Savings and Support Tips: Managing School and Childcare During COVID-19
Due to COVID-19, going back to school will look different this year. Whether your child is headed back to the classroom, doing online lessons from home, or a hybrid of these, it will be an adjustment for many families. Alternate childcare and at-home education resource costs add up quickly! Here are ways to save money during the back-to-school season:
Back to School Sales
Whether your child is learning in a traditional classroom or in your living room, they will need supplies. Take advantage of sales-tax holidays in your state and back-to-school sales. Look for deeply discounted school supplies at major retailers like Target, Walmart or Office Depot, which typically offer different sale items every week leading up to the first day of school. Check sales online or through the retailer's app before you hit the streets to save time and gas. Sign up for retailer email lists or text alerts to get additional coupons. You can always unsubscribe later.
If your child is learning online, they will need a social outlet, exercise and play time. Pair up with another family who is following the same safety guidelines as yours and head to the nearest park. Walk trails, ride bikes and do other activities that allow for social distancing. You can even incorporate science lessons by identifying trees and birds or talk about the environment and practice sustainability by wearing gloves and picking up recyclables.
Check out local homeschooling groups for ideas for educational resources, online cultural outlets and outdoor field trips. Parents who have been homeschooling their children can also be an important support network for parents who are new to the task.
Use free video chat services like Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Skype and Zoom to help keep your kids engaged with family and friends they don't get to see as much because of the pandemic. Grandma can read them a story at night or walk them through her favorite cookie recipe over a video call, while Grandpa can teach them how to build a birdhouse. Kids can play charades with their friends, or just simply catch up about the school day.
If your child needs help with math or science and you don't feel comfortable with an in-person tutor, head to your computer. Free resources like Khan Academy offer short math, grammar, science, history and test-prep videos that teach hundreds of concepts to kids from age two to college. Additionally, Schoolhouse Rock videos teach about everything from grammar to the Bill of Rights, and free YouTube videos offer simple at-home science experiments, art projects and music lessons.
The public library is a more important resource now than ever, offering you free access to books, movies, videos and more. Some libraries even offer curbside pickup, and others offer access to materials from the comfort of your home through e-books, audiobooks and movie downloads through its website or apps like OverDrive and Libby.
Free educational websites can offer your child a wealth of opportunities, from reading activities to games, printables and videos. Check out PBS Kids, Sesame Street, Starfall, CoolMath, Make Me Genius, TIME for Kids, National Geographic Kids and The KIDZ Page for ideas.
If your child has access to a smartphone or tablet, free educational apps can turn screen time into learning time. Apps often incorporate games and kid-friendly graphics into lessons that your kids will have fun doing. Look for lists on Common Sense Media, Educational App Store and digitaltrends.
If you are spending more time at home because of the pandemic, your kitchen can become the classroom with your regular routine. Measuring ingredients to bake cookies can help kids learn math lessons, while putting up a chore chart where kids earn points to win prizes can help teach about earning money. Teaching them household chores like how to sew or do the laundry teaches responsibility (and helps you out, too!)
Sharing Daycare Duties
If your children are home full-time because they are doing online school or the childcare center has closed, it can be difficult for a parent who is working from home. Switch off childcare duties with another family whose safety practices mirror your own. You can set up a schedule where you alternate days or weeks having the kids so that the other parent can get a break to do work or run errands.
Use free educational tools and pool resources with friends during the back-to-school season to save money (and your sanity) as we continue to journey through the COVID-19 pandemic together.
Julie Landry Laviolette is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance, health and living well. Find her on Twitter at @JulieLavio.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Ameris Bank does not endorse nor is affiliated with the companies listed in this article.