There is no doubt that we are in unchartered waters due to the COVID-19 outbreak our nation faces. It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago, many of us were planning for spring events, school functions, perhaps even spring vacations. It’s amazing how all of our worlds have changed so much in that short amount of time.

One of the challenges has been an influx of school-age children who suddenly find themselves at home. While this may provide opportunities for increased family time in a tough time period, it also offers challenges for youth managing time and for parents in developing new routines and methods for “homeschooling” their children while balancing work. Here are some tips from Business Insider that I found helpful:

Make a schedule – kids benefit from knowing what to expect throughout the day.

Have a morning meeting – this is a staple to get on the same page, talk about how everyone is doing, and set goals and expectations for the day.

Create a behavior management plan – this is new for everyone! You may look to a points system or positive reinforcement with natural consequences as strategies for poor behavior.

Provide a model – are you modeling what you want from your kids? Do you tell them to limit “screentime”, but are on your phone constantly? Sit with them when possible and work through homework with them, it will help!

Reach out to a teacher friend or use the Internet – these resources can be as good as gold in days like this.

Feed and water your kids often – healthy foods make kids work better and smarter, it’s a fact!

Honor kids’ feelings – this is a tough time. We can play the positive card most the time, but it’s ok and even beneficial to acknowledge that missing events and people is going to rough for a while.

Be kind to yourself – cut yourself some slack. You aren’t going to be perfect, no one is. Do the best you can and learn from your mistakes.

While there are many challenges our country is facing, Missouri 4-H is striving to help where we can as well.

Statewide, we have created a resource that all kids can use, even non-4-H members. We call it Missouri 4-H “QuaranTIME”. This is a daily schedule of activities that anyone can sit in on. We have online project meetings (think cake decorating, guitar lessons, gardening lessons, and animals – just to name a few!), Teen Time with State 4-H Council, Cooking Connection, opportunities for youth to practice demonstrations., and a “Chick Watch” where youth can follow along as eggs hatch. These opportunities go from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, anyone, 4-H member or not, is welcome to come and go as they please.

To find these resources, visit the Missouri 4-H Facebook page. 4-H is a program of University of Missouri

Extension and is open to all. Questions or have ideas on how to get involved? Contact murphyse@missouri.edu or call 660-646-0811.

Shaun Murphy is a youth engagement specialist for the University of Missouri Extension.