March 26, 2020

Just for Parents! Tips for Parents (From Parents) As We Navigate Social Distancing & Remote Learning

Without much warning, life has suddenly changed drastically for all of us. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit home here in Utah, the McGillis Parent Association has shared some helpful tips for parents as we navigate this new frontier of social distancing and remote learning. 

Shared by McGillis parent, Melissa Watt
For our 2nd grader, we have had her grandparents step in to help facilitate remote learning and entertainment. We have a one-hour Zoom call set up with each grandmother each day. In one call, our daughter shares her screen and reads aloud using the app EPIC. In the other call, she is joined by two cousins, and the grandmother shares a lesson. On Earth Day, they learned about the history of Earth Day and made pinecone bird feeders together. Another day, they played “math bingo” over Zoom. Having this time with grandparents has been very special, and it has helped us to add some “supervision” to our day.


Inspired by the 3rd grade's unit study on countries and their cultures, we have decided to choose one or two countries per week and plan a meal/ activity/ discussion around them. The first two on our list are India and Mexico, but obviously there are so many options.


Two local businesses (and probably more) are delivering fresh produce and other foods. It's convenient now that going to the grocery store has become a bit more challenging, and it helps support local businesses. Plus the food is delicious!

  • Hand Sown Homegrown Farm Store offers local farm and food products; many vendors are from the Farmer's Market.
  • Vive Juicery is delivering an Abundance Box of fruit & veggies, which changes weekly, with options to add on some of their nutritious juice.

Shared by Stephanie Duffy, McGillis parent & Parent Association President

      • A Little Help With Home Cooking:  Since my house is stocked with food like never before and we're trying to stay home, I've been cooking and baking more than usual. On the plus side, I'm involving my family, which is mostly helpful, fun, and educational for them. One drawback to endless cooking is that I'm getting a little burned out on what to make 3 times a day. Here are some resources that have been useful for figuring out what to make with ingredients that I already have, as well as for providing fresh ideas. I have enjoyed Allrecipes and SuperCook.
      • Staying Organized for Homeschooling: Our family calendar used to chart sports practices, school events, and music lessons. All of that is absent for now, but our schedule seems even more complicated with multiple daily Zoom sessions, teacher check-ins, and assignments across three grades. At the recommendation of a few friends, I just ordered an acrylic wall calendar to keep track of it all. There are lots of options (made by small businesses) on Etsy.
      • Seeking New Ideas: I've been enjoying a new New York Times feature called At Home for a curated selection of things to listen to, watch, make, and do.

Shared by Erin Sullivan, McGillis parent and Parent Association committee chair

My family has found art and other creative projects (music, baking, etc) to be so helpful during this period of isolation and uncertainty. Here are a few resources that we have used -- some for our kids (Teague, 7 and Juliet, 10), and some for my husband Tim and myself!

These are good options for the enrichment segments of the Continuous Learning daily plan, or to do on weekends, etc.

      • Wendy Macnaughton: drawing class, weekdays at 11:00 AM MT (each class is on her live Instagram story for 24 hrs)
      • Mo Willems: Lunch Doodle, weekdays at 11:00 AM MT
      • Draw Every Day with JJK: art class weekdays at 12:00 PM MT by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, New York Times bestselling author and illustrator 
      • Carson Ellis: Quarantine Art Camp - art assignments posted every weekday for kids and parents

And storytelling has also been a lifesaver for when our kids want to mix it up and Tim and I are trying to work from home. Two we've enjoyed are:

      • Oliver Jeffers, Stay At Home Storytime, Staying Safe Together (But Apart) 
      • Mac Barnett offers live storytelling at 1:00 PM MT (stays up for 24 hours)


Shared by Dana Powers, McGillis parent and Parent Association committee chair

      • Yoga: My husband Frank and I have practiced yoga for a while now, and though we can't go to a studio right now, we have been enjoying online classes. Salt Lake Power Yoga offers a wonderful power yoga sequence that will get you sweating and calm your mind.
      • Meditation is also something that we have found helpful for reducing stress and anxiety during these trying times. Tune In Mindfulness has free 30-45 minute live stream meditation classes and Headspace offers wonderful guided meditation apps -- and right now anyone can try them for free.


Shared by Kate Reymann, McGillis parent, Parent Association past president & committee chair

Being homebound with my family during this ever-changing Covid situation, I've been looking for ways to be productive--and stay sane! Here are a few things I've been doing...

      • Cheater Gardening: I enjoy gardening and though the season for planting my garden is a couple of months off, I have managed to get a head start by planting arugula and other greens in pots that I can move from the sunny outdoors, to my kitchen when the weather calls for it. Most types of lettuce will sprout about 35 days after planting the seeds, so I'll be salad-ready (without a need for a grocery store trip) before I know it. Many grocery stores sell seeds or try your favorite nursery, such as Mountain Valley Seed.
      • Decluttering: If you have the time and want to tidy up the place where you're now spending ALL of your time, here's a good worksheet that breaks it down into manageable bites.
      • Entertainment: I always find music to be healing, and Lucas Nelson is singing almost every day on YouTube. Also, adult comedy is good for a much-needed laugh after the kids go to bed -- Wanda Sykes and Dane Cook are two of my favorites. Early Eddie Murphy is cringeworthy but absolutely hilarious if you don’t mind some stuff that really doesn’t age well.

Onward and upwards, folks!

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