These are unprecedented times in which schools are closing indefinitely, and parents have the unenviable task of trying to keep their kids busy and learning. All this while social distancing and stay-at-home orders are making it difficult for them to stay connected with their friends and family.
Here are a few ideas for keeping them engaged until schools re-open:
Some “hands-on” ideas for younger children
Pediatrics experts suggest the following activities:
- Let your child be the teacher. Using a whiteboard or paper, allow them to teach you some of the skills and knowledge they already have acquired. It’s an effective way for them to reinforce what they have learned.
- Use painter’s tape to create a maze on the floor and have them drive their toy vehicles through it.
- Make homemade crafting dough or slime.
- Plant some seeds in cups. Then, place them in a sunny spot to get a start on the summer vegetable garden.
- Let them become pen pals with friends so they can practice their writing skills.
- Read with them.
- Print out a nature scavenger hunt list and take them outside.
- Visit Storyline Online, where celebrities are reading books out loud.
- Using a flashlight, draw pictures on the wall and have them guess what they are.
- Fill plastic bins with sensory items for them to explore.
- Color in coloring books or on downloaded coloring pages.
- Build puzzles together.
- Build a “fort” with them, and use it for play or as a reading nook.
- Check out the Lunch Doodles video series with Mo Willems, Artist-in-Residence, at The Kennedy Center, as he gives quick drawing lessons.
Try these activities for older children
- Play board games with them.
- Bake cookies and other treats.
- Involve older kids in cooking dinner one or two nights each week.
- Open the lines of communication. Use the time off as an opportunity to talk with older kids on how they’re doing, making sure to listen carefully. Being stuck at home can be especially hard on teens.
- Have older kids take advantage of YouTube to learn some new skills such as music lessons, dance, arts and crafts, etc.
- Encourage them to start a journal during their time at home. It could prove to be an extraordinary keepsake later in life.
- Allow them to use FaceTime and other apps to connect with friends for socializing or studying virtually.
- Write letters of encouragement and send them to residents of local nursing homes.
Search the internet for more virtual experiences that will keep your kids entertained while they are isolated at home. You’ll find a few zoo and aquarium webcams, museum tours, concerts, and much more. Keeping everyone engaged can make this time at home much more enjoyable as we all do our part to get through COVID-19.