes to be canceled for weeks at a time, elementary and middle school teachers, who may not have lessons prepared for online learning, may be at a loss for what to assign during this downtime and concerned about losing momentum in their STEM, STEAM, coding or overall education program.
These rapid changes in routine for students, paired with the general anxiety-induced atmosphere of the virus, can leave school staff and parents feeling helpless on how to help empower children stuck at home. However, with the right information and free online resources, there are a number of key ways you can make sure children staying at home are informed and engaged in cross-curricular, entertaining digital curriculum.
Help Children Understand COVID-19
For children who are used to going to school, being outside and seeing their classmates every day, changing their normal routine can be a huge adjustment. Children look to adults when trying to figure out the world around them, so every spoken word and gesture matters when you’re around them. If adults are anxious, sad, stressed or angry about the news or complications of the virus, children will often pick up on and resonate with those feelings. This only becomes magnified when children are confined with adults in enclosed surroundings.
To help keep children appropriately informed, healthy and relaxed as much as possible, The National Association of School Psychologists recommends a number of tips, including:
- Using age-appropriate ways to discuss the severity and impacts of the virus, depending on the maturity of the child
- Limiting social media and television news time to avoid upsetting children, especially as there is a plethora of inaccurate information
- Having adults limit blaming, stay calm and be reassuring
- Encouraging your child to be hygienic, to eat well and cover all coughs and sneezes
- Watching children for symptoms of COVID-19
According to advice from healthychildren.org, you should try to keep kids’ days as routine and scheduled as possible. Here are a few tips that can help:
- Read books with your child. It’s not only fun, but reading together strengthens your bond with your child AND helps their development.
- Make time for active play for younger learners. Bring out the blocks, balls, jump ropes and buckets and let the creativity go. Play games that kids of all ages can play, like tag or duck duck goose. Let your kids make up new games. Encourage older kids to make up a workout or dance to keep them moving.
- Keep an eye on media time. Whenever possible, play video games or go online with your child to keep that time structured and limited. If kids are missing their school friends or other family, try video chats to stay in touch.
With the right messaging and tone, children will still be able to understand the strange new situation around them while adults still balance a sense of normalcy as much as possible.
Keep Children Engaged with Free Online STEAM Curriculum
While keeping children informed and calm is helpful, it doesn’t solve the entire problem of state-wide schools being closed for weeks-on-end. Children are also likely to become restless as time goes on and may begin to feel isolated from their peers, as school is one of the number one ways most of them may interact with others in a given week.
For educators, a simple solution that can help students bridge the learning gap while also delivering content from multiple subject areas in little-to-no prep time is by using STEAM curriculum. The beauty of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, The Arts and Mathematics) is that it is cross-curricular and can fuse academic standards into core learning objectives
How to Set Up This Free Digital Curriculum at Home
To make it easy for educators and parents, SAM Labs has transformed content previously unavailable without the use of our hardware into a free digital curriculum that can be used alongside our companion app (also free!). Each activity encourages students to solve complex problems, use computational-thinking and create systems using virtual blocks.
To mitigate this, parents and teachers can set up Facetime, Skype or Google Hangout sessions between students to work on projects in tandem, discuss their solutions or generate ideas. If other students are not available, siblings or parents make great partners on projects.
While the activities are engaging on their own, nothing can fully replace in-class group work time that allows students to discuss and problem-solve with their peers.
3 Free STEAM Lessons for Students to Learn at Home
In this activity, students learn multiple music keywords and learn how to design a complex system that ultimately lets them compose their own digital song.
In this activity, students learn about the history of Morse Code, learn how to decipher it, and create a system that can send Morse Code messages.
In this activity, students learn about energy transfer, the different states of matter, movement of particles, and create their own system to represent moving particles.
Get Your Own STEAM Hardware Kit To Try While Children are At Home
Looking to take things up a notch from the virtual and integrate it with physical blocks? SAM Labs offers full STEAM and Learn to Code kits for parents and teachers that comes with a full, standards-aligned curriculum. Interested in trying it yourself? Contact us today to try a demo kit sent straight to your home with your child. Supplies are limited, especially during this high demand time, so make sure to schedule a time to talk with one of our education consultants today.
More Free Resources on All Things STEAM Education
Our curriculum is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how we support educators and parents with STEAM learning and resources. For more, check out:
Written by Eleanor Jacobson
I’m an edtech writer who’s passionate about changing the world one classroom at a time. When not spreading the news about the latest in K-12 technology, you’ll find me geeking out about the latest startups or video games and adding to my ’80s toy collection.
Eleanor is an EdTech writer who’s passionate about changing the world one classroom at a time. When not spreading the news about the latest in K-12 technology, you’ll find her geeking out about the latest startups or video games and adding to her ’80s toy collection.