With the continued spread of the Covid-19 pandemic across the globe, many countries, like ours have had to put stringent lockdown protocols in place to try and flatten the curve. As a result, many families are confined to their homes, and this big change can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing – as well as our children’s – especially little ones between the ages of 2-7, because they can’t quite comprehend what’s happening and why they can’t go to the park.
The good news is, there’s a lot you can do at home with your kids, in between your work and chores, to help them feel safe, happy and secure in this time. It’s all about quality time over quantity and about having fun together, even though you can’t go out.
Ideas to keep kis entertained
I recently spoke to Jo-Ann Greenwood, who specialises in early childhood development, specifically children’s movement skills and physical activity, and we both agreed that whether you’re following a specific curriculum set out by your child’s school or you’re home schooling your way, here are the basics you need to know about how to keep your child entertained, while still stimulating them and giving them the cognitive learning they need. The most important thing to remember is that most children (young and old) learn through play, so you should always be engaging with your children, with this in mind.
When you plan your day, choose activities that incorporate fundamental learning and movement skills.
Learning skills include:
- Reading (or interacting with books and stories
- Writing (or learning letters, colouring in)
- Arithmetic and problem solving (learning about numbers and sequences)
Movement skills include:
- Spatial awareness
- Directionality (running and quickly changing direction)
- Timing and all forms of locomotion (Running, galloping, rolling, sliding, jumping, hopping etc)
There are many home-based games that you can play that require little or no apparatus, or things that you would have generally lying around the house. Check out this list of easy but educational games you could play with your child:
- Build an obstacle course at home with pillows, furniture and any other safe objects they can jump on, climb over, roll under etc. Also include something your child can balance on like a broomstick. We do this kind of thing with Bella all the time and she loves it!
- Play simple games to get your children moving like “Simon Says”, “Tag” and “Follow The Leader” or “Hide n’ Seek” – which is also linked to problem solving.
- Create a scavenger hunt outdoors where you ask your child to go and collect 1 stone, 2 leaves, 3 twigs, 4 flowers etc. Or you can ask your child to bring you 5 yellow items, 5 green items etc. (this helps with counting, colours and movement)
- For a simple fine motor activity, let your child thread dry macaroni onto wool or string.
- Nothing beats throwing and kicking a ball around for balance, coordination and movement!
- Of course, if you have paper, crayons, paint etc, encourage your child to let his/her creativity flow with a few drawing, painting and colouring activities. To make it more interesting, look for different items to paint or colour, such as the pavement (using chalk), carboard boxes, egg containers, paper cups or plates.
- Pour some salt or flour on a tray and allow your child to trace his/her name and other shapes
For sensory play…
Let your child experiment with things like shaving cream, flour and water, mud, coloured rice.
One of my favourite books, packed with sensory play activities is Ayesha Parak-Makada's Sticky Fingers - Sensory Play Recipe Book. It includes simple recipes, with many pantry staples including goo, paint, play dough, etc.
Just for you
I have 8 copies available for R200 each. To order this book, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and request it to be sent with your order or pay for it with your collection.
Why rebounding is the best activity for kids
Did you know jumping on a mini- trampoline (or big one if you have one in your garden) incorporates ALL the movement skill areas mentioned above, so if you want to optimise on your choice of activity for your child, then get them bouncing every day….
To make your life easier, I’ve created a series of short age- appropriate rebounding workouts that your child can do during lockdown! Check them out here.