Keeping Children Busy in the Days Ahead
Whilst there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is still a level of uncertainty surrounding the days and weeks ahead. Here is a list of general recommendations for parents in assisting their children at this time particularly during breaks from school. The following includes some examples of daily schedules to assist parents in providing structure, calm, routine, and expectations.
- Create Routines – Children thrive on routine. Consider keeping their regular bedtime and morning routines, sitting down for lunch at the same time as they would do at school, and writing out a daily schedule so that they know the plan for the day. Keeping these small things consistent can help children to feel regulated, calm and make a potentially scary situation feel much more predictable
- Schedule Playtime – While home is often seen as a place to relax and have fun, scheduling play/downtime may help children to feel like there is more of a routine. An average day in school fluctuates between time spent on learning, time to process and reflect, and time to have some fun. With an extended stay at home, it may help to touch on all of these activities. Scheduled playtime allows for a child to predict when they will have a break to move their bodies and decompress.
- Use Screens Wisely – Many parents will no doubt be working from home and have significant to-do lists of their own. While watching movies and favourite TV shows is likely an inevitable – consider exploring some more educational screen-based options as part of your child’s day. Resources such as National Geographic Kids, educationworld.com, among others can help to provide more academic content, including Social Studies, Science, Current Events and more. Speak to your teacher friends who I am sure will have more ideas on educational screen-based options.
- Move Your Body – While getting outside for some fresh air is the ideal way for our children to move their bodies, this may not be an option given that we live in Ireland. Thankfully, there are some creative ways to make sure our kids get in time for gross motor movement. Consider options such as building a pillow fort, keeping balloons up off the ground, having a dance party or setting up a home-made obstacle course.
- Develop Life Skills – Consider spending this time teaching some skills in the home: have children help with the process of doing a whole load of laundry from start to finish, work through a recipe for dinner together or clean surfaces around the house while explaining how to safely use different cleaning products. All of these experiences help a child to understand their future role as independent adults.
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- Work on the Broader Executive Functioning Skills – Executive functioning skills includes skills such as problem solving, time management, goal setting and organisation. Provide sorting activities, have a child create their own schedule, set a daily goal, practice telling the time or play some problem-solving games such as Heads-up, Charades or Guess Who.
Recommendations by Laura Sherry, Occupational Therapist :CORU registration number OT026827