Until School Restarts: Organize an “Ageless Kids’ Club”

Image by Jason Zhang, CC-BY-SA
Image by Jason Zhang, CC-BY-SA

If you are a lucky enough to be able to work from home at this time, you may be juggling childcare at the same time. One creative strategy that some organizations are trying is to mobilize an “Ageless Kids’ Club.” These invite all the generations and ages of the families of staff teams to engage. It reduces the load on parents and spreads the responsibility for occupying kids during these trying times. You may be surprised how well kids follow through when more than a nagging parent is counting on them.

(To appropriately acknowledge, I was asked to share this idea here on Medium, I’m not the originator of the idea, the idea comes from friends and the members of my team at the Inclusive Design Research Centre. I expect the experience will be shared by other members of some Ageless Kids’ Clubs when they get a moment.)

Basic Steps

It’s a simple concept, here are the basic steps:

  1. Provide an opportunity for all the family members in the team to get to know each other. One approach is to have a collective online “treat time,” to meet families and socialize.
  2. Recruit older kids, grandparents, or anyone not currently multi-tasking to help coordinate activities.
  3. Organize rewards or incentives for the high school or college coordinators. This can be recognition through high school community service hour creditsor stackable college credentials.
  4. Create problem-solving teams to address the problems and challenges faced by the community. Kids also like to feel useful, and it’s a great way to learn.
  5. Make sure that everyone is included, and the activities are inclusively designed and accessible.

Examples of Activities

Some examples of the activities that have been organized are:

  1. Treasure hunt: this can be an alphabet treasure hunt: find something in your home that starts with each letter of the alphabet.
  2. Online Talent show: invite everyone to mine their hidden talents and put on a show.
  3. Inventory math: to learn counting, share supplies, and track consumption, coordinate kids to keep an inventory of essential supplies.
  4. Media reviews: set up a system where you share reviews of movies, TV shows, books and games.
  5. Become an open education resource curator: thousands of openly licensed and free learning resourcescan be found on the web. Teams can create annotated collections that are relevant to their community interests. Some teams are sharing their learning materials by contributing to open education repositories.
  6. Storytelling hour: take turns reading stories or telling stories. Here plumbing the amazing stories of grandparents and elders works well.
  7. Multi-generational exercise classes: some of the teams have even engaged the family pets in these exercise classes.
  8. Online pet show: pets can be favorite “stuffies.”

Problem Motivated Learning

One of the most engaging activities is to form problem solving teams. These address problems the kids and their families face. They can also be problems that families are aware of in their community. Among the challenges that teams have been addressing, are:

  1. Co-creating multi-media messages to encourage people to stay safe.
  2. Creating recipes kids can safely follow.
  3. Turning board games into remote, online board games to maintain connection.
  4. Designing exercise routines that can be done in your house. This is also a great way to learn about the human body and all the muscle groups.
  5. Creating accessible digital versions of booksor captioning or describing videosfor community members who need audio books, captions of audio or descriptions of visual information in films. This is a great way to foster literacy.
  6. Re-purposing old equipmentto connect. This can include radios, CB radios, old phones, old computers and other equipment deployed to stay connected if onsite supervision is available.
  7. Creating an online community bulletin board to share resources and announcements.

Because computers may be in short supply and used by the parents working online, one of the challenges can be how to participate without access to a computer, or with limited access to a computer. Some teams have created family email accounts. Some are creating team websites. Coordination can happen through text messages or instructions to be printed out at the beginning of each day. It is good to coordinate a regular check-in to see whether someone needs help, or someone is available to help.

Hopefully these Clubs model that a good way to weather a crisis is to work together. The Clubs also leverage the diversity of skills and knowledge within a team and encourage inter-generational connection and sharing. Maybe schools, when they reopen, can also learn from these creative responses.