If you live in Pennsylvania and you have school-age children, you have them home for the next 10 weekdays. In some states, the shutdown extends into next month.

If those students don’t have online instruction from school, what’s a parent to do?

Plenty, if you stop and think about it.

If they had assignments assigned prior to the shutdown, have them complete said assignments. If not, take note:

A young student? Go over spelling and sight words. If you have flash cards on hand, review those words or make up a set of cards.

The same goes for “math facts.” Review addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with cards on hand or handmade.

While public libraries have shuttered with the schools, take stock of literature in your home. Have your children read a book and write a brief report about it. In my household, I have instructed my teenager and my tween to read one book per  week and summarize it to me orally or written form. If they would like to read more than one, even better.

A dear friend who teaches in a neighboring county shared a suggestion on social media. Take this time to teach kiddos some life skills — among them cooking, checking the oil in the car, doing laundry, sewing on a button, deep cleaning and balancing a checkbook. Basically, teach home economics. It’s never too early to start, and they are something that they will always need!

Sunday (March 15, 2020) got off to a late start with not enough time to get to church. With the obligation to attend Mass lifted due to the coronavirus outbreak, we watched Mass for the Third Sunday of Lent on EWTN together. We prayed aloud and even sang along with the priest and participating worshipers. We discussed the priest’s homily. Really, you could never pray too much, especially in this trying time.

Limiting travel and socializing could be a silver lining in this pandemic cloud. Perhaps families that have become distant will grow closer and renew bonds. Turn off the television and news for a time and play a board game together — or cards or Twister. Go outside and do yard work in preparation for warmer weather. Plant a garden; you might eventually have a bountiful harvest of your own to enjoy. If you have a fire pit, enjoy quality time around it on a cool night. If you have ingredients for s’mores on hand, roast marshmallows and snack away!

Another post shared today on the “Silly Little Irish Girl” Facebook page reads, “This too shall pass.” It will, hopefully sooner rather than later. This is something that has never happened in our lifetimes. It will be something for our children to tell their children, just as we have shared the trials, tragedies and tribulations that occurred in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Blessings to all as our country rides out the coronavirus storm.