by Sheyna Rose
Many of us are now home with children who would otherwise be in school. This may feel distracting and overwhelming at times for those of us working from home. We would like to offer some tips that may help during this unique parenting experience. Most importantly, we want to give you resources that can help you build rapport, encourage learning through play and strengthen the bonds with our children.
Learning alongside academia
If academic learning is difficult for your child while at home, here are some other ways they can learn valuable life skills. Use this time to explore things that interest them. This could be an extraordinary opportunity. It’s ok to worry less about academics — feel free to teach them what you wish you had learned at that age. Sparking a kid’s interest in something new is valuable and exciting.
- Community. Children can begin to help with chores, sing songs together and practice taking turns. Also consider telling them stories about your family history and sharing family recipes.
- Leadership. Encourage them to practice negotiating and working towards completing a project with others. This can be taught through play or can be taught incidentally throughout the day.
- Development. Between the ages of 6-13 what we learn to make and do with our hands and whole body stays with us our entire lives. Reflect on what you loved doing at this age, (e.g. tying knots, cat’s cradle, building forts, playing baseball, climbing trees, etc.) and introduce these activities to your children.
- Play. Encourage imaginative play without screens. When we have time to be bored our minds have time to be creative. What materials do you have at home that you can make a game out of (e.g. an improv game passing a paper towel tube. How many things can you imagine this paper towel tube can be? “I’m a unicorn,” “It’s a telescope,” etc.)
When to offer “screen ime”
It’s important to mention that watching a movie or playing a video game with your children can be valuable bonding time together. However, when you need to work or you need some time to yourself, offering them a screen or device can be very effective. Just be mindful that offering screen time too often can lead to feeling bored, sad and frustrated; even when they are continually asking for their screens.
Fatima Zaidi M.S., Board Certified Behavioral Analyst. says, “To keep screen time effective, it’s important to only allow access during your important work time or to help motivate your kids to help you around the house. Balance screen time with other leisure activities. Some children may not know how to interact with certain toys or leisure activities. It’s important to show them how to play new games…learn to use things in an imaginative or unusual but fun way, or to show them the fun things you did when you were young. Chances are they may enjoy them too, and you can enjoy them together.”
If taking away screen time all together is difficult try these helpful tips:
- For young children in particular (or kids of any age) adjust the audio settings on Netflix and set it to another language. Now when they watch TV they are learning words in a second language!
- For a reading fluency challenge, turn off the volume and turn on closed captioning. Now they are reading! This also works great when your child is learning words and phrases in a new language, just change the closed captioning to the language they are learning in school.
Leisure and Building Rapport
Let your children show you how they have fun. Try not to instruct and don’t ask hard questions. Leisure is about letting your child have their own preferences in the activities and items they are engaged with. When we understand these preferences we can help guide and expand their curiosity.
Make a Daily Schedule
Grab a sheet of paper and make a daily schedule. Kids should be allowed to access it throughout the day. It can include things like screen time, play time and other fun things they are looking forward to. Setting a schedule helps give kids agency and control. It can even lower anxiety and can build executive functioning (memory skills, self control, etc). We all know how satisfying it is to cross things off your list of to-do’s. Side note for parents, it often takes pressure off of you from always needing to explain what is happening next.
Channel your Inner Mary Poppins
The game of the week: Mama’s Closet (ages 4-10)
Rules: Go into Mama’s (or Dad’s) closet and find something to dress up in. Then come out as a character and give that character an emotion. It can be funny, serious, silly, etc.
Special thanks and gratitude to the following people for their contribution and expertise:
Fatima Zaidi M.S., Board Certified Behavioral Analyst, Master Trainer/Consultant at QBS, inc.
Steven Santos, Founder and Director of a Youth Program, and Former Preschool and Afterschool Teacher.
Paula Rasanen, (MFT student) After school and Summer Learning Director, Human Development B.A., Child Development A.S.