WVU professor provides tips for families at home amid COVID-19 outbreak


Photo courtesy of WVU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A professor from West Virginia University is offering a list of 10 tips for parents and families who wish to maintain consistency and normalcy during the time they are at home while many schools and business are closed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Amy Root is a WVU parenting scholar and associate professor in the College of Education and Human Services Child Development and Family Studies Program.

Below is a list of Root’s tips along with her comments and quotes.

  • Everyone in your home should be on a schedule
    • Young Children – “Many early childhood education classrooms provide a selection of hands-on activities for children to choose from, allow them to spend time at each center for as long as they like. Children in this age-group learn from play and should not be expected to do worksheets.”
    • Elementary-aged children – “Mix breaks with academics and allow children in this age-group to choose their activities within guidelines that you set. Some elementary-aged children will thrive on a schedule that mirrors their typical school day, while others will want some autonomy to create their at-home schedules. Remember that learning can be hands-on with activities like puzzles or science experiments.”
    • Adolescents – “As with the other age-groups, make sure you allow adolescents to have some breaks throughout the day while still incorporating academic rigor. Engage with adolescents by starting an in-home book club or watching a documentary. Adolescents may also be interested in working on some community service activities, as long as those activities fall within the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing.”

      “The adults in your home should build schedules for both work and home maintenance and try to stick to those schedules.”
  • Go outside, regardless of the weather
    • “With many families crowded together in their homes, getting outside can provide much-needed breathing room and add some variety to your day.”
  • Balance alone time with family time
    • “Carve out spaces for each person and set guidelines for how much alone time will be allotted before a child is checked on. Alone time doesn’t have to be in separate rooms, but you can create a quiet time where everyone chooses an activity they do separately without conversing.”
  • Engage everyone in your family in household chores
    • “This is a good time for families to work together.”
  • Think of ways that children of all ages can connect to others and the community
    • “Allow your children to connect with their friends for virtual playdates via videoconferencing platforms like FaceTime and Google Hangouts. Try a fun activity like a no-touch scavenger hunt where families in your neighborhood leave items in their windows.”
  • Change your routine on the weekends
    • “With many family members at home every day, it can become difficult to distinguish between weekdays and weekends. Provide your family with a sense of normalcy and continuity by varying your weekend routine.”
  • Talk about feelings and what is happening with your children
    • “It’s important and appropriate to acknowledge what is happening is unusual and scary, and parents and children need to feel those negative emotions. It’s equally important not to allow those feelings to consume you. To limit stress, Root suggests meditation, yoga, exercise and deep breathing.”
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed as a parent, find a healthy outlet for your anxiety
    • “Exercising or talking to a friend are some good options.”
  • In this time of extreme change, try to reassure children of what remains the same despite the change
    • “This can be the tangible/concrete (bedtime routines are the same) and the intangible (love for one another). Create new rituals and routines that may lighten the mood, including dance parties or games.”
  • Be flexible and patient with your children and yourself
    • “We are in uncharted territory, so it is best to take things day-by-day. Try to be child-centered and patient, and accept that you’re going to make mistakes. When you do make a mistake, be honest with your family members, apologize for missteps and discuss how the family unit can work together to do better next time.”

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