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Non-Academic Skills to Practice During the Covid-19 Quarantine

I’ve seen a lot of parents worried about the things their children will miss during this period of suddenly homeschooling. I invite you to try a more positive mindset and consider what they don’t learn at school. These 10 options make a great jumping board on what your kids, and maybe you, could learn this week.

  1. Thread a Needle, Sew on a Button, Stitch the Basics. I love sewing activities in general, because they are great for fine-motor development, but I also know that I’m one of a select few in my friend group who can do repairs on my clothing without having to bring it to grandma.
button and needle
Photo by Pixabay on

2. Plan, Plant, and Perpetuate a Garden. This is another activity that I encourage for children simply due to my own route in homeschooling, but I know that if this outbreak had occurred a little bit later and my garden had been a little bit farther along with my own crops, I would have been less stressed about my food supply. Keeping plants alive, even if they aren’t garden veggies, teaches great responsibilities. Plants can also improve air and emotion. If you live in an apartment and don’t have room for a vegetable garden, consider a hanging tomato or strawberry plant near a window for a quick snack you raised yourself.

garden starter kit, plan, and seeds

3. Write and Address a Letter to a Loved One. A lot of us don’t write letters anymore, but I think we should still know how. Right now, my younger sister is still at college (supposedly the only campus in the country still holding classes, but I haven’t fact-checked that.) and the care packages I’ve send have meant the world. Right now, medical professionals would love to know how much we appreciate them, and adults in nursing homes would love to see the work of some children as they can’t have visitors, so this activity won’t go to waste.

handwritten envelope
Photo by Castorly Stock on

4. Cook an Egg (or Other Simple Meal). To be fair, there are over a hundred different ways to cook an egg. When I was working as a restaurant chef, my dad said that I could have the hat my grandmother had given him in that position, if I could learn one way to cook an egg for every pleat. I didn’t, but I do know quite a few and I think that learning to cook a scrambled egg and a hard-boiled egg would be a great place for children to start to be able to use the stove and feed themselves.

two hard-boiled eggs
Photo by Mona Sabha Cabrera on

5. Fold a Blanket, a Towel, and a T-Shirt. You may have to be a bit more creative to make this one interesting to your kids, but I think it’ll be well worth it. Consider getting the whole family involved, and turning it into a race.

retail clothing exhibit
Photo by Aleksandr Neplokhov on

6. Memorize Their Home Phone Number and Address. This could take a long time to fully grasp, but the earlier your children can learn it the better off they will be. While we hope they are absolutely never separated from us, we want to know that they would be able to contact home (or tell a police officer how) if there was an emergency. I’ve seen some great activities for learning phone numbers, where kids jump to the appropriate number on a cardboard phone face. As an added benefit for big kids, discuss safe internet usage.

young girl on cell phone
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

7. Learn a Strategy Related Card Game. I used to go camping with my family every single summer. Old school style camping, where we could only bring what fit in our back-packs. A deck of cards was always worth its weight though, because there were so many games that could be played. Card games teach kids strategy, and are a great thing for them to be comfortable with for when they learn statistics and probability in 3rd grade.

card-playing hand
Photo by Pixabay on

8. Learn to Tie Basic Knots. To be honest, the only knots I know are a few from sewing and a few from climbing. My boyfriend, who was a Boyscout, blew me away with his ability to build a try-pod (the start to our garden Teepee) without thinking twice about it. He also knows quite a few other fishing and survival knots, and I can definitely see how that’s a useful skill. A cabin I vacation at in Upstate VT houses a mug with two strings wrapped around the handle, and diagrams of the most basic sailing knots. I wish I had paid more attention.

rope knotted around a post
Photo by Bella White on

9. Bake a Cake, and Knead Bread. Baking projects are great because they include a lot of fractions, math, and very specific chemical reactions. A cake mix would offer the simplified version, and from scratch will require more work. You could double of halve a recipe to practice math, and still get a wonderful reward at the end. When I broke most of my hand in a pitching incident, my physical therapist released me early because my job at the time included rolling a few hundred balls of pizza dough per weekend, which stretched exactly the right muscles and repaired my fine-motor motion.

hand shaped cookies
Photo by Elly Fairytale on

10. Identify Poison Plants and Venomous Animals Common to Your Area. I’ve seen a lot of posts online where people are asking if they can leave their house. Here in NY the official statement is that you should spend time outside, if possible, while still maintaining other guidelines, like distancing yourself from others and washing up often. We always wash well when we come inside, and check for ticks. If you are able to spend some time outside, its a great time to talk to children about what they may encounter in their environment. In mine, I’m most worried about deer ticks, poison ivy, rattlesnakes, and bears. C is still a little too young to understand most of those concepts, but I keep them in mind when I’m outside with bigger kids.

orange tree-tops from below
Photo by Immortal shots on

Honestly, We’re scared over here too. My sleep schedule hasn’t been normal in about a week, and the migraine from hell is slowly building. Everything is scary, but, like I said, I want to keep as much of this from my baby girl as I can. While I do understand that we are expected to attend classes on Zoom and finish homework packets, I also wanted to suggest some out of the classroom learning. If you have more ideas for this list I would love if you would drop them in a comment or email them to us to try out.


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