Even though the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has forced learning for Ohio students to become home-based, Concord Township resident Lea Delaveris said, her sons still are waking up weekday mornings to a set alarm.
Rather than create a schedule for Steven, 10, and Dean, 7 – both Eli Pinney Elementary School students in the Dublin City Schools – Delaveris makes checklists for them, she said.
The list of “musts” includes:
• Wake up.
• Get dressed.
• Brush teeth.
• Eat breakfast before 10 a.m.
• Complete schoolwork.
• Help with meals and chores.
• Get to bed at a normal hour.
• Do some physical activity.
The boys also have a list of “shoulds,” which includes:
• They should not say they are bored.
• They should take a break when needed.
• They should ask for alone time.
The last list, the “cans,” are activities Steven and Dean are free to do after they’ve finished most of the items on the “must” list – such activities as video games or painting.
Delaveris said she opted for a checklist over a schedule because she did not want to have to monitor it and wanted flexibility in her day, too.
“I know myself,” she said.
In the weeks after Gov. Mike DeWine on March 12 ordered a statewide three-week closure of school buildings, parents like Delaveris have found ways to give their children structure while they learn at home.
And with DeWine’s March 30 announcement that schools will remain shuttered until at least May 1, along with the state’s stay-at-home orders to limit the spread of the coronavirus, those routines are turning into a new normal for parents and children during the pandemic.
Making sure those new routines are fluid and flexible is important, said Sara Miles, a fourth-grade teacher at Dublin’s Indian Run Elementary School.
Educators know students thrive with routines, Miles said, and parents can give their children a picture of what their days will look like.
Because children will accrue more screen time than usual while learning online, she said, physical activity is important.
“Nothing beats fresh air,” Miles said.
Providing outdoor time for children to quiet their minds, take a walk and be around nature is crucial during this time, she said.
Miles also advises determining what children are passionate about.
Miles is the mother of a 15-year-old Dublin Coffman High School sophomore, Maya, and a 12-year-old Sells Middle School seventh-grader, Layla.
For example, her younger daughter enjoys baking and cooking, so Layla has taken on cooking for the family while home, Miles said. The practice gives the family structure and provides Layla a sense of purpose, she said.
Miles said another challenge is to find a way each day to make human connections by virtual means.
Delaveris said Steven has participated in a scheduled video chat with his classmates so they could play math games together.
“It gives him a little spring in his step and a smile on his face to interact with other kids in his class,” she said.
Dublin resident Dawn Grimwade said her children are missing their friends and social interactions they usually would have in school.
“I think it’s hard on them,” she said.
Grimwade said she created a schedule for Leah, a 13-year-old Grizzell Middle School seventh-grader, and Evan, a 9-year-old Eli Pinney fourth-grader, that includes morning learning, a break for exercise or other activity before lunch and then online learning for another 2 1/2 hours.
Both children have said they like the schedule, she said.
Although other children might have adapted easily to online learning, Grimwade said, Evan prefers classroom instruction.
“This is a challenge, I think, for my kiddo,” she said.
Grimwade said she prints out a daily learning plan so Evan can check off tasks as he completes them.
Like Grimwade, New Albany resident Marcie Brickner has created a schedule for her children: Boston, 11, and Brooklyn, 10. Both children attend New Albany Intermediate School in the New Albany-Plain Local School District.
For recess, both children have been able to connect virtually with their friends, Brickner said. For example, Brooklyn sat in a swing on a video call with a friend, she said.
“They still get to stay connected,” she said.
The Brickner family has found creative substitutions for other parts of the school day, as well.
For example, one day as a stand-in for art class, Boston and Brooklyn wrote letters to older relatives whom they cannot visit because of social distancing, Brickner said.
Another change in routine means the family now eats three meals a day together, Brickner said.
Although Powell resident Stephanie Murphy’s two boys, Brendan, 21, and Devlin, 20, are staying elsewhere during the coronavirus quarantine, her daughter, Bella, 12, has been home from Grizzell.
Murphy said virtual education has not been a challenge for her seventh-grader.
Mother and daughter also have dipped their toes into online learning together, participating in a free online dance class taught by choreographer Debbie Allen.
“We did that the other day and had an absolute blast,” Murphy said.
Although the reality of the coronavirus pandemic is difficult for many people, Murphy said, she has viewed her time at home with her daughter as an opportunity for them to bond.
“It’s something that I’m excited about,” she said. “I’m looking forward to our time together.”