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April 2nd, 2020 at 11:00 am

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At home with nothing to do? We’ve put together this guide for activities to keep you busy. At home with kids to entertain? Keep on reading.

For many of us, we are beginning to adjust to our new reality of spending as much time at home as possible. For anyone with children, that has added challenges.

To help you cope with stir-crazy kids, we’ve put together ideas for parenting in close quarters!

Keep a daily routine

Just because kids don’t have to answer to alarm clocks or school bells right now, it’s important for your whole family to stick to a daily routine. Help your kids find some normalcy in an otherwise abnormal time by enforcing regular wake-up times, meal breaks, and bedtimes. Keep up their regular chores and daily tasks, like taking out the trash and helping to cook or set the table.

Enforce a daily schedule

Consider creating a schedule and sharing it with your kids, allowing them to keep track of the time and activities on their own if they’re old enough. Include daily activities such as recess, lunch time, arts and crafts, “gym class,” and even nap time if they need it.

Let your kids make their own decisions

Encourage kids to help plan out their days by listening to their ideas and coming up with a productive weekly plan so that they feel like they have an active role in their daily agendas. Plus, they should still be held accountable for the tasks they set out to complete. Try to give them choices as to what they could do one day versus the next, so they don’t feel trapped or overwhelmed.

When it comes to dealing with teenagers, some friction is to be expected. They may be acting “cool” in front of you but, in addition to their education, their social lives have really been disrupted. They may react differently than your younger ones. Listen to their needs and work together to find alternatives to make sure they are still able to connect with their peers.

Screen time equals social time

Although you may try to restrict screen time at home normally, keep in mind that is pretty much the only way to stay connected with classmates and friends. That connection extremely important for everyone right now.

Below are some ideas to get you started on educational and entertaining activities. Don’t forget to ask your kids what activities they would like to do each day, too!

Encourage active minds and bodies

Encourage creativity with daily activities that get the mind and/or body moving, such as:

Use nature to educate and entertain

Together, come up with a list of ideas like the ones above and let your kids select one creative activity for each day. If you have a garden, turn it into a fun learning experience. Break out some magnifying glasses, start your own seed garden, track butterfly growth from beginning to end, the possibilities are endless! If you don’t have a garden, planting seeds in jars or egg cartons can provide entertainment and education.

Pair movement with creativity

If your family isn’t artistically inclined, even playing a game of Pictionary or Charades can get you on your feet and encourage creativity.

Virtual zoo, museum, and park tours

Lots of places that charge for ticket entry are now offering tours or live streaming online! Some of our favorites include:

Encourage your children to take notes during their tours and write down their top five favorite things they learned or to draw their own version of what they saw.

Book club

Create your own book club at home by having everyone in the family read the same book. Take turns reading out loud or meet once a day to discuss the current chapter. Let your little ones choose the book, determine the reading schedule, and lead the “meetings.”

Plus, most books are available to download on your smart phone or Kindle, or you can listen to audio books together when completing chores, doing a creative activity, while cooking, or just sitting outside and enjoying fresh air.

Movie marathons

Pick one day or night for a movie marathon each week. Grab the popcorn, candies, and turn down the lights. You might even want to bring down a blow-up mattress and blankets to build a movie fort or just get cozy. Let each kid pick their favorite movie or introduce them to a movie that was your favorite when you were their age. Keep in mind that your kids (and you!) can’t be learning, creating, and working all day every day, so it’s okay to relax and have some movie time.

Free online learning courses

Scholastic is offering free online courses for young students now that schools are closed across the country. The company’s digital learning center is fully accessible on all devices and requires no sign-up to get started. Three hours of learning per day with up to four weeks of instruction is included.

Users will be asked to choose a starting grade level, separated into pre-K and kindergarten, first and second, third through fifth grade, and sixth grade and above. The courses include English language arts; STEM; science; social studies; and social-emotional learning. The program is designed to be readily available at home and requires no printing for assignments. Pretty sweet deal if you ask us!

Indoor games

Board games such as memory games, Scrabble, or card games are not only be fun, but can help teach children some valuable lessons and skills, without them even realizing. Challenge them to complete puzzles, starting off with easier ones and advancing to more complicated ones, to keep them stimulated when boredom strikes. This teaches perseverance and problem solving skills that are especially useful in times like these.

Exercise daily during “gym class”

Make sure every day has at least 30 minutes dedicated to physical activity and yes, that includes parents, too. In addition to the health benefits, it will help wear out your little ones so they are not so full of energy when they’re stuck inside and finishing classwork. Go outside and get some fresh air, while maintaining social distance, and walk the dog, ride bikes, jump rope, or do anything you can from the comfort of your yard, and neighborhood

You can also do workout classes at home, such as yoga or aerobics. Lead the “class” yourself, do a kid-friendly workout video, or let your little ones take the lead.

Listen to music

We know your kids have headphones, but it can be fun and stress-relieving to turn up the volume every now and then. Take a few music breaks throughout the day, one in the morning to pump everyone up and another later in the afternoon to fight that mid-day slump. You can even select a “DJ” who gets to control the songs or take requests. While you’re jammin’ out, do things like small chores and tasks, relax outside, or start a dance party!

Did you know playing stimulating music while drawing or even solving math problems can be a game-changer? Put on some Bossanova or Beethoven to help everyone concentrate.

Make cool art

With the help of the internet, making art has never been so easy! If you find yourself needing to distract your kids while you work or complete a time-consuming task, Google and YouTube offer some great drawing tutorials for beginners that require little to no tools. Your kids can follow a step-by-step tutorial that will keep their minds, hands, and bodies occupied while you fit in whatever task (or nap) you need to finish.

If you’d prefer to keep your kids offline, there are all sorts of activity books that can challenge their imagination and build some great story-telling skills. You can easily print out some blank coloring pages of their favorite characters or challenge them with a theme of the day and ask them to make their own coloring book pages or write and illustrate their own story.

Stay on track

At the end of the day, there should still be rules for everyone in the home to follow. We suggest you keep your daily routines as normal as possible, including their discipline, chores, and hygiene practices. Remember that this is just as frustrating for your kids as it is for you, and new challenges will arise each day.

If they’re attending school via virtual lessons, they have to develop new learning habits and adjust to the new virtual assignments, which could take time. Practice patience and acknowledge their feelings to help ease tension and anxiety. After all, everyone is adjusting to this new reality together, so some speed bumps are expected.

Looking for more activities to keep you busy at home? Here you go. 

Sources: KCRA, Scholastic, USA Today 

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