You’re suddenly faced with the prospect of being at home for the foreseeable future and if you’re a parent you’ll have your kids off school with you which is a pretty daunting reality! Keeping children busy and happy and making sure they’re not plonked in front of a screen all day can feel like a big task for some – especially when you weren’t expecting it and haven’t had long to plan.
Many of us are also teaching our children from home with materials provided by school while trying to work from home ourselves which is a very big ask! To help it feel less overwhelming, we’ve put together tonnes of educational and fun activities that you can plan into your day.
Make a timetable
It’s a great idea to have a loose structure in place if you can. Divide the day up into a timetable and stick it on the fridge or the wall so that everyone can see it. This gives you a routine and time to plan other things around your day as you know when you will and won’t be busy.
Have time set out for educational tasks and break it up with fun activities (and actual breaks!) to keep your kids engaged and happy.
Don’t stress about filling every moment of their day and don’t stress if they do end up watching a bit more telly than usual or playing computer games. This is a tricky time for all of us, and it’s all about balance.
Although schools are providing parents with materials for ‘at home teaching’, including ideas for keeping active, it can be difficult to encourage our kids to exercise when they aren’t obliged to like they are in a P.E lesson. Utilising YouTube for kids work out plans can help – for example, P.E with Joe Wicks live at 9AM on YouTube Monday-Friday. This is a great way to start the day off for both you and the kids and don’t worry if you miss it as its available to revisit on YouTube for free.
Enjoy the sunshine
As the nice weather creeps upon us, we are able to take indoor activities outside and enjoy the sunshine. Although we may not be able to leave the house, it is important that we get enough fresh air and sunlight. Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can dip. Low levels of serotonin are associated with a higher risk of depression and low moods. If you haven’t got a garden make sure you get out with the kids for some daily exercise like a walk or a bike ride!
With all the extra time on our hands, we can finally let our kids relax and get messy with all the time in the world to clean it up afterwards. This is great idea for young children and babies as messy play is extremely important for a child’s development. It provides children with an exciting tactile and sensory experience that inspires their curiosity, allows them to explore the world around them and enhances their learning, language, and creativity. Children learn through experimentation and discovery and messy play encourages children to explore new textures and manipulate different materials through touch. Paint, shaving foam and rice crispies are all great for messy play and are very easily accessible.
Not only does messy play enhance a child’s cognitive development and learning, but it also improves a child’s physical development as well! With the weather improving this can also be done outside!
Create in the kitchen
Cooking with children can be a great way to get through making dinner and can also be a great way for kids to try something they wouldn’t usually do. This can be really exciting for kids.
Even from a very young age, children love to get their hands into a bowl of something and mix it!
Baking and cooking are both fun ways to learn. Older children can learn a lot from researching the menu, budgeting for the ingredients and then following the recipe. As well as being a great collaborative activity, it can help children develop a range of key skills including literacy and numeracy. Getting children involved in preparing family meals is likely to help them try new food and eat better at meal times.
Join in an online kid’s party
Children’s party company Captain Fantastic have launched a series of online classes, parties and children’s shows for children and their families to enjoy.
Highlights include the 24-Hour Kids Party which allows families around the world to tune in and come together for non-stop fun – all for free.
There is a mix of interactive activities including magic, music, dancing, quizzes, singing, science tricks, nursery rhymes, fitness, story time, instruments, meditation, origami and drama games.
Create a tuck shop
A creative mother behind Instagram shared this clever idea of making a ‘tuck shop’ where her children could ask to ‘buy’ any snacks or treats they wanted throughout the day.
She explained that each day she gives them £1 to spend as they please on the tasty treats in the kitchen cupboard.
Not only does this teach them about money and spending but it also helps limits the number of treats they eat.
Drawing can be a great way to keep children busy and creative, particularly if parents are working from home.
Colouring books are calming and a great activity for relieving anxiety. You can also download lots of free colouring in sheets and apps on your tablet.
You could also give your child a sketch book that they’re encouraged to add to and stick things into every day. It helps develop their artistic eye as well as develop sketching skills.
Once a week you can then look through it together and decide to develop any ideas that really stand out – a still life that could be done larger or a cartoon strip they can add words to. And colouring is good for all of us – it’s essentially mindfulness; something we can all benefit from right now in these testing times.
Look out for signs of spring
Whether you’re peering out of the window or you’re fortunate enough to have a garden to explore, why not challenge your kids to look out for the first signs of spring they can spot.
They could keep a chart of the flowers, birds and trees they can see and then use online resources to identify them.
This is something you can come back to each day, allowing them to see just how mother nature works her magic.