10 Life Skills That Chores Can Teach Your Kids and Teens

Kids and teens can be quite persuasive when they don’t want to do chores and, as a parent, it can be tempting to let them off the hook. What you may not realize, however, is that chores can help develop valuable life skills for kids and teens. Skills that could serve them in the future career and life.

Do chores help teach life skills?

There are many ways that kids and teens can contribute to the household—from walking the dog to preparing dinner. Taking on tasks can help kids recognize their important role in the family. Feeling valued, understanding the needs of others and being more connected to their parents are a few ways that kids can benefit from doing chores. One study found that kids who participated in chores from an early age were more likely to have strong relationships with friends and family as well as achieve academic success compared to kids who didn’t do chores from a young age. 

 Kids and teens can also learn both soft skills and hard skills from doing chores. Hard skills (or practical skills) are learned through training and practice and include technical know-how, such as using the washing machine and weeding the garden. Soft skills are related to temperament and personality traits such as patience, creative thinking, and time management. These can also be learned, but are not as easy to teach or measure.

5 soft life skills kids and teens can learn by doing chores

1. Time management

Teens who have to balance school, sports, clubs, part-time work, and a social life may convince you they don’t have time for chores. However, learning to juggle commitments that mix “work” and “play” can be integral to good time management. If chores are non-negotiable, kids will more likely find a way to fit them into a busy schedule. Consider the tactic, “Grandma’s Rule” which asserts “no dessert until you finish your dinner.” (You might have heard this yourself, growing up!) This strategy can be applied to tasks around the house to help your kids learn the power of delayed gratification. Finish the task you don’t want to do before starting the activities you enjoy.

Learn more: The best chores for kids and teens.

2. Team work

Cooperating with others to achieve a common goal is a life skill that you can help your kids develop by doing chores as a family. Rather than asking your teen or tween to set the table for dinner, why not prepare a meal together as a family? Divide the cleaning duties when it’s done. Through this, kids learn the give and take of teamwork in a supportive environment.

3. Problem solving

Doing a weekly chore can be frustrating for your kid or teen, particularly if it’s more challenging than expected. Next time the lawnmower doesn’t seem to be cooperating, or they can’t figure out how to change the cycle on the washing machine, resist the urge to jump in and fix it. While you may be tempted to intervene, letting kids figure things out on their own can help them develop problem solving skills—one of the many benefits of chores that may help them succeed in a future profession.

4. Responsibility

How do chores teach responsibility? Working independently on tasks can help kids learn to be responsible and take pride in their accomplishments. In fact, your teen or tween may ask for more responsibilities when they realize the more you trust them to do as they’re asked, the more freedoms you may be willing to give in return. If your tween is able to safely prepare a meal while you’re at home, the next step might be letting them bake when you’re not home. 

Read more: How to help kids and teens set and achieve goals.

5. Work ethic

Although kids may complain about doing chores, seeing a task through from start to finish can help them develop a strong work ethic. Even if the work (like cleaning the toilet) is unpleasant, learning to get the job done helps kids recognize the value that every task adds to running a household, or one day—running a business.

Teen boy tends to pot plants

5 practical life skills kids and teens can learn by doing chores

1. Budgeting

When your kids earn an allowance for chores, they can simultaneously learn how to save and budget for the things they want to purchase. If a chore-based allowance is not part of your strategy, you can teach kids about money through fun chores, such as bringing your child grocery shopping to compare costs. 

2. Cooking

While kids may learn about nutrition in school, nothing compares to real-life experiences in the kitchen. Age-appropriate chores are easy to find in the kitchen. Younger kids can measure ingredients while a teen should be able to cook an entire meal. These tasks help kids understand how different ingredients create a well-balanced meal, as well as teaches them one of the basic skills that they’ll need when they live in their own place. 

Read more: Tips to save money on family meals

3. Gardening

Learning to tend gardens that grow fruits or vegetables can help kids deepen their understanding of nutrition and cooking. Simple landscaping tasks such as raking, cutting the lawn, or watering plants can also instill a sense of stewardship and respect for the earth.

4. Home maintenance

You can help your kids learn household DIY basics when chores include home maintenance tasks such as painting a room, hanging pictures, and simple house repairs. These basic skills may one day help them save money, time, and frustration when they have their own place to care for. 

5. Caring for their belongings

Kids are more likely to appreciate their belongings when they have to care for them. Learning to keep a bedroom clean, for example, can help a tween or teen to develop the habit of mise en place in which each item has its own proper place. This can help prevent your kids from misplacing their valued items or blaming others for things not being where they expect them to be.  

How Mydoh can help get your kids to do chores

With Mydoh, you can set up household tasks for your kids, track their progress, and know when chores are complete. Add a weekly Pay Day so that your kids can budget for a future purchase, which helps build financial literacy and may motivate them to check off more chores from their to do list!

Learn more about using Mydoh as a task and allowance app for kids.

Download Mydoh today.

Mydoh Product Updates: You Asked, We Listened

Mydoh is the first of its kind app and Smart Cash Card for kids and teens in Canada. It was launched in 2020 with the vision to provide parents with the tools they need to raise money-smart kids. 

But doing something new and different isn’t always easy, we’ve had challenges and learnings along the way. A very important part of overcoming those challenges is user feedback—from people like you!

Mydoh has been fortunate to receive great feedback from our users. We want you to know that we take your suggestions seriously. Our team has worked hard to transform that feedback into new features that will improve your experience with Mydoh and add even more value. 

New Mydoh features

We’re excited to share three features that the Mydoh team are actively working on, all of which came from your feedback. 

1. Make changes to your childs’ task 

Setting up a task in the Mydoh app is a great way to help your kids learn the value of earning money. And we’re thrilled that so many parents are using it. We’ve received many requests for the ability to make changes to tasks once they’ve been set up in the app.  

Come February 2022, parents will be able to change how often you want a task to be completed, the payment amount, and more. That means if a particular task changes at home, you don’t need to delete the task in the app. Simply make changes to the task that you have already set up. Of course, you can always add a new task at any time.  

Learn more: Best chores for kids and teens.

2. More parental controls 

Mydoh is adding more parental controls so you can mark or unmark tasks as complete. Did your child forget to mark their task as done in the app? You will soon be able to mark a task as complete on behalf of your child, so they don’t have to worry about missing Pay Day. 

Was the task not completed satisfactorily or only half done? You can soon uncheck the task to mark it incomplete. When you make a change to your kid’s task, their task list will get updated and your teen or tween will receive a notification of that change.

3. Notification of purchases in real time

Parents are now notified whenever your kids or teens make a purchase in real-time. 

Knowing where your child is spending their money is an important part of guiding kids to make smart decisions about what and where they spend their cash. If your kids are still learning how to manage their money, a little oversight could help guide them. While parents could always track their kids’ spending in the app, thanks to your feedback, we’re working on a way to let you know as soon as a purchase is made. Whether a purchase was expected or not, you will know shortly after it happens and you can log in to the app (plus provide feedback in the form of encouraging emojis!). 

Learn more: How to help kids and teens avoid impulse buying.

Mydoh wants to hear from you

Stay tuned for more exciting updates and product features that make it even easier for you to teach your kids about financial literacy. But most importantly, keep your feedback coming – don’t hesitate to contact us by email at hello@mydoh.ca or in-app, we’re listening! We work hard to study all your feedback and transform it into safe and secure features that help you raise money-smart kids. 

Mydoh is not only committed to providing a great user experience, but also to creating solutions that keep adding value to your life and your feedback is an important part of that.  

Download Mydoh and get started today.  

How to Teach Kids Negotiation Skills

As a parent, it can be challenging when your young teen won’t accept no for an answer. Do you give in or hold the line? Do you find a middle ground that satisfies everyone? Frustrating though these discussions can be, they’re also fertile ground for teaching kids and teens how to effectively negotiate—a skill that may, one day, help them negotiate a better salary, advocate for positive change in the community, or even lead peace talks. 

Rather than avoid or shut down these debates, you can harness your kids’ natural inclination to question decisions by teaching them the art of negotiation.

Below, you’ll learn the benefits your kids can gain through learning how to negotiate, as well as useful tips on how to teach this valuable lifelong skill.

What is negotiation?

If you asked your kids to visualize people negotiating, what do you think they’d see? Two people having a peaceful discussion or two people arguing with tempers flaring? If they imagine a peaceful exchange, then they’re on the right track. Although some people think of negotiation as one person getting the upper hand while the other is forced to give in, today’s experts agree negotiation is about finding common ground so that all parties are satisfied. Although not easy, the ultimate goal is to reach a win-win situation.  

Young Black girl high fives Black man who is kneeling on the floor

At what age do kids negotiate?

Some parents will claim that kids start negotiating the day they learn the difference between “yes” and “no.” Certainly, by age four, most children have the language skills to communicate what they want, but are driven by emotion and lack the cognitive development necessary to negotiate. At this age, they are more likely to benefit from structure and a decisive yes or no.

After age eight, and into the tween years, kids have greater thinking and observation skills, as well as better memory. At this stage, kids may begin to negotiate with parents as they recognize the grey area between yes and no.

By the teen years, negotiation with parents and teachers is common. In fact, it’s a useful tool that helps them navigate their growing sense of identity, refines their moral values, and determines where they fit among their peers. They’re beginning to better understand the reasons why we negotiate. 

Why should you teach your kids to negotiate?

Most of us aren’t born great negotiators. Negotiation requires a set of skills that take time, effort and practice to develop. As the parent, you’re probably the person your teen or tween will challenge most often; this offers you many opportunities to teach what makes a good negotiator.

As an authority figure, parents are also suited for modelling how to negotiate with someone in a position of power. This could prepare your teen for future negotiations with a difficult boss or to discuss salary with a manager in the workplace—an important skill that today’s young people are not necessarily taught, but can have a significant impact on their income over the course of a lifetime.  

Kids who learn the art of good negotiation are also likely to be more empathetic and good listeners. These attributes can help build healthy relationships and friendships—particularly important during the peer pressure soaked teenage years.

How to teach negotiation skills to kids

Like any good skill, negotiation requires practice, and lots of it. Who better to practice with than their own parents? Chances are, you’re already negotiating frequently with your kids—whether you want to or not. Now, you can use the tips below to negotiate in a way that reaps the most benefits for your teen or tween. Don’t be surprised if your own skills get sharpened in the process! Role modelling is one of the best tactics for teaching how to negotiate.

Involve kids in your decisions

Your teen or tween won’t get many opportunities to practice negotiating if they aren’t given the opportunity to share in some of the decisions made regarding day-to-day life. Of course, this doesn’t mean every decision you make is up for negotiation. Know which issues are non-negotiable and be up front about that. You may be surprised to discover that there are many more issues than you realize that are open for debate, such as how much money they should save, allowances, chores, and curfews.

Don’t impose your views

Once you’ve decided an issue can be negotiated, try to keep your views to yourself, as this can send your teen in the opposite direction. Instead, allow kids to share their thought processes aloud to help them clarify what they’re asking. Encourage them to ask you questions, and be prepared to answer honestly. Suggest writing a list of pros and cons related to the issue under discussion, and to share what they think will be the outcome of that choice.

Curb the emotions

It’s common for negotiations to trigger a “fight or flight” response, because debates can often feel confrontational. Feelings of intense stress, anger or frustration, however, can prevent the talk from being productive. As the parent and role model, it’s important to try to keep your own emotions in check and not react strongly to what you’re hearing. This can also help offset any intense emotions that your kid may be experiencing. 

Practice what experts call “negotiation jujitsu” which involves avoiding escalation of emotions by refusing to react. Instead, teach your teen or tween to channel those reactions into something more productive, like focusing on what the other person is interested in, and finding common ground.

Encourage active listening

Teach your kids how to listen actively by modelling that yourself. When your teen or tween expresses a view, refrain from interrupting. You can also set a rule that each person will be given a chance to talk. Experts of negotiation say that people are more likely to work on a problem when they are all given the opportunity to express their feelings and viewpoints. To ensure your teen is listening, and vice versa, you can each repeat what the other person has said. That way, there is less opportunity for misunderstanding. 

Negotiation skills training games

Gamification can be an effective way of teaching and learning new skills, such as negotiating skills. There are games your teen or tween can play that teach how to negotiate in a fun, stress-free way. One of the most popular board games, Monopoly, offers the opportunity for players to negotiate trades and purchases to increase their chance of winning. It’s also a great money game for children. Catan—another popular game—relies heavily on negotiating with players to build settlements on a board. Both offer online versions, as well. Teens and tweens can also gain negotiation practice through video games, such as the game World of Warcraft.

Learn more: 12 video games that can teach you about money

How Mydoh can help kids and teens build real-world skills

The art of negotiation is a powerful skill that benefits teens and tweens in many ways. The more you practice negotiation with your kids today, the more likely they’ll be prepared to successfully and meaningfully negotiate in relationships, issues that they feel passionate about, and their future earnings. 

Until then, Mydoh helps kids and teens learn money skills and practice them safely. Mydoh also gives you oversight on your kids’ spending, so you can guide them as they learn to manage their cash. 

Download Mydoh and get started today.  

How Kids and Teens Can Gamify Their Savings Strategy

For some of us, learning how to save money is a lifelong challenge. It’s often more fun to buy something you want now than save for a future expense. Teaching your teen or tween the merits of saving money, therefore, can feel like work for both of you. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Your teen or tween can make saving money fun using gamification.

With the techniques below, you can turn saving money into a game and help your teen or kid develop money saving habits without it feeling like a chore.

What does gamification mean?

Gamification is a method that uses challenges, competitions and rewards to motivate certain behaviours or teach lessons. It can be achieved through digital apps, as well as with real life exercises. By gamifying savings efforts, learning about money can be a positive experience for kids, rather than a stressful one.

Can gamification improve kids’ financial behaviour?

One benefit of gamification is that it can shift the brain from “work” mode to a more relaxed and receptive state, otherwise known as flow. Rather than feeling overwhelmed or coerced, learning is fun and engaging. When you turn saving money into a game, the process of saving and setting goals could be more interesting, and rewards can be set up to reinforce good choices. While there are a number of digital apps that can help you gamify money management, including Mydoh, there are also analogue techniques that kids and teens can use.  

4 simple ways to gamify saving money for kids

Here are four simple ways to incorporate game elements to help your teen or tween develop the habit of saving money.

1. Set a savings goal

Talk to your teen or tween about what they want to save for. For a teen, that might be college or university funds or perhaps even a car. A younger tween may want to save up for a video game console. Determine a specific dollar amount they need to reach so that they have an end goal.

Tip: Use Mydoh’s savings calculator for kids to create a plan for how long it’ll take to reach their goal!

2. Set up rewards

For some, watching a savings account grow is not all that gratifying. That’s why it helps to break the main goal into smaller milestones that unlock rewards to keep your tween or teen motivated.

One popular tactic is known as the savings “ladder.” You can create one by dividing your kid’s major savings goal into smaller amounts or “rungs” on the ladder. Every time a rung is reached, there is a reward. For example, if the major goal is to save $500, the rungs can be set at $100 intervals: $100, $200, $300, $400, and finally $500.Decide in advance what the reward should be. 

Here are some ideas:

  • A weekend free of chores
  • A small purchase using some savings
  •  Movie night 
  • Take out food of their choice

3. Track progress

One way to keep kids engaged and excited about saving is to make their progress visual. Hang up a whiteboard to keep track of the increasing savings, or use a fun printable that your kid can update on their own.

Your tween or teen may also want to try the 50 envelope challenge (based on the original 100 envelope challenge popularized on TikTok). Write a dollar amount on each envelope starting at $1 up to $50. Every week, select an envelope at random and fill it with the cash amount indicated. After 50 weeks, your teens’ total savings will reach $1275!  

4. Friendly competition

This can be a great motivator for saving money if your teen or tween has a competitive spirit. One option is to compete against time. Challenge your child to reach a savings goal by a particular date; offer a top up “bonus” if it’s accomplished.

Alternatively, engage the entire family by setting up a “no spend” week or month in which every member of the household vows to cut out one spending habit, such as eating out at lunch or buying coffee every morning. Cheer each other on and hold one another accountable. You can even track when you say “no” to the purchase and add up the savings over time.

Learn more: How to help kids and teens avoid impulse buying.

How Mydoh can gamify money management for kids

Mydoh is an app that teaches tweens and teens about saving, budgeting and money basics. As a parent, you can set up weekly allowances, as well as assign specific chores that can earn kids extra cash or rewards outside of their allowance. Celebrate their good financial choices and completed tasks with emojis. Thanks to the Smart Cash Card and the ability to send money instantly, kids enjoy immediate rewards for their actions. Mydoh uses real life rewards and gamification techniques to help make teaching money management to kids enjoyable. 

Learning how to save money doesn’t have to be boring or difficult for kids.   

Download Mydoh and get started today. 

Fun and Cheap Winter Activities for Kids

Baby, it’s cold outside! As if getting kids and teens to do things outside their rooms wasn’t already a challenge, that feeling that this time of year equals hibernation often doesn’t help your kids embrace winter activities. From a parent’s point of view, social media posts that make it seem like families have escaped to a sunny shore or slopes holiday, or became Martha Stewart at home, can make you downright grumpy. Fear not! Here are some fun and cheap winter activities for kids and teens. 

How do you keep your teens entertained this winter without putting a dent in the wallet?

Why families should embrace winter

Studies have shown the long-term health and mood benefits of welcoming winter to get through the darker, colder months, and there’s a lot we can learn from Scandinavian cultures. Norwegians have a term called friluftsliv, which loosely translates to “the outdoor life,” meaning there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing choices, and getting outside for winter fun is simply a way of life. In Denmark, they adopt hygge, making things cozier with fabrics and candles to bring warmth and light to the depths of winter. Embracing specific mindsets and habits around winter activities can really help to make wintering something you can look forward to.

Whether you’re looking for fun ways to spend a chilly weekend or ideas for celebrating a more extended holiday break or Family Day, getting kids out for fresh air or engaging with you at home doesn’t have to mean a champagne and caviar budget. Once you get everyone past the eye-rolling and grumbling, there are loads of fun, cheap winter activities to do together that help to keep your bodies moving and warm while getting in some quality family time. 

Bonus: Practice financial literacy for teens by setting a budget as a family and make a list of options. As you knock off your family’s winter bucket list, hang onto your receipts and track your spending as you go along. 

A family playing hockey outside for free

8 outdoor winter activities for families 

What is it about the promise of hot chocolate that entices kids outside? We don’t know, but every single one of these fun outdoor winter activities for kids can be made cozier with the addition of a warm drink or even some soup (or go wild with a winter picnic spread). Keep extra blankets handy to stay toasty.

1. Outdoor skating

Finding a skating rink is usually pretty straightforward in a wintery country like Canada. After the upfront cost of renting equipment or buying it (perhaps gently used for affordability), outdoor ice-skating becomes more economical over time, with many public rinks being free or low-cost. For extra adventure, plan to head out further and make a day of exploring a new neighbourhood or town after a friendly Battle of the Blades-style competition.

2. Tobogganing

You don’t need a state-of-the-art snow rocket to have a blast on a hill. Grab your slider of choice and make it more challenging for older kids by creating tracks, racing (parent vs. kid), creating snow ramps, and developing a rating system for all the local hills you’ll try out. 

3. Snow football

Tackle and touch football in the snow can be hilarious, thanks to the lack of grip on winter gloves or mitts. Plus, diving to make that epic catch will get cushioned by soft powder. Bring some non-toxic watered-down paints to create an end-zone in the snow. Don’t forget to embarrass your kids with the ultimate touchdown dance.

4. Winter hiking

Many publicly funded parks in Canada take great care to keep trails clear for winter hiking. Create a scavenger hunt to focus on nature and see who can discover the rarest bird or animal tracks. Or bring snowshoes or cross-country skis and venture into less-travelled territory (but stick to marked trails for safety).

5. Shovel a neighbour’s property

Snow is inevitable, but shovelling can be a sport! Make a game of a necessary task by seeing who can make the most enormous snow pile or shovel the most neighbours’ sidewalks. Doing nice things for other people has been scientifically proven to have mood benefits

6. Winter market or festival

A nearby winter market or outdoor festival can feel like being in a little Scandinavian village. Try new treats, ride a Ferris wheel if they’ve got one, and make sure to take as many Instagram-worthy photos as your tween or teen will allow.

7. Winter bonfire

Whether you have access to a personal fire pit or can rent a public one, dressing in all the layers and gathering ’round a roaring bonfire in the dark can make much merriment. Add S’mores and hot beverages, ghost stories or singalongs, and find the warmth of being with folks you enjoy in a different setting. 

8. Outdoor winter games

It takes some planning, including buying some inexpensive prizes, but the multi-generational joy that a made-up winter sporting event can create is priceless. Blindfold someone and have their partner guide them to a hidden treasure with voice directions only. Make snow-people; the most-creative execution wins. Pass a snowball from spoon to spoon and carry it to the finish line without dropping it.

A dad and his two kids staying warm inside watching a movie on a laptop

6 indoor winter activities for families

The best part of doing fun and cheap winter activities outdoors is often coming home to a cozy nest. Keep everyone from getting bored with these six winter-friendly indoor activities you can try together.

1. Baking competition

Watch a few episodes of Nailed It! or The Great Canadian Baking Show for inspiration, then get out the flour and get creative. Whether decorating cookies, cupcakes, or other eye-popping desserts, baking is precise and requires attention, which can be highly meditative and calming. Video call your distant family or friends and ask them to judge your creations. Or drop extras to neighbours or loved ones for a surprise and delight moment.

2. Movie marathon

The best part of winter can be that endless jammie time. Attempt to get through a film series together, like all the Harry Potter films, Lord of the Ring, or Studio Ghibli movies. Snacks are essential, and delegating the menu to other family members (like your tween or teen!) can make for a bit of friendly competition. 

3. Board game tournament

Dust off the Uno, Risk, or whatever mix of old favourites or new board game boxes you’ve got lying around. Many board games can also double as fun money games for kids to help teach basic money concepts. Determine parameters in advance, like how many games in a row you’ll play, what constitutes winning, and whether you’ll whittle down to the finals round-robin-style. Sore loser behaviour means they’re in charge of refilling everyone’s drinks and snacks!

4. Camp out

Either as a sleepover with friends or just as a family, dust off the tent and sleeping bags and set up camp in the living room or basement. Create a camping-style menu (think: hot dogs, mini-boxed cereals, S’mores). Pretend it’s raining and play cards in the tent. 

5. Learn a TikTok dance

We guarantee laughs when you learn a trending TikTok dance as a family. See who can get the steps right the fastest, but don’t post without everyone’s consent! 

6. Homemade pizza night 

Get some fresh dough and watch a few videos to learn those twirly pizzeria moves. Set the table up in stations with a plethora of toppings and taste test everyone’s combinations or thoroughly enjoy your own personal pizza.

5 activities to learn and experience through the winter

Combine learning and fun with these five ideas that stretch your brain while having rewarding together time. If guided activities are more your speed, be a joiner and consider signing up for more organized events.

1. Volunteer

You don’t need to plan an international trip to make a big impact. Many local food banks and shelters need assistance picking up and packing items to share with their community. You’ll feel good contributing to making your neighbourhood a more caring space together.

2. Family fitness challenge

Set some family goals for increasing strength and/or flexibility, sign-up for online classes or watch free online videos on platforms like YouTube. Make printable charts to track everyone’s progress and commitment level and post it in a visible (read: motivating) spot. Choose a reward for the person who improves the most.

3. Take an online class

Learn a new language together, be it Spanish or coding. Or look into creative pursuits like learning the ukulele or art classes. Tie the learning to a longer term goal (e.g. a trip, a new gallery wall) to keep everyone engaged.

4. New small business idea

Watch a few episodes of Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den for inspiration. Then everyone goes off and comes up with their innovative business idea. Create presentations and even prototypes if you’d like. Find a group of family or friends to judge your final demonstrations. Who knows? You might just inspire the next generation of young entrepreneurs

5. Digital detox day

Agree upon a day a month where no devices are used. Turn off the Wi-Fi, put phones in a box and try any of the more analog ideas listed above (like hauling out a family board game). At the end of the day, have an informal family meeting where everyone discusses what they noticed and what they learned in the absence of technology.

How Mydoh can help raise money smart kids

After a full winter of trying out fun things to do outside, indoors or activities to learn, evaluate as a family what is worth a repeat. Raising money-smart kids? Encourage your child to track and review spending on each activity to compare and contrast. Which event cost the most? How would the sum total compare to a more lavish winter vacation?

Mydoh can help kids and teens who need some practice in money management! Parents can set up tasks your child can complete to earn a weekly allowance. This will help them learn how to make their own cash, save it, and spend it wisely. Learn more about the Mydoh digital Smart Cash Card.

Download Mydoh and help build the foundation of financial literacy for your kids and teenagers.

Online Learning Tips for Kids and Teens

Following the Ontario Government’s COVID-19 (Coronavirus) announcement, kids and teens in Ontario will switch to online learning starting January 5, 2022 for at least two weeks. However, Ontario isn’t the only province to announce the return of online learning because of the spread of Omicron. The province joins Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador, while other provinces have extended the winter break for students. 

With millions of kids and teens returning to distance learning, parents are having to pivot yet again—and could be forgiven for feeling dizzy at this point. Even if it’s not your first virtual learning rodeo, here are some tips to help support your kids’ online learning. 

How parents can help their kids with online learning

“Kids thrive on structure and schedules,” says Mardi Ennis-Gregory, a family service coordinator based in Toronto, ON. “Especially after the winter break, it is hard to transition back to school.” Here a few ways that parents can help set kids up for success:

1. Develop a schedule

At this point in the pandemic, most families have probably shifted to online learning. However, Ennis-Gregory says it’s still a good idea to sit down with your kids or teens and develop or revise a schedule together. Consider some of the following points:

  • What time do your kids need to wake up for online learning?
  • What are the morning expectations, such as getting dressed, brushing teeth, making their own breakfast?
  • Have a plan for what happens after school ends. Are kids expected to do chores? When will homework get done? This is especially important for teens who may have an hour or more of homework on top of their virtual learning.
  • Establish where kids can do their schoolwork without disturbing others in the house.

2. Create a workspace

Determine what your kids need to create an alternative workspace and whether they have the necessary equipment (such as a pair of cheap headphones or a Chromebook borrowed from their school, if needed). Even if it’s only for a couple of weeks, let kids decorate their workspace (within reason! After all, you want them to be able to concentrate on their lessons), so it feels like their own. 

Boy, woman, and girl stand at kitchen counter making lunch

3. Stick to a routine

School hours mean there’s already something of a routine in place for when they’re expected to be attending class virtually. During longer breaks (like lunch), encourage your tween or teen to help make themselves some healthy food and also clean up. For younger kids, parents who are also working from home may wish to schedule their lunch break at the same time to help kids prepare a healthy lunch and check in on their day. 

Ennis-Gregory suggests parents encourage an outdoor activity after school ends for the day. Depending on the age of your kids, this could be playing in the snow, a run to the park, walking around the block, or shooting some hoops. If it’s too cold to get outside, try yoga, or put on some tunes and have a mid-afternoon dance party—anything to spend a bit of energy and transition from online schooling to home life. When it comes to routine, also include homework time, as needed.

Read more: Best daily routines for kids and teens.

4. Practice good sleep hygiene

One thing Ennis-Gregory advises is for kids and teens to get their sleep schedule back on track. While kids and teens can have time with their electronics at night, consistent bedtime and exercise are key aspects of sleep hygiene and are more likely to help set them up for success. “The more structure kids have, the more their bodies will be alert and open to learning,” says Ennis-Gregory. 

Teen girl doing homework

5. Check in with kids’ learning 

As parents, you know your kids best. While some kids may seamlessly transition from in-class learning to virtual, not all kids and teens thrive. Parents can help support their kids by making sure they are completing their work and checking in when they need help. School Boards should have a system in place for parents to stay on top of their kids’ assignments, such as Google Classroom. Parents may also wish to check in with their child’s teachers if your kids need additional support in a subject that isn’t your strong suit (it’s hard enough being a parent, never mind also being able to solve algebra equations!).

6. Stay connected 

For some kids, distance learning means feeling disconnected from their friends and peers. Help your kids stay connected virtually with friends and extended family through popular social media platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, or through video chats. 

7. Allow for breaks and forgiveness

Entering the third year of a global pandemic and returning to online learning isn’t easy for anyone. Ennis-Gregory says it’s okay for your kids to grieve the loss of the routine and social interactions at school, or even to be happy about learning at home. “As parents, we do the best we can with what we have,” she says. “It’s also okay to ask for help as we do our best to be patient with our kids and ourselves.” 

Mental Health Resources for kids and teens in Canada 

As in-person school is placed on pause for millions of kids and teens in Canada, it’s normal for kids to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Here are some mental health resources available for parents and teens:

  • Kids Help Phone provides confidential, professional counselling for youth aged five to 29-years-old. Call toll-free 1-800-668-6868 anytime 24-hours a day.
  • The Government of Canada has a round up of COVID-19 resources for parents and teens 
  • CAMH has a list of resources and support youth and parents during COVID-19
  • Jack.org offers a COVID-19 youth mental health resource hub.
  • Youth Mental Health Canada lists resources, including crisis centres in each province and territory. 
  • Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) has resources for parents and kids in Ontario, including a list of publicly funded Child and Youth Mental Health Centres. 
  • Foundrybc.ca offers online and in-person health and wellness resources, services and support for youth aged 12-24 in British Columbia.

Read more: How to talk to kids and teens about mental health.

Learn more about how you can use Mydoh as a way to help your kids learn, earn, and save