Due to the current Coronavirus threat, schools are closed, thereby forcing children to stay at home for safety reasons. I’m assuming that a lot many parents maybe now faced with a bigger dilemma – a prompt and effective response to that dreaded question, “Mom/Dad, what to do now? I’m bored!”
For Homeschooling parents like us, it’s not much different as it’s a usual routine for the kids to stay home for the most part of the day except that they would play with friends and engage in few other outdoor activities later in the evening. So that looks different now for us too since all of that is suspended for a time.
In this article, I’ll share some ways in which we manage our day with the kids and hope it helps you in this season.
What we learnt from our experience is that as parents we have to be flexible and creative in dealing with children at home. There is, of course, a routine and structure we follow every day but the beauty of this journey is that of discovering and adopting new techniques of doing things along the way, what works and what doesn’t, it’s all for a season.
Here are a couple of ways you can keep your children engaged while they are at home.
1. Designate House Chores
Once the boys are up, they have their bath, tidy their beds, have breakfast, clean up the table and dishes and these days since our helpers are also under quarantine, our kids help out with sweeping and mopping the floors, cleaning the bathrooms, dusting and such too.
Is the result perfect or top quality? Not really. But they are striving to achieve the best and give it all they got. The most important lesson they are learning is that no work is ‘Big or Small’. This is a good habit to cultivate in children while they are at home as it enables them to feel competent and also gives them a sense of responsibility.
2. Cultivate Reading Habits
Instead of allowing them to sit idle in front of a screen, whether TV, iPad, computer or mobile, give them books to read. If you can’t afford hard copies, use Amazon Kindle, the app can be downloaded in any device. And if you buy the Kindle Unlimited subscription which is for Rs 199/month, you can download a lot of books for free.
3. Engage in creative activities
There are a lot of creative activities you can engage your child in. According to their age group, you can pick and choose from a variety of creative activities available on the internet.
Experts say creativity is innate, so it can’t be lost. But it needs to be nurtured. While your children are at home, this is an excellent opportunity for you to engage them in creative activities. It will require a lot of energy from your end but trust me it will all be worth it.
Creative engagements are necessary because the first connection through mediums like art, music, poetry, storytelling, and theatre helps them connect with reality and instils a sense of self-awareness. It improves the quality of life through increased self-esteem and self-confidence and builds a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
4. Talk to them in length
While your children are at home, talk to them, allow them to talk and express their feelings, their thoughts, and their dreams. My best time with my boys is right before they go to sleep; I get to lie down with them and hear them out, tell stories and make silly jokes.
Talking and allowing them to express themselves, instils a sense of confidence in them which allows them to express their thoughts and imaginations more clearly and in a variety of forms.
We need to encourage their curiosity, nurture and celebrate creativity, cultivate imagination, not rush them but let them learn these things at their own pace, teaching them that no dream is beyond their reach and encourage them to give their best at what they do. All this can be taught and communicated while we talk to them in length.
5. Make Best Use of technology
What remains a threat to children, though, especially in this generation is technology. Excessive screen-time is the enemy that will disrupt meaningful development in your child. I’m not saying to ban every device, but just like all other activities, there should be reasonable limits set in place. If technology displaces important activities such as family time, face-to-face interaction, play, exercise, sleep, and so on, then it poses a serious issue for the children. Many times we try to calm down our kids by giving them a device but that isn’t right.
Children need to be taught how to identify and handle strong emotions, come up with activities to manage boredom, talk about ways to solve problems and find other strategies for channelling emotions but children who are addicted to technology fail to develop these habits.
Having said that, whenever you do permit your children limited time on screen, they can access a number of educational resources/websites/links over the internet (once you have reviewed it) which they can use to their maximum advantage.
We have been watching thought-provoking family dramas and documentaries with our boys that convey valuable lessons and provide a lot of inspiration. You may want to give it a try.
6. Family Games
Playing board games, card games, word games, charades are fun ways to connect and bond as a family. Children value the time you invest in them besides the fact that they also develop fine motor skills, memory, and imagination. They learn teamwork, patience and most importantly, the tough one, how to win or lose gracefully (our younger one is still working at that ;)). In a time when a lot of families are struggling to find the balance between technology and family bonding times, games are a very effective way to build that emotional connection.
I hope these tips will help you to a certain extent to help engage your child at home while their schools are closed. If you like to know more about our homeschooling journey you can check our book “The Homeschooling Indians“, kindle & hard copy available on Amazon.
Do let us know if you have any particular query you want us to address in our future blogs.