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As schools and daycares remain closed and parents balance parenting and working from home, families are facing long days while under quarantine. Parents for whom working from home isn’t an option face a particular hardship, as schools provide meals, specialized education and before and after school care. If you or your partner have found yourself inside your home, trying to smoothly transition your children into at-home life, your biggest question might be: What will our kids do all day?
Ann Richards, Activity Coordinator within the Department of Family Services, shares activities that parents can do alongside their kids that facilitate active, engaged learning. Whether you are a stay at home parent or scheduling conference calls during nap time, keep in mind these key tips.
- Establish a routine. Children respond well to routine, and providing structure to your days is important so kids know what to expect for the day. There might be days where routines are hard to manage or sustain, and that is okay. You can return to them the next day or the day after that.
- Block educational time or homework in the morning. Using the regular schedule kids keep at school, honor your child’s typical routine and try to complete homework in the morning. “As a former teacher, kids perform best in the morning,” said Ann. “Especially with projects or work that take concentration, they are rested and more focused.”
- Have occasional surprises. Whether it’s having ice cream, FaceTiming Grandma or calling a parent at work, incorporating fun and unexpected surprises can bring a boost of joy to the day!
Below are eight enriching activities that will keep children learning.
- Free drawing. Give kids unlined paper and crayons or markers and have “free drawing” time for a half-hour. Before dinner, kids can show you their creations.
- Paper plate animals. Have paper plates on hand? Use different-sized paper plates, paint, construction paper and more to create everything from chickens to zebras.
- Play classic games in a new way. Bring out the board games! Play Candyland backward, or play checkers where diagonal jumping is allowed. Whatever games you have, allow kids to make new rules.
- Create a Lego Museum. For a half-hour each day, kids can work on Lego structures and walk you (or a family member on video chat) through their gallery, explaining their creations.
- Explore outside. Go for a ride or walk, while practicing social distancing, and play a game of I Spy. Together with your kids, create a sheet of things they can check off. Will they see a dog? A red car? A bird? Get creative!
- Make time for reading. After lunch, read a book at your child’s reading level for a half hour. You can also listen to a book online or tune in to a virtual storytime. If reading a chapter book, keep reading time short, unless they ask you to continue, to keep it engaging and positive.
- Take a virtual tour of zoos and aquariums. Tune in to live animal cams to watch fishes swim at the Shedd Aquarium or check out the Cincinnati Zoo’s Live Safari where you can complete activities while learning about animals.
- Learn simple origami. Using plain paper, you can practice simple origami folds to create fish, butterflies and more. Take your creations and draw animal habitats for them. Whether it’s an aquarium or the deep ocean for origami fish or an open field for butterflies, you’ll have hours of folding fun.*This blog originally appeared on Lurie Children’s Blog