Written by Anna Gladstone-Buchanan, Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Cleo Family Guide, and Taylor Davis, Certified Birth Doula and Cleo Family Guide
With more and more school closures happening across the world, many parents have been writing to us with concerns about what to do with kids at home. You might be worried about how this might impact your child’s education. You might simply be wondering how to keep a baby or toddler from going stir crazy when you’re all home. When it comes to education, some schools might provide a list of things to focus on while at home, or specific curriculum to follow, but chances are that most will not. And when it comes to entertainment, we all assume that “screen time rules” might be a bit more flexible than usual these days. Going beyond that, have great recommendations of games and activities for kids of all ages.
Learning happens naturally in so many ways, and it can be fun to see the ways in which your kids are learning both conventional and unconventional things all the time. Need to get dinner ready? Chat about fractions and proportions while you follow the recipe. Have a relative living far away who might love to hear from your kids? Offer a creative writing prompt: ask your child(ren) to pick up the thread and share their thoughts in the letter (you can transcribe for younger kids). Even better, talk about how letters get from one place to another and learn about the postal system. Is there a topic that your child just loves, but doesn’t get enough time to explore in their daily life? Follow them down the rabbit hole with it – books, videos, conversations, board games, imaginary games, and activities that dive into what they love can be so much fun and a great way to connect. Don’t forget, not 100% of their time needs to be focused on education.
Ways to Engage Kids of All Ages:
Go Outside: Energy levels can run high and opportunities for movement are essential to young children’s learning. If you’re able to get outside (backyard, driveway), it will really bolster the physical and mental health of you and your children. If you can’t go out and energy levels are high, how about some indoor olympics? You could try:
- Hula hoop
- Trash can basketball (with rolled up balls of paper)
- Obstacle course
- Discus (using paper plates)
- Simple gymnastics displays
- Good old-fashioned dance party or yoga session together
Stay Connected: Community connection will help keep spirits high at this time too. Think about scheduling regular virtual meet-ups with friends! This can be via a free platform, such as Zoom.us – schedule a regular meeting, send out invites, and enjoy sharing what you’ve been up to. You could even plan a little show-and-tell or talent show. Face-timing your loved ones is also a great way to keep your kids connected!
Toys and Games: This is the perfect time to dust off your game boards, puzzles, arts & crafts and toys! Create a daily activity box (filled with certain toys and games) for each day of the week that your child can play with. Get them excited for a specific toy/or activity for that day, that way they don’t get bored and have something to look forward to. If you want to change things up, provide your kids with blankets and pillows and allow them to build a fort where they can explore and hang out for a good part of the day.
Reading and Podcasts: This is the perfect time to get your kids into reading, if they aren’t already. Designate a time of day for reading. It’s also a great way to get some quiet time for yourself! Another great alternative is turning on some kid-friendly podcasts. We recommend Story Pirates and Smash Boom Best! Turn on a podcast and have your kids settle in with some arts and crafts, or legos, while listening.
Scavenger Hunts: There are so many different ways to do this! This article has great ready-made clues that you could use to make a little hunt for your kids around the house (maybe include a fun little prize at the end). If your kids are older, they might enjoy creating and hiding their own clues for each other or for you. Kids who aren’t yet writing could also make picture clues. The possibilities are endless, and kids often LOVE doing these.
The more you can give yourself and your kids grace and space to figure out your new routines, the better you’ll be able to take care of everyone’s mental and emotional well-being (including your own) – and that is so important during challenging times like this.
When it comes to their education, kids can and will absolutely keep learning while they’re at home. It’s naturally going to look different than their day-to-day life at school. Please don’t feel pressured to exactly replicate school at home. Instead, you and your kids can use a variety of resources and materials to pursue learning in a way that feels right to you as a family (in conjunction with any guidelines/resources shared by your schools).
We believe that communities can pull together to get through this time. Stay connected to your loved ones and don’t underestimate the power of virtual connection. It’s our hope that no family feels like they’re in this alone.