Now that your children have been home for a while and distance learning is happening, if you haven’t already it is time to create some structure in your children’s day. Why should you even want to do this? Isn’t it sometimes refreshing to have no set routines, to go with the flow, to do what you want when you want? Definitely! But you have probably been doing that for over a week and for many of you, that may mean things are starting to unravel or already have!

Structure is good for all of us but particularly for our children. It provides a sense of security, normalcy and even comfort, particularly in these uncertain and stressful times. Structure helps your children know what to expect.  Even if they sometimes balk at the structure we impose upon them, secretly, they really do crave structure and thrive when they are in that type of environment.

So how do you create that structure? For those of you using the internet or WhatsApp, you have probably already seen multiple examples of daily schedules written up and shared by parents and educators. Those schedules may be enough to help you but in case you need some other ideas, here are some general ideas that will help put the structure back into your family’s day:

  • Try to have a set wake up time when you get the day going. Everyone should get dressed, make their beds, brush their teeth etc. (If they do not know how to make a bed, schedule in a tutorial at a later time!)

  • Eat breakfast together and discuss the plans for the day. Make a breakfast menu for the week: your children can help you prepare and they can learn valuable math lessons and practice their reading by following a recipe.

  • Have a set davening time for everyone (either before or after breakfast depending on the age and gender of the children). If you are able, participate in the davening time with them- have them teach you the tunes to the prayers they daven in school. Your child can be the “teacher” and teach you! Or they can be the chazan or chazanis.

  • Schedule in some daily movement time. It can be a walk around the yard; around the block if possible; putting on music and dancing; playing a game from your childhood such as Simon Says, Monkey in the Middle, Mother May I;  or if you use the internet, downloading an exercise video.

  • Make a time to communicate with others, whether it is via phone, letters or the Internet. Are there elderly people in your neighborhood who would appreciate a call? Anyone’s birthday coming up that your children could make a card for and mail to them? Encourage them to reach out to their classmates- especially the ones who are not their closest friends. Make cards, drawings, write letters, call them or whatever other way they can use to communicate and stay connected.

  • Have a daily household chores time. Other than teaching them how to make their beds, this is an awesome opportunity to teach your children important life skills- especially if your housekeeper is no longer able to come to your house. Each child can be taught age-appropriate skills such as vacuuming, sweeping, loading the dishwasher, washing dishes, cleaning counters, dusting, folding laundry, and so much more! Use this time to help them learn how to do this with joy, turn up the music, keep the cleaning sessions short, and have fun with it.

  • In addition to a daily chores time, what about a daily cooking class? Children can learn to create menus, shopping lists, find recipes, read and follow recipes, learn the vocabulary of cooking as well as some of the pertinent Jewish laws such as how to check eggs. The possibilities are quite endless here!

  • Do your kids have a hobby? While it may not be possible to learn how to play a musical instrument now, perhaps there are other things they could do.  Let them brainstorm about what interests them, about something they have always wanted to try. You might have to help out with some suggestions here. At the very least, take out some craft supplies and give them a challenge: I saw that one mother told her kids to create people from the various and household items such as popsicle sticks, plastic spoons, yarn, etc. They are turning this into a daily activity with the goal of creating a wall mural of the Splitting of the Sea!

  • Dare I mention that Passover is coming? While hopefully they are learning something about the upcoming Yom Tov from their teachers, we all realize that it will be very limited this year. You can use some of the abundance of time you now have with your children to enrich and expand upon what they are learning. If you need resources for this, your first stop would be the teachers. If you need help finding more, be in touch! And don’t forget that helping you clean for Pesach can be very instructive as well. While you may not want their help kashering with boiling water, there are lots of things that your children can do such as cleaning out drawers, scrubbing down counters, checking what food in your pantry is already kosher l’Pesach and can be used, and so much more!

These are just a few ideas that you could implement to help put the structure back into your children’s lives! Wishing everyone a healthy and happy Passover!

Suggested Daily Schedule

Please note that this is just a suggestion and clearly every family needs to create a schedule that will best work for them. While the structure is very helpful, being able to be flexible is going to be an absolute necessity.

8 a.m.

Wake up, negel vasser, get dressed, make your bed

8:15

Breakfast

8:45

Davening

9:15

Daily chores

9:35

Learning session 1*

10:00

Recess/Movement time/Snack time

10:30

Learning session 2*

11:00

Hobbies and Crafts

11:45

Lunch prep and lunchtime

12:30

Quiet individual time for reading or ?

1:00

Learning session 3*

1:30

Music and Movement time

2:00

Communication Hour with friends, grandparents, cousins, etc

2:45

Learning session 4*

3:15

Pesach prep

3:45

Game time

4:15

Dinner prep and free time

6:00

Dinner

*the learning sessions can include: the distance learning, work assigned by the teachers, journaling, reading, additional enrichment work for Pesach, practicing math facts, practicing handwriting, or any other learning.

The learning sessions have been scheduled for half-hour slots but can and should be shortened or expanded depending on the age and ability of the student.