This is an unprecedented time, and many of us are anxious.
What should the stay-home days be like for young kids? This is a very valid question.
We are not talking about being stuck at home on a rainy day. Here, we are talking about weeks… 2 weeks, 3 weeks, or maybe even longer. That is a LONG time.
But let’s also not forget that it can be a scary and anxious time for our little ones as well, having to deal with the sudden disruption to their normal daily life. It is therefore important to help them feel safe and ensure that we are not “passing” our anxiety to them.
For older kids, schools may have made arrangements for remote learning. But for younger preschool kids, parents will probably have to take things into their own hands.
I’m not a home-schooling expert and with so much online information about home-schooling, that can be a boom or bane. It does feel like an information overload at times.
In such trying times, let’s cut ourselves some slack. I wouldn’t be too concerned about the curriculum at this moment. I think we can slowly sort this out.
Toddlers strive on routines
I think the first and foremost thing is to plan out a daily schedule so that the kids (and ourselves) have a better sense of control and predictability.
Focus on the experience we are giving them, and how to as much as possibly replace the interactions and structure they typically have in preschool.
It’s always easier to start things on a right foot, than to try to correct things later. Hence the first few days are crucial for setting up the daily routines, without increasing screen-time in the midst of confusion.
A schedule is not about stressing over the precise clockwork but a predictable sequence of activities.
To help the toddlers and preschoolers, you can create a picture schedule and hang it on the wall at their height.
Structure the day in terms of time blocks of activities
Activity blocks include fixed and un-negotiable activities such as bath time, meals, nap and sleep time. Having laid out these activities in the schedule also helps with reducing the power struggles with the toddlers during the transitions.
Other activity blocks could include the following:
This would include:
- Math lessons – learning about numbers and counting
- Language lessons – learning about ABCs, reading and writing/tracing
- Building thematic vocabulary by learning about things around them, such as colors and body parts
- Science activities
- Sing and Dance
- Arts and Crafts
- Fine Motor Skills
Here’s some home schooling resources for pre schoolers:
Personally, I wouldn’t be too concerned or worried about whether the kids are lagging behind their curriculum. The idea is to get them as close as possible to their preschool schedule and continue to stimulate their interest and mind.
It’s not healthy to have the kids seated for hours, so do incorporate breaks for snacks and play between the learning blocks.
You don’t have to plan for everything to keep your kids occupied all the time. In fact it is good to leave them some time for unstructured activities and free play.
Free play is crucial for young kids in their communication, motor, cognitive, social and emotional development.
Let them take the lead in choosing what they want to play or do. This is the time for them to explore their imagination. All we have to do is to provide them with the space, time and resources. Simply respond and play along with them or leave them to play amongst themselves (if you have multiple kids).
Free play activities include:
- Drawing, coloring and painting – you can expose the kids to different mediums, such as color pencils and paints (washable ones please).
- Lego – Choose an age-appropriate lego size/set. Duplo sets are great for young toddlers so you don’t have to worry about choking risks. I like that they have thematic sets (such as construction toy set) as well as just plain classic building blocks to allow kids to explore freely.
- Wooden blocks
- Toy cars
- Sensory Plays
- Playing make-believe and dress-ups
- Playsets such as kitchen or grocery stores allow them to role-play real-life scenario. This can help them learn about interactions with others, as well as become more aware of their own feelings and society around them.
Has your toddler has dropped off nap time? Do you know that quiet time is actually very beneficial for toddlers?
If you have not introduced quiet time to your toddlers, it’s a great time to get started. Quiet time is a time for the kids to play independently and quietly by themselves.
P.S. there are lots of ideas about quiet time activities on pinterest!
In today’s fast paced world, kids are constantly being stimulated and bombarded by so much information and new things. Giving toddlers the chance to be on their own to engage in quiet activities (or even just doing nothing is good) as it allows them to consolidate their thoughts and feelings. Over time, you will realise that they become calmer and meltdowns or crankiness are reduced. Working on things independently also help them to focus and develop their confidence.
Just as importantly, it gives moms like you and me a break!
In fact, to maintain everyone’s sanity, we should all have some scheduled quiet time (for both parents and kids). You and your kids can be resting, listening to music using a headphone, reading, meditating or even COLORING. Yes, coloring is just not a kid’s thing.
In fact, I have to admit I’m late in the game of adult coloring. I’ve only recently discovered just how therapeutic, stress-relieving and calming coloring can me. Check it out if you haven’t tried it for yourself! To enjoy it more, pamper yourself with a good HUGE set of color pencils, or even watercolor if your prefer!
If possible, try taking turns with your spouse to look after the little ones so that everyone has their own quiet me time. Having the whole family confined in a limited space for such an extended period of time will naturally lead to tensions and stress. Not just between you and your kids, but even between spouses as everyone tries juggling working from home.
You don’t have to feel guilty about such feelings. It happens to everyone. It is therefore important that we create a space and time for everyone to have some quiet me-time. If you find yourself losing patience or tensions rising, take a deep breath and take a step back (possibly to another room).
Young kids are highly energetic. With the cancellations of their favourite outdoor sport activities, we need to find new avenues for them to expend their high energy levels.
Try out indoor workout routine and yoga exercise that parents and kids can do together! All you need is a yoga mat and some help from some of the online videos.
You can even make it into a game:
Not only is it great for bonding, it’s a good way to get the adults moving too!
Having the experience of working from home, I know how easy it is to remain seated for hours, which REALLY is unhealthy.
Bringing Outdoor Activities Into Your Home
Explore your creativity and bring outdoor activities into your home!
Here are some ideas that I have:
Zoo – Turn your home into a zoo visit
Some possible ideas include:
- Using animal soft toys
- Creating some animal crafts and role-playing the various animals
- Lining up the walls of the rooms and walkways with paper and filling them up with drawings of animals. Don’t worry if you are not a natural artist. Here’s a really cool and easy step-by-step drawing book of up to 101 animals!
Indoor Camping and Campfire
Build an indoor tent to spend a night in and enjoy a campfire using plush toys! Doesn’t it look cute?
Enjoy nature from the comforts of your home
Do you know that you can enjoy nature even if you are at home?
With a window bird feeder, the kids can enjoy incredible close-up views of birds without binoculars or heading out.
Reading to my young children is one of my favourite activities. I tend to do it during bedtime. But now that the kids are spending the entire day at home, you might want to add another storytelling session in the day, just as they would in school.
If you need some help with story-telling, you can check out the Amazon audiobooks for children
Most offices have turned to video conferencing to stay connected while working from home. Why not extend this to the kids?
I’m sure the kids will miss their friends from schools. You can try to connect them using apps such as facetime.
You can even arrange with other parents to take turns to ‘host’ the playdates or even take turns to organise a storytelling session.
Encourage the kids to journal their stay-home experience, which can be in the form of writing or drawing. This allows them to consolidate their experience and express their feelings. Especially if they are experiencing any anxiety or fear,
As the family is together, this is a great time to engage in family activities and bond together. Trying out new recipes and cooking together can be a lot of messy fun!
You can even take videos of the process and share with your friends. Or even make it a competition!
Just be sure to take note of the safety precautions. A kitchen helper step stool would be really helpful for the tots.
Free Virtual Tours
Many museums, national parks, farms, theme parks and zoos have made virtual tours possible. And the list is growing:
- Yellowstone National Park
- Van Gogh Museum
- The Louvre
- Canadian Food Farm Tour
- Houston Zoo Live WebCams
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
Make the Best out of the Time at Home
In this unprecedented times where many things are beyond our control, let’s focus on things that we can control! And that’s to make the best out of the time we have at home with the family, with a positive attitude.
For moms who are juggling working from home and taking care of the kids, remember that it’s ok to cut yourself some slack.
It’s ok not to have everything in perfect order. It’s fine to have a kid screaming in the background while you are having a call with your colleague. It doesn’t have to be a perfect silence.
Kids learn and develop through PLAY. So let’s chill, and make the best out of the stay-home experience to spend some quality time with our family!
Take care and stay healthy.