If you’re anything like me, one minute you feel like you can live at home in quarantine forever. The next, you’re ready to leap out the front door. Here are some things to do to keep the kids (and you) from going quarantine-crazy and maintain a sense of normalcy during these strange times.

Quarantine Advice from an Arizona Teacher of the Year Read. Reading is the best activity your child can do to enrich their academic lives. Remember, comic books, graphic novels, websites, and audiobooks count as reading! Let the kids build a fort and spend some time reading away the hours. All this forced family time might be the perfect time to institute Family Read-Aloud. Out of books, library closed, or kids not readers yet? Check out StoryLine where famous actors read books aloud or the many sites with digital books. Gather the kids, Grandma and Grandpa, and friends and get creative with read-alouds on FaceTime and Facebook Live.

Play. I cannot stress this one enough. Skills like empathy, resilience, and problem-solving — all essential 21st-century skills that students can’t learn from a worksheet or app— are benefits of play. Bring out the board games and card games. No games? Try water bottle bowling! Are your kids overwhelmed by their amount of toys or bored by them? Institute a toy and book rotation to provide novelty.

Listen to podcasts. Try Common Sense Media‘s list of family-friendly podcasts.

Connect. I made a rule to keep my only child connected to the outside world. She is writing a letter, an email, and FaceTiming a relative or friend at least once a day, every day. Maintain ties with your teacher(s). Believe me, we have all sorts of withdrawal being away from students! Send an email and let us know how you are doing and feeling. We miss you already and we will appreciate it.

Write. This is a great time to start a journal. Is your child a fan of the popular I Survived…series? Start an I Survived the Quarantine of 2020 story detailing life in these strange times. Save it for posterity! Try writing to a pen pal around the globe through PenPals.

Create. This is a time for a mini-Renaissance at your house! Encourage music, art, and cooking. Put on a family talent show or help your student develop a comedy routine with jokes you can find on the internet. Check out GoNoodle’s “How To” videos to learn how to do anything!

Genius Hour. This is the perfect time for kids to direct their own learning based on their unique interests. Through a Genius Hour model, kids ask a research question based on an interest of theirs, research the topic, create something, and share it with the world. Watch John Spencer’s video to learn more.

Quarantine Advice from an Arizona Teacher of the Year If your school is moving to online/distance learning, be sure to set up a learning space. Reduce distractions to help your students learn to focus at home. Turn off the wifi (after assignments are downloaded) and lock away the video games during learning time. Take movement breaks -a 15-minute break after every 45 minutes of classroom time is a good general rule. Try GoNoodle.

It takes approximately 180 hours to build an online class, so be patient with teachers as we figure this out. We are here for you and for your child. Let’s make the most of this, together!

Beth Maloney, Ed.D., NBCT, 2014 Arizona Teacher of the Year and 5th grade teacher.