Updated: Mar 19
Coronavirus is currently consuming most of our thoughts and there is no doubt that fear, one of our greatest emotions, is at play. As parents, we have to stay mindful of how our actions and words are currently impacting on our children. It is our responsibility to actively combat the chaos, uncertainty and fear by keeping our homes safe, calm and filled with hope.
For those of us who are parents, the thought of having our children off school for long periods can be a worry. Growth and Grit is all about supporting parents to raise strong children. In this uncertain season, that doesn’t change; we all want to do the best for our children, and I am here to support you throughout this pandemic. With some planning and preparation, you can combat the chaos that’s happening outside and provide normality and routine within your home.
Do you have a plan for what to do with your children during this time?
Maybe you’re feeling worried about how to keep your children busy, prevent boredom and stop them from behaving like hooligans? Perhaps you are thinking about how you’re going to juggle work and childcare, while not letting your children have too much screen time? Or maybe you’re simply feeling overwhelmed by heightened emotions. No matter what you are feeling, read on to discover how some simple strategies from Growth and Grit can help.
Structure and routine help children to thrive. By limiting screen time, it can help children to be more cooperative and less moody. We all know how difficult it is to juggle our responsibilities whilst also doing the best for our children, it’s one of the biggest difficulties we face. Forming a plan is a powerful step forward.
Certainty brings sanity
By creating structure and routine even without the school day, it is easier to achieve a calmer home life and help you to stay sane.
During this time of crisis, my focus will be to support my children with learning, but also to use the opportunity to develop their emotional intelligence and resilience through daily tasks and activities.
Shared here is the template I am using with my children, which you can download for free and easily adapt.
I am also putting together packs to accompany a daily schedule, ensuring you have all the content and details in one place. No faffing around on Google, everything will be delivered right to your inbox. See below for more information. Find out more here.
Why can a daily routine be a lifesaver?
Children are used to following routines. Outlining what each day will look like can help immensely to keep everything ticking over.
Routine allows us to build in the important things, e.g. rest, relaxation and fun.
Routines allow us to cultivate some positive habits to benefit our whole family.
It ensures that we don’t spend too much time on just one activity.
The predictability of routine offers comfort in an unpredictable world.
What to include in a routine?
Mindfulness is a great start to the day, use apps like Headspace or have a look on YouTube
Maths and English to keep learning going. Schools should provide some links and worksheets.
Engaging topics to research and explore, which can easily be made simpler for younger ones and extended for older ones.
Brain and rhythm breaks are great to keep kids going.
Exercise is must and you can search for indoor ideas too if it's raining.
Arts and crafts are always great ways to occupy children and allow them to explore their creativity.
You can get far with basic supplies and a printer:
Colouring pencils / Felt tips
Glue stick and scissors
Laptop / iPad
Printer and paper
As a parent and a teacher, here are my top 10 tips and tricks:
Rotate your child’s toys, divide them into three baskets and bring them out one-at-a-time.
Focus on “open-ended toys”. This allows for longer and more imaginative play with limited adult involvement. Toys with lights and batteries usually don’t catch their imagination to the same extent.
Write or draw out a routine with your child. This can be something they can follow and tick off themselves to give you some much-needed breathing space.
When setting up the routine, allow your child some choices. Explain the priorities and negotiate the preferred activities.
Plan for the more difficult ‘learning’ sessions earlier in the day.
Divide the day into 15 to 30-minute slots, focusing on different activities. This allows for children’s attention to be kept. You don’t need a new activity every 15 minutes. Look at the example routine above.
Keep activities mixed to prevent boredom. Have a variety of writing, moving, reading, drawing and rhythm etc.
Schedule screen time but have it later in the day. This way, it will be predictable and avoid power struggles. Use it as a powerful contingency plan, such as when you need to join a conference call.
Set up a corner or an area to do 'schoolwork' with everything ready and set up.
Schedule activities that need more of your attention when you can give it. Give children downtime when you need to focus.
The most important thing to remember
A plan is a great guideline, but it’s not set in stone. You can take time away from it. Having a plan means you can always come back to it later that day or even the next day. Having a plan means you can be flexible. We are living in uncharted territory, so it is important to also be kind to ourselves and look after our own mental wellbeing.