ORGANISE YOUR DAY
Without the structure of a school day and the engagement of their peers, children’s motivation and energy can soon take a dive. Create a timetable that’ll work for both you and your child, covering their subjects and your own workload. Divide up periods of work and study with breaks. Make sure that you and your child keep active: go outside (if government advice permits), eat meals at the appropriate times and have offline conversations, too. Finally, set a time when the work day/school day officially ends and family time can resume as normal. You can find an array of different, free and printable timetable templates here. Also, it's important to stay connected with the school system, as well as setting, and working within, the usual reward system. We love the platform Class Dojo, which not only keeps communities together, but comes with a range of different virtual tools to keep learning fun and interactive.
Spending more time at home means it's more important than ever to keep moving and stay healthy and positive. So, starting Monday 23rd March, The Body Coach – Joe Wicks – will host a free workout aimed at kids live on his YouTube channel. Fun and suitable for all ages, even adults can get involved in the online workouts. You don't need any equipment, just tune in at 9am each morning for the 30-minute session. For those looking for something a little more soothing, the first two weeks of Cosmic Kid Yoga - the leading children's yoga app - is free. From instructional videos to soothing meditations, it's a great time to introduce kids to the calming benefits of the practice.
Worried that the same collection of books at home will eventually run their course? Or concerned that younger children should be developing and practising their reading skills with more challenging material? In response to recent events, World Book Online has made its collection of over 3,000 e-books and audiobooks available for free for children to access at home. With books suitable for all ages, some versions are ‘read aloud’ so children can have stories read to them, too. Speaking of which, Audible has also made its range of children's books free to listen to, as well.
IMPROVE WRITING SKILLS
For children aged 3-11, it’s a crucial time to develop reading, writing and arithmetic skills. If writing is your main concern, turn to online resources to help kids practice away from the classroom. Sites like OxfordOwl divide free exercises per age group, while their accompanying handwriting books are available to buy on Amazon. For older children looking to use writing as an outlet, suggest they start keeping a diary during their time at home.
RUN THE NUMBERS
If you feel you’ve got reading and writing sorted, numbers might be something still in need of some practice. Thankfully, online resources have come a long way and any number of apps now exist to help younger children develop their skills. The 10 Minutes A Day app allows children to practice their times tables through exciting car races: the faster you solve the questions the quicker your car will cross across the finish line. There’s also a fun ‘beat the clock test’ where players can show off their maths skills by racing across the line before the time runs out. If you don’t get the answer right away you’ve got a chance to keep trying for the right one, and if you don’t make it you’ll get handy hints and tips to help you next time.
Whether it’s board games or something a little more physical, differentiate playtime by introducing something fun. Try setting up an in-house scavenger hunt by placing a selection of clues around the home that lead to a prize. Rather than just keeping children occupied, childcare experts claim this teaches and refines skills such as problem solving and aids physical mobility, too. If you’re lucky enough to have access to outdoor space, build an obstacle course using available equipment. This will also help them to develop their fine and gross motor skills, while also building spatial awareness. We love the Go Find It Kits, which are available here.
In the next few weeks or even months, chances are we’ll all be eating more home cooked food. With that in mind, now might be the time to teach younger children how to make some basic meals: think scrambled eggs, flapjacks or homemade pizza. To treat it more like a lesson than chaotic fun, try reading through these helpful tips to add some extra structure to the session. Not only a time to get children into the kitchen to learn essential cooking skills, treat mealtimes as an opportunity to practice positive social habits and good communication – that means no phones, television or other distractions.
It might be time for kids to take on a little extra responsibility around the house to keep things running smoothly. For younger children, education experts suggest taking the ‘small task, big contribution’ approach. That means as part of a larger chore usually done by an adult – think preparing a meal or emptying the dishwasher – kids can take on a small, helpful role, like holding a measuring cup or drying a dish or two. Need to take the bins out? Ask them to tie the bag and put it ready to go out. It’ll give kids a sense that they’re making a real contribution and that the family is working together during a difficult time.
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