There are no doubts that trying to juggle working from home with children is challenging. Whether you’re in a video call, focusing on writing, or making a presentation, there are going to be several times you are going to be interrupted and called out Mama, Mommy, Mom breaking your concentration or rhythm.
In these 3 months of working from home with a four-year-old I have realized that there are some activities where you will need to be involved with the kids and some that need minimal involvement. In this post I am covering ONLY those activities that have worked for us.
For many parents around the country school year is closed, and for those with younger kids who go to daycare, there is still time when things can go back to normal schedules. And so I hope this post can help you to keep your kids busy and occupied while learning from home.
Honestly the first few weeks of homeschooling were hard, but after trying and testing several things I have found a schedule that works for all of us. The key is Flexibility. We made sure each day for our son flows like how it would have been at school. (screen time is a new entrant although in this timetable).
Not every day is the same, we switch activities, play and learning time as the day goes by. We have no hard timetable that we follow for Vir, it is not possible given the fluidity of the workday. (Except for breakfast, lunch, snack, nap, chores and outdoor play.)
Below list is broken down into different categories.
I highly recommend Children’s Museum of Manhattan for daily inspiration and ideas on new topics and activities you can have the kids do.
We step out of the house at least twice in a day, once after breakfast to get some activity for 20-30 minutes and once in the evening at 5pm for longer time anywhere between an hour or more. We take necessary social distancing measures and now have started wearing masks too. (walks, scooter rides, biking, dog walk, nature treasure hunt, park hikes etc)
Vir is in Pre k 3 and at at almost 4 years of age I try to ensure 3 core activities are part of his educational time. Reading, Writing and Numbers. Below are some resources
Reading online apps & books
Reading books aloud from your collection at home or online works best. You can use FREE digital libraries or tools available online like
We also love the Reading Eggs App and Vir has picked up so many spellings. He is learning to read and can form 4 word sentences. I love the amount of puzzles, activities the app offers. Also there are worksheets that come with it, so we download that and practice too. I highly recommend this app.
Also we started the Highlights magazine monthly subscription for Vir and he loves getting one every month and reading and solving puzzles on it.
For more information on other online digital tools for kids of all ages check this resource.
Writing, Tracing, Patterns
We follow this daily with some workbooks I bought from Amazon to make sure Vir practices his writing. He has learnt writing all alphabets big and small.Here are some resources
Alphaprints Workbook from Amazon
Skillmatics tracing puzzles, pattern work sheets are a huge hit !
We also use the Notability App on Ipad with Ipencil. That has help change things around when Vir is bored of the books. I use the app for work but have realized we are able to lot more things with Vir for his writings and dot to do activities that are reusable.
Pinterest has several free printables online that you can use.
I also recommend having a magnetic slate, it makes it more fun and has multiple uses.
Numbers and Counting
Using flash cards has helped most in teaching Vir numbers. Also, we use a white board at home and the magnetic slate daily. All the above online resources have math and number printables available too
Visit a Zoo and Aquarium online.
Although some states have opened up and museums and zoos are accessible, you can watch animals online here
1.Household scavenger hunts have been a huge success whether be it with hiding eggs indoor on Easter or to reintroducing the Easter hunt every week. We improvised with a monster truck hunt and recently took it outdoors with nature hunt too. Below are some ideas. You can download these free printables
Indoor Treasure Hunt by aboutamom.com , Pj Mask Super Hero DIY costume and FREE Printables for preschollers, Egg hunt printable from Skillmatics , Nature Scavenger Hunt from Free Kids Craft. Pinterest too has loads of ready-to-print ideas.
2. Lego Time or Building Activities: Lego is sharing videos and daily challenges online for kids to build something new. We have been following the lego masters build amazing cities and characters. You can see more here on Lego’s initiative to help families
3. Toy-Washing Bin or Water activity – Let your kids wash their plastic toys, cars trucks etc. Add tear-free bubbles, sponges, towels and other supplies. You can also open your backyard or driveways to water play with water table, balloons, toy water guns. Summer is here.
4. Bathtub Play When the day is long, and I feel I did nothing that day, all I have to do is fill up the bathtub with a little bit of water, put some fizzy bath tablets in the water and give Vir markers and toys and also a Popsicle somedays and we are good to go for a 45 minutes at least!
5.Ice Smash Game – By far one of the most IG shared and successful games to keep Vir busy while I am on office calls. Just freeze tiny toys in water overnight and give it to the kids next day to break and smash with toy hammers, spoon. Sticks etc.
1.Pasta Necklace with food coloring – We recently made our quarantine accessory at home.To make the “jewelry”, you need 2-3 spoons of water in a ziplock bag + 4 to 5 drops of food coloring + pasta. Shake the bag and dye all the pasta. Repeat step for different colors. (Optional: sprinkle in some glitter) Let the pasta dry and use a yarn to string the pasta! You can also use acrylic paint if you like. With food coloring the pasta is dyed evenly. Vir enjoyed the entire process and was proud of his creation. I love how I can do this fun activity with my son and match with him too!
2. Tootpick and Playdough STEM activity– We have started discovering the concept of Geometry and it is so much more fun while playing! We use playdough and toothpicks in this classic, hands-on activity to learn about shapes on a 3-dimensional level.
3. DIY a Boardgame Forget about a ready-made game. Your child’s creativity will kick into high gear when they make their own board game. Vir and I made a simple board game with markers, colors and paper and he loves playing with it. You can keep changing it up every few weeks by adding stickers, more colors, levels on a new chart paper or sheets
4. Nature Craft. One of Vir’s favorite activities is picking flowers from our plants and on our morning walks. We made some mixed material crafts at home on paper and with flowers, beads, crayons, colors, paints, clay and more. Try it out !
Online Dance & Karate Classes
Learn specific stances and basic positions for karate, Taekwondo or another martial art or even free dance lessons by following YouTube videos. (Definitely requires supervision.)
1.You can include little kids in your new WFH schedule by giving them their own briefcase full of office supplies and asking them to “work” quietly nearby. Use markers, pads of paper, child-friendly scissors, stickers, and any other grown-up things like pencil cases, a measuring tape, or an old-school calculator
2.We recently converted Vir’s kitchen into a café, and he loves it. The Ikea kitchen is one of the best investments we made. I have ordered some chalkboard paper to switch things around and make a taco truck and ice cream parlor too. He is learning to count money and understanding simple math like addition and subtraction.
3.Super Hero pretend play. Check out my recent blog post here for all superhero activities you can try.
Below are some of my other posts with additional ideas & resources
Hope this post is resourceful and can help you navigate summers with your little ones at home.