Academics are important, but time away from the screen is just as important to most host families. Below is a list of activities that you can incorporate into your daily schedule that will provide a healthy balance between academics and fun.
1. Add a Kickstarter to the Beginning of Session
A kickstarter is an activity you begin with each day. It provides the consistency that parents are looking for and helps you develop a good relationship with students because they know what to expect from you every day. A kickstarter can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as 30 minutes.
The most important part of your kickstarter will be to communicate the learning goals for the day. Prepare a written agenda and review it each morning before learning starts. Communicating a daily agenda keeps the focus on learning and reinforces behavioral expectations.
You can also add a bit of fun to your kickstarter with these ideas:
- Play the game “I Spy”.
- Play a card game like Uno.
- Start with a fun writing prompt like “If you could eat one food every day what would it be and why?” or “What superhero power would you have?”
2. Make Review Time Screen-Free
Each day, hold a closed-laptop review time when students go over what they learned in class. Incorporate movement into review time to provide a healthy balance to sitting in front of a screen. Here are ideas to get you started.
- Make a game out of review like Trashketball or Around the World. Find more ideas here.
- Play Family Feud: for larger groups, divide students into two teams and have them compete for points by calling out answers to today’s lessons. Learn about Family Feud and other review games here.
- Tape problems around the learning area and have students travel around the area to work on each problem.
3. Plan Healthy Play Time Before Lunch
To incorporate more movement and less sitting into your daily schedule, use these activities to wind down from study and ease into lunch.
- Meditation time: even 15 minutes a day is shown to improve focus and ease anxiety. Check out this guide for tips on how to get started meditating with kids of all ages.
- Active time: try yoga, stretching or even a dance party.
- Game time: try a scavenger hunt, which works especially well if classes are held outdoors.
4. Self-Guided Reading Time
Reading time is a good way to calm students back down after they’ve had an energetic play session. We recommend letting students choose what they read. If they’re interested in the material, they’re more likely to stay focused for a longer period of time.
For younger students, have them read aloud with you. Or, have them read by themselves for a short period of time each day, about 10-30 minutes for elementary school aged kids.
5. Finish with a Closing Ritual
Your closing ritual and kickstarter will bookend the day by establishing reliable routines, providing the structure that students need and the consistency parents rely on. Here are some ideas for your closing ritual.
- Tidy up: ask students to organize their learning and play areas at the end of every day so they can start tomorrow with a distraction-free learning environment. Plus, parents will love it!
- Talk about highs and lows: ask students to share their favorite and least favorite parts of the day with the group.
- Gratitude practice: ask students to discuss what they’re grateful for that day. A daily gratitude practice is linked to better self-esteem, enhanced empathy and improved physical health.