Parents are likely feeling overwhelmed right now, as they are trying to help their children navigate the many changes that have accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as managing their own stress and responsibilities. Further, I have to imagine that they feel an enormous amount of pressure to provide educational and meaningful activities for their children while they’re not in school.
We all know how incredibly important play is to kids – especially in times of crisis – but their activities don’t need to be elaborate or Pinterest worthy! Sometimes simple is best.
As a child life specialist, I recommend trying some of the following activities at home to help keep your kids engaged and busy. Give them choices whenever possible. So much of what’s going on right now is out of their control – giving them a little bit of that control back can help them feel safe.
A dance party is a great way to start off the day! Have them choose their own music and dance along. Further, YouTube is a great resource for kid-friendly workouts, including ones from our HealthWorks! program. Kid Yoga is also great and helps teach kids about paying attention to their bodies and how they’re feeling.
Allow your kids to play with balloons in the house. Help them blow them up and then let them play games like faux tennis with kitchen utensils, or hot lava where it can’t touch the ground.
They’ll have to step outside to pick out a rock, but then they can bring it inside for painting. They could paint fun animal faces or patterns.
Allow your kids to build a fort for a special hangout. They can read a book in there or watch a movie.
Make cards for family and friends
This is a great way to stay connected while physically apart from the people we love.
It’s an oldie but goodie and tends to keep kids busy and engaged for a good amount of time. Maybe even do it in your front yard and write messages to your neighbors!
Nature scavenger hunts
During a walk or hike, have children spy various items of certain descriptions. For example, ask them to find two things that are soft. Or have them pick their favorite tree to draw a picture of it when they get home.
Have a tea party or picnic outside
It’s amazing what some sunshine and fresh air can do!
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES WITH THE NEIGHBORS:
It’s not easy to keep kids in their own yards and away from their friends. But it is still possible to have fun with them! Here are a few activity ideas kids can do with their neighbors while staying in their own backyards and respecting social distancing:
Let the kids take their dance party outside and dance with their friends – from an appropriate distance, of course.
Children can act out various words, phrases, or animals and have their neighbor friends guess what they’re acting out.
Hula hoop contest
See which family can hula hoop the longest!
Start a neighborhood window walk
In my neighborhood, kids are picking a new theme every couple of days and posting these drawings in their front windows for other families to view during their walks. We’ve done themes such as flowers and animals.
Play is truly therapeutic for children. By engaging in fun activities, they may find some stress relief, as well as normalcy and familiarity, during these uncertain times.