As millions of children are displaced from their schools due to the coronavirus, a sub-crisis has risen for American parents: What will the kids do all day? At Anderson Behel in Santa Clara, CA we can see that widespread school closures have sent a ripple effect into parent communities as many scramble to find ways to smoothly transition kids into at-home life. It’s one thing to entertain them all day on the weekends. It’s another when you have seven days a week to fill for an indefinite period of time.
So, here are some suggestions about fun and productive things to do during the stay in place directive.
The secret is one that schools know well: Make a routine. Kids are used to following a schedule, so making a blueprint for the day will help everything fall into place. It’s a lot easier than you might think. Grab a pen, paper and actually map out how the days will look at home. The goal is to keep kids busy and learning while allowing you to get other things done too.
Here’s how to set a routine for your child:
Start with their school routine
Use school as the framework and honor what had been your child’s routine:
When are they used to having breakfast? Snack? Lunch?
When is recess?
Break the day into small chunks much like school does with subjects.
If your child has assigned schoolwork, do they work best in the morning or afternoon?
Dedicate time for play: Once you’ve mapped out times for things like food and school assignments, you’re ready to fill in the rest of the day, and actually carving out time for dedicated child-led play is huge for kids. When a child is imagining, creating, building or inventing, they are doing some serious learning.
In your new daily schedule, have a few 15- to 30-minute blocks (more or less time depending on your child’s age and play development) of dedicated child-led play. The more a child plays, the more they learn to play.
A few tips for effective playtime: Weed out the unused and broken toys: If it’s hard to find the good toys, it’s hard to find the good play.
Move the “open-ended toys” to the front: Toys with lights and batteries that sing and talk won’t hook your child into play as well as simple toys (think toys from your childhood – blocks, cars, dolls, kitchens…).
Limit adult involvement: Play is the child’s job, not the adults. Accept some play invitations, but don’t feel guilty about skipping others. Kids need to play independent of adults (independent doesn’t mean unsupervised).
Schedule in some easy indoor activities: While you can just put out toys for unstructured free play, kids also get excited when parents facilitate some of the fun. Think of activities as “invitations to play.” Easy indoor activities can be a lifeline, a great way to practice school skills and a way to quietly entertain kids. These activities do not need to be complicated or take hours to set up. As you plan your schedule, think of places where an activity might be helpful to transition from one-time block to the next, like after snack time or before dinner.
Here are four easy indoor activities perfect for breaking up a day:
Box Road – Flatten out a box and draw a road in marker. Add blocks, trucks and other toys for kids to build a city.
Toy-Washing Bin – Let your kids wash their plastic toys. Add tear-free bubbles, sponges, towels and other supplies.
Trash Art – Find some recycled materials and let your kids paint them. Kids love painting random objects and making beautiful creations from them.
Sticky Match-Up – Draw shapes, letters, numbers, words or math problems on sticky notes and hide them around the house for your child to find. Then have the child match them up on a “key” that hangs on the wall.
Good luck—stay healthy and we will see you soon.
About Anderson Behel
With today’s sophisticated cars, it’s more important than ever that your body shop is certified to repair your type of vehicle. At Anderson Behel, Silicon Valley’s leading collision repair company, we’re proud to hold several certifications, which means we’re a Honda Certified Body Shop, Acura Authorized Body Shop, Nissan Authorized Body Shop, Subaru Auto Body Shop a Porsche Collision Center and most recently a Volvo certified shop. What does this mean? At Anderson Behel, we’ve invested in the finest training, equipment and tools to do an O.E. repair on each and every Honda, Porsche, Acura, Volvo, Nissan and Subaru that comes into our shop. Why not work with a body shop that is qualified, experienced and certified by the carmaker itself to work on your car? It just makes good sense and that’s why we proudly tell the world that we’re certified on some of the world's finest vehicles.