With the most recent Government updates about the closure of schools, the prospect of having the children home for the foreseeable future due to the Coronavirus can feel worrying enough, without also trying to work out how to keep the children entertained and still learning.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips, websites and resources* which we hope will give you some guidance at this tricky time.
You may also find joining our online communities helpful for advice, experience and support. We are currently exploring a series of opportunities using video chats for parents to chat and share any ideas/advice on keeping children entertained at home. If you’d like to get involved or have any other ideas or suggestions, please do email the Childrenandfamilies@thebraintumourcharity.org or request to join The Brain Tumour Charity Parents group.
Top tips for children in isolation:
- Try not to put too much pressure on yourself and what you think you should be doing with your kids. Give plenty of opportunities for fun, relaxing and enjoyable activities. Remember it might feel a bit unpredictable and worrying for your child, so make sure you factor in that all-important time to burn off any excess energy or to relax and recharge. From baking their favourite sweet treats or taking part in the LEGO Challenge to wacky science experiments in the garden or exploring 12 famous museums by a virtual tour, the opportunities are endless.
- Check in with yourself and your children. It may feel quite overwhelming being stuck in your home together. Be open and honest with each other and aware of the potential impacts of siblings spending so much time together. It might help to have a read of our looking after your wellbeing and looking after your child’s wellbeing blog.
- If you feel this will help, try to create a predictable structure for your children. It may be that you can set up particular daily or weekly activities and mix these up after a week or so. You could write these up together and pin them up somewhere in your home as a reminder for everyone. Please do remember though, it’s ok if these structures don’t always work and don’t be hard on yourself if they don’t!
- If you’re keen to try and limit screen time, try playing board games, card games or maybe try something more physical. Think creatively - hide and seek, a scavenger hunt, making up a dance routine, musical statues and circuit training are all great ways to use up your children’s energy!
- Find ways to differentiate between week days and weekends to avoid all the days blurring into one. It might be that you save particular activities for weekends.
- Be aware of your environment. If you’re going to be spending more time inside or doing more arts and crafts activities, you may want to clear some extra space – this could mean moving around furniture, or even taking it into your garden, to avoid any mess!
- Get fresh air as and when you can. Even if this is just opening the windows or back door in your house, going for a walk or spending some time in your garden.
- Stay connected and make things more fun by including family or friends as and when you can – use Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp to catch up and show off any activities you’ve been doing! You may want to think about asking your child to get the contact details of all their friends (Roblox, Xbox, mobile phones, emails) so they can stay in touch and play games with them.
If you have any tips, advice or you would like to share your experience of coping with coronavirus by filming a short video (under 2Gb), we’d love to hear from you. You can simply upload your video to wetransfer.com and send directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Penelope Hart-Spencer, who is a Health Play Specialist shares her advice on spending time at home with your kids:
“I have recommended that families aren’t rigid about ‘home schooling’ their children and try to make the best of this unusual time, by spending time together playing games, reading and crafting. I think the educational side of things is less important when things are so unsettled. I have advised lots of my friends to focus on their child’s emotional wellbeing and keep talking to them about their thought and feeling about it all. It seems that lots of children are very scared after hearing the news.
I think when this is all over – the children will remember what they did with their families during this time and how well supported they felt.
I have been recommending that parents seek help and support with mental health charities and organisations if they are struggling emotionally themselves. This is very important! There are links to support on the .gov website which might be useful” Follow Penelope Hart-Spencer on Twitter
Educational resources to help kids at home:
- Cbeebies radio - lots of stories, activities and games for preschool children.
- Phonicsplay – interactive phonics games, currently free due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation.
- Oxford Owl for home – a free eBook library for 3-11 year olds, alongside advice and support for parents and free interactive games and activities for reading comprehension.
- BrainPOP – free access to a range of school subjects and related resources.
- Scholastic – free website with learn-from-home resource, with over twenty days of learning and activities.
- Scholastic Kids’ clubs –lots of free downloads and worksheets for many well-known children’s books.
- The e-Bug project (led by Public Health England) - learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene. Resources are currently available for Key Stage (KS) 1, KS2 and KS3.
- BBC bitesize: Free videos, step-by-step guides, activities, printable materials and quizzes by level and subject for 3 to 11 years old.
- National Geographic Kids - this has some services you need to pay for but there’s free content too.
- Twinkl – access to free resources and interactive activities from early years to KS4, including those with Special Educational Needs (SEN).
Craft ideas for kids:
- The artful parent - free art activities.
- RedTedArt – easy crafts for children.
- Busy Toddler – simple activities using things you’re likely to already have in the home.
You may also want to explore Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for an extensive range of child-friendly activities and channels, ranging from PE lessons with Joe Wicks, arts and crafts or the more sensory and/or scientific experiments.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but is hopefully a good starting point to support you and your family during self-isolation.
Do remember both Live Chat and support line (0808 800 0004) is available between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday – Friday. You can also email us at: email@example.com.
*Please note, as many of these resources have been kindly shared by individuals in our community and haven’t been vetted by The Charity, we can’t necessarily recommend them.