Like all Chicago Public Schools parents, Tracey Newport can’t take her children anywhere for spring break this week. But she’s trying to bring some of the fun and excitement to them anyway.
The school district’s spring break comes after nearly a month of being forced to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The school district will officially start remote instructional days on Monday.
Some parents are not giving up on the idea of making spring break fun for their children. Their adventures include building makeshift forts and teaching their kids how to sew.
Newport said she knew she had to do something when she saw her 6-year-old son was sad.
“He was starting to really miss his friends and really miss just playing with other kids,” she said.
She looked up ideas on Pinterest on how to make spring break fun during a pandemic. She got a ton of ideas for activities, including giving each day a theme.
On Monday night, she gave her sons an invitation to a Hawaian luau. Then, on Tuesday, she decorated the house. The boys colored and did the limbo.
“They are surprised,” Newport said. “They are excited to wake up the next day and do these things instead of [thinking about] when they are going to see their friends again or go back to school again or see their family again.”
Wednesday had a Lego theme, and later this week will be all about solving mysteries.
“I was going to have my kids eat their food blindfolded, and they are not going to know what they are eating,” Newport said. “Of course, I am going to make it safe for them.”
Newport isn’t the only parent getting creative. Others have their kids making YouTube videos on how to make yogurt or slime.
“We built a fort, and then we watched movies from there,” said Priya Shah who has a 10-year-old son and is a teacher at Skinner North elementary on the North Side.
Shah has also been teaching her son, Ayan, to sew pillows for their cat, Marsh.
He’s also been recording video postcards for grandma, making music and playing chess online.
“I think the activities have helped him, because it allowed him to tap into that creative space where he doesn’t have to think about what’s going on,” Shah said.
Shah’s school started remote learning earlier than the rest of the district. In the last few weeks, she has been busy teaching and making sure her son, who goes to National Teachers Elementary Academy near Chinatown, completes his school work, too.
This week offered a much needed break for them both.
But she knows that she is lucky. She worries about the children of other parents who have even more demanding jobs and don’t get the time off to help their kids cope and enjoy their spring break.