Keeping kids occupied during a lockdown

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Health Assured team

02 April 2020

We’re all keeping safe and staying at home during this lockdown. Other than key workers, everyone should be staying put. But this means cooping your kids up all day, every day, potentially for a long time. And not all kids are going to respond positively to this. 

If you’re currently at home with children to keep occupied, you’ll know all too well how difficult it can be. We’ve put together a few ways to make it a little bit easier—on your kids, and on yourself. 

Organise the days 

Sure, organised fun is rarely as good as spontaneous fun, but right now routine and discipline will be sorely lacking in kids used to spending their days at school.  

Any task is made more difficult by having to herd kids around while doing it—and the best way to make it a little easier is breaking it down into sections, deciding what to do with each of those sections, and sticking to that plan. The days ahead, with your kids at home, are no different. 

Break each day down into a few discrete chunks. Morning, afternoon, evening—these are the most basic, but you can drill down to half-hour chunks if you like. The granularity is up to you, but don’t go overboard micromanaging your children’s time! 

Decide what you want to do with each of these chunks. Breakfast, a walk outside, lunch, working on projects and hobbies, video calling friends—these are just a few suggestions. 

Keep learning 

It’s vital that you don’t let your kids slow down on their education. Remember, this isn’t time off—it’s an extraordinary circumstance. 

If your schools are sending tasks via email or publishing on the school website, make sure your kids are doing them to completion. Help out if necessary, but emphasise their own problem-solving abilities and resources.  

There are a ton of great resources online that can keep kids’ attention and teach them something at the same time: 

  • Scholastic home learning packs are designed to complement SATs and GCSEs, and are closely matched to the National Curriculum. They’re usually paid resources, but as the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak is an extraordinary circumstance, a range of these are free to take from their website 
  • Twinkl—another provider of resources from EYFS to GCSE—have also made some resource packs free. In fact, there are 630,000 available right now! You’ll need to sign up with an email address for a free account on their site, but once that’s done, you’ll have a huge library available 
  • Quizlet specialise in AI-assisted learning, which identifies areas where a student might be having difficulties—it works like a real tutor. And it isn’t just school subjects—it can cover cooking, coding, even woodwork 

Games! 

Not just video games—though honestly, we fully expect Xboxes across the nation to be feeling the strain right now—but board games and role-playing games are perfect, right now. They encourage you all to spend quality time together exercising your own minds.  

And it’s possible to make this social beyond your own household. Getting your kids’ friends together via a video app like Skype to play is a great idea, and apps like Roll20 provide an incredible resource for people playing table top games remotely. 

Video 

Ordinarily, you want to limit screen time as much as possible. But as we keep saying, these are extraordinary times. For your own mental health, it can be good to find a kid’s movie on the TV or a streaming service, and enjoy an hour or so to yourself. No-one is going to judge you—it’s not easy to meet the demands of a child 24/7. Take the time you need to unwind for yourself. 

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