Everyday life has been altered for the foreseeable future. People are working from home, various experts have advised that the general population practice physical distancing, millions of children from around the world have been displaced from their schools, all due to the novel coronavirus. The predicament has created a sense of uncertainty for everyone around the world. Families with children have been left asking, “what will our children do all day?”.
If you are working from home, like a large portion of our workforce, you need to keep your children busy with fun and educational activities to allow yourself time to accomplish other tasks.
Children are used to following a schedule, which makes having a routine during this time off essential to keeping your kids on track. The goal is to keep your children active, busy and learning. Use their school routine as a reference, and incorporate that framework into the at home routine for your child. Have meals at consistent times, dedicate time for play, and break the day down into smaller time slots, similar to what your child would experience in the classroom.
Below, we have compiled some examples of educational activities you can incorporate into your child’s at home routine.
Dedicate Time for Structured Play
When a child has time to play, they build their imagination, creativity, and can gain valuable learning experiences. You can incorporate different school skills into simple activities, providing them with entertainment and knowledge.
Some examples of simple indoor activities include:
– Car (Toy) Wash: Add tear-free soap into a bin with water and provide your children with sponges and towels. Let your children enjoy playing with their plastic toys within the water, and explain to them the importance of keeping items and surfaces clean.
– Something From Nothing: Use recycled materials as the canvas for your child’s art. Let your children have fun painting these objects and explain the importance of recycling resources.
– Letter Hunt: On a whiteboard, write various words with a letter missing from each. Write each missing letter on a sticky note, and hide them in various locations around the house. Have your child hunt for the sticky notes, and once they find them, have them place the appropriate letter in the appropriate location on the whiteboard to complete the words.
– Fun With Boxes: If your child is younger, a great way to build motor skills can be simply by letting them play with recycled cardboard boxes (think cereal or shoe boxes). Wrap the boxes in wrapping paper then let your baby handle them and learn to rip them open. With your assistance, you can also practice stacking the boxes, knocking them over and re-stacking them again.
– Tummy Time: It is recommended that babies sleep on their backs. However, when supervised, it is also recommended that babies get plenty of time on their fronts when they’re awake and alert enough to play. The time spent on their tummies helps to develop their neck and upper-body muscles for better head control.
Schedule Dedicated Reading Blocks
Start with 15-20 minutes a day, broken down into five minute segments. Vary how you and your children read to keep them engaged and interested in the activity. Try reading aloud to your child, have your child read aloud to you and occasionally have silent family reading time. Feel free to extend reading blocks as necessary if your child shows interest in the reading material.
After reading time, you can do an activity called story sequels with your child. Once the story or chapter is completed, provide them with paper, crayons and markers and have them draw a picture of what they think happens next.
For younger children, use this time to read with them. We have an entire blog post on the impact of reading with your children as young as infants here.
Make Good Use of Your Child’s Screen Time
Screen time doesn’t have to be looked down upon, but you should try and prevent your child from over indulging in excessive use. Like reading, make screen time scheduled and predictable for your child. Monitor the time they spend on screens daily at your discretion. Let your child dive into educational tv shows, films, or games, during their allotted screen time. You can even take virtual tours and watch behind the scenes footage of famous museums, theme parks for children and zoos here.
Be sure to also place more leisurely, unstructured play time into your child’s home routine, to help simulate break periods at school such as recess.
Having your child stick to a routine over this time off will help them acclimatize back to the school environment when the time does come. It will help to keep their lives structured and keep them engaged in the learning process. Throughout this journey, remember to be flexible and kind to yourself. Together, we can make the best of this current situation and eventually rise above it.