With schools now closed for most pupils, parents will be looking for ways to keep the kids entertained as well as continuing their learning.
We’ve pulled together some tips for those who now find themselves with kids at home every day to help them keep them happy, healthy and learning.
Establish a routine
Children and adults alike work well under a structure, especially a good morning routine. Ensuring kids get dressed in the morning and eat breakfast at a normal time will help them remain switched on for the day ahead.
If you’re currently home schooling, or your kids are working to an online/remote curriculum, try to set up a specific space for their ‘classroom’. If this is a room that can be designated entirely for learning, even better, as it will help them to switch off when they are in other areas of the house.
You could also consider setting breaks and lunch at a regular time. As there will be plenty of time in the evenings for relaxing, being firm on when ‘study’ and ‘play’ times are will ensure education is still being valued.
Limit screen time
While social media and messaging may be the only way kids can contact their friends at the moment – there are other ways for them to entertain themselves. Try, with younger children especially, to ensure they spend at least some time each day during downtime doing something non-digital. Encourage reading, playing in the garden, mini exercise sessions or baking.
If your kids want to video chat or call friends, maybe set up a time each day for them to catch-up and socialise. If your kids don’t have their own mobiles or computers, maybe call their friends’ parents and see if virtual ‘playdates’ can be set up, to make sure they’re keeping in touch and socialising.
Limiting screen time should be particularly important during study time, as pupils at school would not usually be allowed their phones – this doesn’t need to change at home!
Plan fun nights after studying
Just because you can’t go out, doesn’t mean you can’t arrange fun activities in the house. Try baking, making a home cinema with blankets and popcorn, having a board game night or even just make sure you all eat dinner together at the table some nights.
Playtime could also involve exercise. Consider using online tutorials or games to ensure your kids are keeping fit and healthy while still having fun – they could even do these with friends through video chat.
The Body Coach (also known as Joe Wicks) is running free online ‘PE’ classes for kids daily – and there are plenty more tutorials available online – so you don’t need to worry about designing classes!
If you’re working from home, set boundaries
If you or your partner can work from home during the current pandemic, it may seem difficult to ensure you get your work done while still looking after your children.
Like your kid’s ‘classroom’, if you possibly can have a designated workspace, do so. Start work at a regular time and try to keep a normalised routine. Try and make sure your kids are aware of and respect this.
You also need to be honest with your employer about the limitations of your new working environment. You may not be able to respond to every call or email instantly but setting boundaries with your kids from the offset should help with this.
Take care of your mental health
Work, education and downtime are, of course, important, but during this incredibly strange and stressful time we all need to make sure we are taking care of mental health just as much as our physical health. This can be as simple as making sure you are still being sociable by contacting friends regularly, spending time in the garden to get fresh air, or switching off for a while and listening to music.
If things get very difficult, there are also a number of online counselling services you can make use of, such as Quell, which can offer support and guidance remotely.
You can find out more about the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has on schools, education and all Council services on the Derby City Council website.