There is a great deal of negative information hitting everyone in this time of coronavirus (COVID-19). Hearing the number of people fighting this disease or the number of people dying from the disease is very difficult to hear multiple times each day.
It is even more negative when the disease hits your own family.
But like most negative stories there are some positives. The positives include what is happening to many families because of the people who are being encouraged to stay home and spend time with their families.
Very few families spend this much time together. This is a time we should all embrace. This is a time we can fill with special activities that we seldom have time for. This is a special family time.
Remember when you used to say that you didn’t have enough time to read with your child, or you didn’t have enough time to help get your child ready for school, or you didn’t have enough time to play games with your child? Now you do.
You probably have more time right now to do these things than you have ever had before. In this time of family isolation, you can become a more positive parent than perhaps you have ever been.
It is well known that parents are encouraged to read with their children at least 20 minutes each day. If you have been doing that all along, you should be proud. Most parents say they would do this if they had the time but they frequently don’t have the time so they skip it.
Now is a time you don’t need to skip this special 20 minutes together. Make sure this 20 minutes includes close hugs, letting your child read the words she knows, talking about the story you read, encouraging her to read a story to her younger sibling, and enjoying the time together.
Games are a worthwhile activity. Even a game like FISH. Make sure that both mom and dad get to play. They can help the youngest in the family to learn how to play this.
You can even encourage your child to teach the family another game. Our children are a great source of knowledge if we can learn to plug into it. Ask your older children to teach everyone a new game. Remember, the key is the time you spend together not who wins.
Don’t forget about music. If your child was learning to play the clarinet when school was cancelled, now is a great time to really master the instrument. Maybe your child really wanted to play the guitar instead of the clarinet. Check out the internet.
You may be surprised to learn that the internet has guitar lessons somewhere. Look around on your computer. Even if you don’t find guitar lessons, you might find something else important. Just even sharing the search together can be rewarding.
Another wonderful experience can be to learn more skills writing. This is a great time to write a letter to grandma or aunt Millie. Keep the letters your child writes or at least a copy of them. Writing is a skill that you can really encourage as you become an important teacher for your child. Maybe you can both write letters and share them with others in the family.
You can also write a report. Give your child a book that contains information at their level. Have them read an article from the book. Then have them write a report on what they have read. This isn’t a skill that a lot of young children have. You can help your child master this skill.
Take your role as teacher seriously. Make it fun. Make it filled with encouragement and lots of love. Take it as an opportunity to do something you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do. Tell relatives and friends how you are becoming a more involved parent. Share what you are learning from your child or your children.
You have a chance to be a more significant parent than you have ever been. Enjoy it. No one else can do it in quite the same way as you can.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach interim First Teacher Executive Director Patty Waite, email email@example.com.