By Christy Sparling, Occupational Therapist
With the sudden cancellation of school and activities, we are forced to pause, and learn how to navigate this uncertain time. During this time it is even more important to remember the importance of play. Play is a way for children to process their emotions. Through play, kids learn to cope with their emotions as they act out fear, frustration, anger and aggression in a situation they control. It’s also a chance for them to practice empathy and understanding.
For more information about the benefits of play and play ideas for your child, click on the links below.
Age-Specific Ideas for Playful Learning
Stay at Home Play at Home – 30 days of activities
How Children Learn through Play
HELPING YOUR CHILD FEEL SAFE AND SECURE
During this time it is also more important than ever we help the children in our lives feel secure and safe. According to Dr. Stanley Greenspan there are four major components to helping a child feel more secure.
- Spend time together as a family.
- Express your feelings. It’s important to help children express theirs and make sure we listen and help them expand on what they are sharing. It’s also important for them to hear parents express their feelings in a manner that their children can process.
- Reassurance. Once we’ve listened to a child, and tried to fully hear them out, then we should reassure them. Reassuring someone without listening to them first is not as effective.
- Contributing to and helping others. When children are able to help others or feel like they’re helping others, it makes them feel more in control of the world around them. They are no longer helpless and receiving help, but instead, they’re giving it to others. It helps them develop confidence, and it makes them feel proactive.
For more information on helping our child feel safe and secure click here.
NAVIGATING HOME SCHOOLING DURING COVID-19
For parents feeling the pressure to fill their child’s day with academics, STOP!
Instead of filling your child’s day with academics, do activities that instill curiosity in the world, empathy for others and the desire to do things they love. As an adult, what are the most important skills that have helped you during this difficult time? I think many would say that the following are more important than the academics we learned in school.
- having the ability to express our emotions and feel secure
- the curiosity to explore and learn about new things
- having hobbies and doing things we love to bring joy to our lives
“As you adjust to this sudden lifestyle change, the last thing you need to do is set big-picture educational goals, or choose a comprehensive curriculum, which most homeschoolers would have months to consider and a full school year to execute.”, Jayme Merzgar, a homeschooling Mom.
Instead, she recommends a few simple ideas to help you and your kids make the most of your weeks at home together.
- Don’t think you have to fill your day with academics – When instruction is individualized and interstitial classroom time eliminated, it’s very easy to give your child all the book learning they need before lunch time. Embrace the freedom of sleeping in and having more time for learning through play.
- Make the world your classroom – integrate learning with life, look for educational opportunities in everyday outings and experiences. Try to spark your children’s imagination and curiosity so the subject comes alive, and learning becomes a lifestyle. Take the opportunity to explore the many free library events and museum exhibits that are online.
- Read, Read, Read – read aloud with your children every day, even if they are older
- Use the time to teach life skills – go beyond household management, draw on your hobbies and work skills and teach sewing, carpentry, art, or computing. If you have a skill that serves you in life that your child is able to learn, now is a great time to teach it. One of our most important life skills, is planning a daily routine. Let your child be a part of the process. Let your children come up with ideas of things they would like to do and learn throughout the day. It is important to remember that each child is different. Some might thrive on busy schedules. Others will not. Allowing your children to help plan their days, will not only help build this important life skill but will make the day more motivating and give them a sense of control, which are important during these challenging times.
- Channel your inner 80’s parent- remember the things you used to do to amuse yourself during the long, pre-internet summer days. Send your kids outside to play. Show them how to make daisy chains, let them dig in the mud, and let them toss a ball around. Let them get bored. It’s good for them!
To read more from Jayme Merzgar: click here
TAKE A DEEP BREATH
During this hard time, it is important to embrace the mindset that everyone is doing their best. At a time when stress is abundant, before reacting, pause and search for the why of another’s behaviour. During this challenging time we all need to be a little less judgemental and more empathetic.
And when you lose patience with your child, remember every behaviour is a form of communication. Take a deep breath and listen to what they are trying to tell you without words.
And for those with a plethora of empty toilet paper rolls, here are 79 Toilet Paper Roll Crafts to fill your days.