During the Coronavirus outbreak we want to help our readers as much as we can, and while that might sound frivolous, these are strange and unsettling times for us all, so any help we can offer, we will.
It’s a tough time for parents, many of whom are having to work from home, and on top of that schools have now all closed. We know it’s no mean feat to keep children entertained at home for Christmas, let alone an indefinite amount of time.
With schools closed, yesterday saw the BBC announce the biggest educational offering yet, providing a space for children and teenagers to learn at home. Starting on Monday 11th January, CBBC will boast a three-hour programming aimed at primary schoolers, while BBC Two will provide a space for secondary school students with support for their GCSE upcoming exams.
But for now, if you’re struggling with keeping the little one’s entertained at home, we’ve turned to London’s Little Thinkers, the trusted online community that aims to promote an engaging childhood for little ones, through fun, educational and engaging ideas. It was set up by Rebecca Dooley, a London-based qualified Primary School Teacher and now Headmistress of a nursery school – in short, she knows how to keep children entertained and how to do it in the most positive and educational way possible.
Here, Rebecca shares her tips on keeping the little ones in your life entertained during this unusual time. We know it’s tough, but you’ve got this.
Firstly, remember the basic top tips…
- Hand washing is going to be your Little Thinker’s best friend. Remind your child to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice or make up your own hand washing song which lasts for 20 seconds. Remember to moisturise their hands regularly. Tom Fletcher has shared a fantastic idea on Instagram which shows children why using soap and water is so important – see here.
2. Remind your Little Thinker to ‘catch their cough or sneeze’ into a tissue and throw it away. If they don’t have a tissue then catch into their elbow. Always wash hands afterwards.
3. Set an example: Your child will be looking up to you throughout this coronavirus chaos. Try to remain calm, honest, reassuring and show them how you maintain the utmost personal hygiene. Do not become panicky but make it fun – e.g. putting magic soap (hand sanitiser), sing songs when washing hands etc.
4. Explain clearly and monitor what they see on TV and newspapers to avoid them seeing alarmist information. Be honest, be accurate but also age appropriate. Talk about feelings and reassure your child if they are feeling anxious. For older children show them visual information which clearly highlights the truth and focus on how we can help ourselves to stay safe.
5. Keep routines and life as normal as you can, where possible and safe to do so. If they seem to have noticed a change then explain to them why some routines have been adapted e.g. not shaking hands at nursery or school.
6. Encourage children not to touch their face or if you see them picking their nose explain why this is not hygienic (for little ones say ‘there is no treasure up there’) and buy them some fun tissues to use instead.
Gross Motor Skills:
Apart from the common ways to develop children’s gross motor skills e.g. climbing a tree, going to the park, riding bikes etc, here are a few indoor ideas for up your sleeve.
- Throwing bean bags e.g. up the stairs and see how far they can throw it for example 1 step, 5 steps.
- Make an obstacle course that encourages your child to jump (e.g. like a kangaroo), crawl (e.g. like a badger), hop (like a rabbit).
- Hopscotch (encourage your child to spot the different numbers).
- Watch Joe Wicks AKA The Body Coach give his daily, live P.E. classes for children of all ages on his YouTube channel. More information can be found here.
Fine Motor Skills:
During school or nursery children are continuously developing their fine motor skills and dexterity so here are a few of our favourite ‘at home’ ways to continue this.
- Cook with your child: the kneading, rolling, pinching, stirring etc will all help to develop stronger fine motor skills. Remember to wear gloves or wash hands thoroughly.
- Buy sewing kits.
- Make play dough or slime – see recipe here.
- Use pipettes to make potions!
- Buy Lego kits and work with your child to build the item.
- Football/practise catching/kicking/throwing a ball.
- Cosmic Yoga online.
- Egg and spoon races and indoor balloon tennis.
- Cover a wall with backing paper and allow your child to draw big drawings on it by reaching up high and squatting down low.
- As playdates and playgrounds are out of the question, many children are drawing or painting pictures of rainbows and putting them up in their windows. Join in the fun and see if you can spot the window rainbows on your next family walk – it’s like a neighbourhood-wide game of eye spy.
- Lingumi (for aged 2-5) Sets of learning & speech recognition games and video-based games to help with a child’s grammar and getting them speaking their first words early on.
- Kaligo (For children aged 3-5): The first digital handwriting exercise book using a stylus and tablet, built using AI and co-created with teachers, occupational therapists and neuroscientists
- NHS Change 4Life Activities
- CBBC – Numeracy & Little Learners
- StoryLine Online
- Zumba Kids Routine
- Teach your monster how to read – here.
- Alpha Blocks & Number Blocks – here.
- Twinkl are offering parents 1 month free – use the code PARENTSTWINKLHELPS
- KIWI – Imaginative exploration subscription
- WHIRLI – Toy subscription
- WILLOW & WILD – Nature subscription
And don’t forget to spend quality time reading, talking and promoting independence every day. Most importantly, allow your Little Thinker to play and use their imagination.
For more information, inspiration and ideas from London’s Little Thinkers, visit londonslittlethinkers.co.uk