Keeping your children entertained while social distancing
Social distancing, while necessary, can prove to be difficult, especially for those with children. Many young children, teenagers and parents are likely experiencing levels of confusion and frustration as their schedules and routines are disrupted. As parents, you may be worried that your child’s education will be hindered or that they will quickly become bored at home. The good news is that we live in a connected world, and there are resources available for children of all ages to assist with both school and entertainment.
One thing to keep in mind as you look through these resources is that children, especially younger children, often work better on a schedule. As a childcare provider at Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support, I know that when we have more structured activities for the kiddos, we tend to have less conflict and greater productivity. You may want to consider creating a schedule with your child so they know what their day will look like in hopes of mimicking their school schedules as well as reducing unstructured time. Talk with your child about what their school expects from them as well as your expectations of them while they are at home. Your schedule may include time to eat, study, work, do chores, play, exercise or sleep. This will take some time and getting used to but, ultimately may help you and your child maintain a sense of normalcy and reduce anxiety within your household.
Those living in abusive homes may have extra considerations about triggers brought on by the added stress of having children at home. For instance, if excessive noise is a trigger for an abusive partner, structuring quiet activities may be the best option to help reduce additional stress. You are the expert of your own life, so think through what activities might be best for your particular situation.
- Take your child for a walk around the neighborhood. You can use this opportunity to not only stay healthy, but to check in with your child and play games such as iSpy and Would You Rather. Teenagers also tend to open up more when they aren’t forced to make eye contact.
- If your child enjoys sports, you can play catch or pass with a ball in your yard.
- GoNoodle has various movement and mindfulness videos as well as games to help focus your children and provide structured “brain breaks.”
- One resource that I often used working as a preschool teacher was Cosmic Kids yoga videos on YouTube. They vary in length and are great brain breaks for kids, especially on rainy days!
- Another way to get your kids moving is through movement videos found on YouTube – simply search for “movement videos for kids.” Many of these videos are also educational and allow kids to practice their numbers, letters, etc. Two great options for this are:
- Learning Station videos
- Jack Hartman videos
- Freeze dance/dance party with your kids – there are many kid-friendly playlists on YouTube, including Disney compilations from all your child’s favorite movies.
- An alternative to this is having each child wear headphones connected to a device, while all listening to the same song, and having a silent dance party!
Educational Resources for Younger Children
- “Play Wisely” hosts classes Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays on Facebook Live.
- Lakeshore offers numerous free worksheets and activities for children.
- Scholastic offers resources for grades Pre-K through 9th
- Khan Academy offers resources for children aged 4-18.
- Brainpop is currently offering free usage of educational videos for kids.
- ABCMouse offers educational activities for young children.
- Jumpstart offers educational games and resources for parents with young children.
- Pinterest has ideas for educational activities and games, as well as arts and crafts.
- “Teachers Pay Teachers” has many free activities that you can use for your kiddos to practice various skills.
- Cool Math games offers fun math and logic games for elementary and middle school children.
- Coolmath4kids offers games and academic resources for kids and parents.
Educational Resources for Older Children
- Quizlet allows users to make digital flashcards and study materials digitally.
- HippoCampus provides educational videos for students in middle school through high school.
- Zoom allows for free video conferencing that can help students communicate with their teachers and classmates, especially college-age students who may not be in the same city.
Educational Virtual Field Trips
- Tour The White House here.
- Tour the Washington Monuments here.
- Tour the National Museum of Natural History here.
- Tour the San Diego Zoo here.
- Tour the Boston Children’s Museum here.
- Tour the Louvre Museum here.
- Encourage children to read, read to them or have them listen to a read aloud session on YouTube.
- Give kids a journal that they can decorate and use daily to write or doodle in.
- Shop online! Stores like Michaels and Target have many inexpensive craft sets and activities for kids to do, including paint sets, yarn crafts and foam activities. You can also buy canvases or paper and follow tutorials online.
- Michaels is hosting live family activities on Facebook every Wednesday at noon.
- Play board games or card games.
- Enjoy a family puzzle.
- Virtual rides – on YouTube, you can find videos for many Disney park rides.
- For extra fun, have your child sit in an open box/laundry basket and make the sound effects and movements of the ride.
- Build a fort with towels or blankets.
- Play finish the story – start telling a story, and after a minute or two, switch and have the next person continue it.
- Play hide and seek.
- Make jewelry from string and beads.
- Host an in-house fashion show.
- Have relay races or obstacle challenges.
- Have a paper airplane contest or try origami.
Whether your child is coming home from college or is in grade school, recent school closures have made everyone’s lives more challenging, so get creative! Not every day will run perfectly as you juggle your roles as a parent, employee and substitute teacher, but we’re all in this together!
Written by Emma Coleman, advocacy intern at Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support.