How to keep kids occupied while they’re off school

With all schools cancelled and many people working remotely from home, parents are having to adjust to sharing a working space with their kids.

With families now working and learning from home at the same time, Brock University Professor of Educational Studies David Hutchison contributed a list of suggested activities for a Hamilton Spectator article about how to keep children occupied and engaged while they are away from school.

The 20-point list, which includes ideas for how to maintain exercise, education and well-being, aims to create a routine for children who are at home, which Hutchison said can set clear boundaries and help kids continue to learn and safely interact with their peers during an uncertain time.

A survival guide for parents at home with kids during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Check out your local library’s online resources.
  • Talk to your kids about the virus, but at their level. Don’t overwhelm them with information but explain the science and offer hope for the future.
  • Remind children that although we don’t know how long self-isolation will last, it is temporary.
  • Limit kids’ exposure to the news. The TV or radio should not be on all day.
  • Draw up a schedule to keep kids in a routine.
  • Strive to keep kids eating healthy.
  • Ensure kids get exercise. They’re still allowed to play outside.
  • Set aside 15 minutes every day as part of your routine for the entire family to participate in an in-home exercise regime that gets everyone moving. Ask children to come up with exercises that everyone can do
  • Teach kids life skills such as how to do laundry, buy groceries, plan meals and cook.
  • For young children, try to have paper and pencil crayons on hand for drawing. Young children often deal with their feelings and anxiety through drawing which is important for their mental health
  • If you’re teaching school lessons to kids, keep the lessons short — three to five minutes for elementary students and 10 to 20 minutes for high school students. Then ask your children to apply the lessons learned.
  • Monitor emails. Your child’s school or teacher may send you information about how to keep them learning.
  • Engage with your child’s teacher. Ask for clarification if you have questions about lessons they send.
  • Keep kids writing. Ask them to write a science fiction story, write down their feelings, review a movie, or write a letter to a grandparent.
  • Have older children read to younger ones.
  • Play board games.
  • Create a scavenger hunt for kids.
  • Have kids go outside and draw up a map of their neighbourhood.
  • Practise meditation or dedicate time for kids to listen to music in a quiet room.
  • Remain calm!

The full Hamilton Spectator article is available here.

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