Keeping Kids Busy during COVID-19

Our most recent Motherhood class, led by Rabia, was about navigating all aspects of parenting during this COVID-19 pandemic. We know it is difficult to go from working and having kids at school or daycare, or going about our day while kids are in school,  to suddenly being at home full-time with kids who still need to receive an education. We, therefore, wanted to provide Lifers with resources that can help them and their children during this time. We also felt it was necessary to provide our Lifers who might not have a steady income with more information on receiving food, as well as resources within the community. Below is a recap of the class:

The first step in managing life during this pandemic is to have an open and honest conversation with your child(ren) about the coronavirus. As we all know, misinformation goes around, especially on all social media platforms. Specifically on apps, such as Instagram or TikTok! Through those social media platforms it is very easy for “myths” and “misinformation” to spread easily. For example, there are multiple children on these apps who are reacting to several false news reports.

It is completely normal for children to feel overwhelmed with everything that is happening, from school closing, to switching to online school, understanding social distancing, not being able to play with friends, and missing out on events they were looking forward to attending. Children will likely not understand everything that is going on, which is why parents need to discuss with their child(ren) in an open and honest way the reasoning behind all of the changes occurring. Talk with them to make sure that not only do they understand, but that the correct information is being given. 

Children also need to be aware of what precautions to take, such as washing their hands for at least 20 seconds (singing Happy Birthday twice = 20 seconds), practicing social distancing, and wearing face masks if and only if they exhibit symptoms.  

Parents also need to give updates on, not only the virus itself, but the policies and procedures surrounding the virus if kids who are old enough to understand. Policies and procedures such as what the local, state, and federal governments are doing in response to combat the disease. Additionally  parents need to make sure that children who are old enough to search online, or already use the internet, are aware of what is or isn’t a reliable source. CNN, PBS, and MSNBC are examples of news sources that someone can trust for updates about the coronavirus. Ensure they know that sources like Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok are unreliable sources. 

After discussing with children about the coronavirus, parents should make sure there is a set routine. Kids, of all ages, thrive on routines and a set schedule. Without it, it is a mess! 

Children need structure, meaning making sure they know what they need to do each day and for how long. Children switching from going to school to having it primarily online at home need to understand a new form of structure, which will need to be deemed by the parent. Children are still considered “students.” Therefore, it is important to make sure they are still getting up at their normal time, sticking to  their normal routine (i.e. showering, eating breakfast, and brushing their teeth). Additionally, a physical, visual planner for the week is absolutely necessary. As mentioned, children need structure, and by having a weekly planner, they see their “set” schedule for the week, which keeps them in line. These planners can be pretty and colorful and can be made easily on a computer or by hand. 

Schools and individual teachers should have sent out emails about how students are going to keep up their schoolwork and assignments. So, make sure you have time slots for each assignment or school subject. If the assignments are unclear, make sure to email the teacher promptly to get a better understanding. 

When it comes to recess for your children, this is where you can be creative! For elementary school age kids have them do an “at-home” recess. During an “at-home” recess children can play with toys, or play pretend with their parents/siblings so that their imagination is still stimulated. Remember, that you can have recess with friends through FaceTime or other video platforms so your children can still interact with other children their age. They can do a scavenger hunt for items in or outside. Build your own obstacle course. There are a lot of ideas on Facebook and throughout the internet. 

For middle and high school aged children, they should have 5 to 10-minute breaks between classes to simulate their walking time at school between classes. They may decide to spend that time on their phone, which is fine, but make sure they are moving around the house while doing it, as it is important that everyone gets time for movement, as it improves both their focus and thought process. Sometimes school assignments will not take as long as 7 to 8 hours, or the normal school day. Therefore, if assignments are completed early, this is a perfect time to instruct children on so-called “life skills” that are not necessarily taught at school. Those life skills include, and are not limited to, cooking, cleaning, sewing, and budgeting. Additionally it is important to make sure your children are reading during their time in quarantine and social distancing. It is proven that reading helps children developmentally, as well as improves both spelling and fundamental writing skills. 

Tips on how to help your child in various subject areas: 

Reading comprehension can be taught by having a child read out loud to a family member or stuffed animal. Another creative way is to have them perform a “rhyming battle,” which is when one person throws out a word then the other says a word that rhymes with it and so on and so forth, until you can’t think of any more words. For example a parent would say “bat” then the child would say “cat” then the parent would say “hat” and so on. 

Writing can be learned through journaling. Parents can instruct their child(ren) to journal about their day before they go to sleep. Also applying subjects to real world situations and tasks can be a great way for the child(ren) to learn. For example, math can be applied to cooking, children can see how to measure the proper amount of ingredients, ultimately learning how math is applied in real world situations. For science, it could be fun for both you and the child(ren) to create a garden, in order for children to see the plant growth process occur right before their eyes! 

Physical activity is a mandatory class in school for children, therefore P.E. class should still occur at home. YouTube can be a great resource for children, as there are several videos of at-home stretches and one-minute workouts they can do to get their heart pumping. Washing a car if the weather warms up again or doing an Easter Egg hunt are just a couple of things to do.

Another important subject students attend while at school is Art class, as it helps with their overall development and allows the child(ren) to be creative. Therefore, making time to include a daily art project at home is important. It could be as simple as coloring a coloring book page or as intricate as making something out of paper mache.  Some other ideas include, making sculptures out of recycled materials, drawing or sketching their surroundings, or creating a dance routine. 

It is also necessary to make sure that children have both, social and emotional contact. This can be done simply through playing a board game or calling a friend or family member. A child can also draw their emotions or describe the emotions of a character in a book. 

Remember that there are resources for students who have free or reduced lunches. The link below provides locations for students, and their families, to receive fresh meals. This link is for those who live in the surrounding Richmond areas. 

Lastly, for those who are without the internet, don’t fret! They can go to Comcast and Spectrum for 60 days of free wifi for students. If you do not have a device for your child to do their homework (phone, computer) then one can call the teacher or guidance counselor to see other options that are available for your child(ren). Just remember, there are options and that you are not alone during this time!

And always remember to stay safe during this trying time.