With the kids out of school and in the home during this season, life and schedules have undoubtedly changed for you and for them. They’ll be looking for things to do, and keeping kids busy and active will not only improve their wellness, but also yours as you navigate the current challenges of the world. Here are some tips to help you keep them occupied and healthy.
As we’re sure you’re aware, kids have lots of energy and require much more exercise than adults. Now that an official time of recess is not available to them in school, schedule time for them to go outside and play. The possibilities of what you and they can do outside are practically endless, from ball games to riding bikes to going for a walk (all while maintaining social distance from others, of course). Getting out of the house will give them a chance to get fresh air and get rid of cabin fever for a time.
Make a list of books for them to read, and read with them if you can. Encouraging kids to read not only improves their ability to think critically, but it also engages their imaginations and empowers their creativity. If they don’t want to read themselves, there are plenty of audio options available, too, from audiobook sites and celebrities who are reading stories aloud online and in live social events (like LeVar Burton reading children’s stories and Patrick Stewart reading Shakespeare).
One of the best ways to keep children entertained is to give them a creative problem to solve. This can take the form of riddles, brain teasers, jigsaw puzzles, puzzle games and much more. Many of these types of activities also require them to use their hands, which can help improve their coordination and connect their mental ability to solve problems with doing something manually.
Something that’s sure to get a child’s creative juices flowing is to give them an art project to tackle. Whether it’s coloring, drawing, writing a story, painting, molding clay or stacking plastic bricks, kids will love the opportunity to make something that they can call their own and feel a sense of accomplishment and pride about. Encourage them to get even more creative with their projects by making their own toys or repurposing cardboard with construction paper and glue to make their own playsets. When they’ve finished their projects, make sure to positively reinforce the activity and display the art somewhere if you can. Another artsy idea could be to hand-make cards and gift baskets to give to neighbors from a safe distance away. On a similar note, if your kids are interested in sewing, teach them to make masks and other forms of PPE to assist with stopping the spread of COVID-19!
This is a great time to teach your children how to cook. Recipes don’t have to be complicated and can come from the internet or the back of a package. Start by teaching them to make their favorite meals, snacks or treats, from macaroni and cheese to Chex Mix to chocolate chip cookies. For some kids, this will require adult supervision, but for others, once they get the hang of cooking and the rules of the kitchen, they’ll be able to make meals for themselves (and the family!).
Give kids the opportunity to dance without worrying about appearance or social norms, and you may be surprised what movements you see coming out of them. Become the DJ of your home and watch them jam to their favorite tunes. This can be a great opportunity for them to engage with a creative medium, and it will get out their wiggles, too!
Every family has board and card games that they enjoy. So take this time to break out the game boards and engage their strategic, competitive spirits. You can’t go wrong with teaching them classic games, too, like chess or dominoes. Or you could encourage them to make up their own games and introduce them to the family.
Right now, the collection of activity resources on the internet has never been bigger. Virtual tours of museums, historic sites, national parks and more are readily available, as are activity sheets, educational videos, interactive learning materials and live-streamed events. Other forms of entertainment are available for free right now, too, such as recordings of Broadway plays and live-streamed concerts from popular bands. All it takes is a quick internet or social media search to find them.
There are plenty more ways to keep kids busy where these came from, and you may find that if you get creative and involved in them, too, your kids will have a lot more fun and brighten your day. Be safe and stay home!