By now, a lot of parents will have been given the directive to start working from home as soon as possible, to reduce the spread of COVID-19. With schools also now closed for most students, many people may be wondering how to juggle working from home with being a full-time parent.
It is important to remember that children are likely to need a period of time to adjust and things may not fall into place immediately. They will be hearing and seeing the changes and are likely to be feeling just as anxious as us. It is OK not to perfectly replicate the classroom environment - this is an unrealistic expectation and puts pressure on you and the child.
Hopefully, your employer is understanding enough to realise that having kids around whilst working from home isn’t business as usual, and that you may require some leniency, but we’ve compiled a list of useful tips, activities and advice to make this balancing act a little less daunting.
Keep a structure
CPR.org has compiled some great tips for parenting during Coronavirus. Chief amongst them: decide upon and introduce a daily structure, and try and stick to it. This can include time for yourself to breathe, time for them to talk about their emotions, to create or play games, to watch tv or to do homework, and to go to bed. Children still having structure, rules and timeframes for their days can make their adjustment to this strange time a bit easier. Additionally, it makes it easier for you to structure your work day. For younger children, factoring in naps is a great way to get some quiet time.
A lot of children will have been sent home with work from school. Additionally, some schools are taking advantage of being online and are keeping in touch with catch-ups with their classmates, teachers and online work. While your kids may want to treat this time off as a holiday, school-assigned work is a worthwhile way for them to spend their time - for both the benefit of parent and child!
What if they run out of work? Or refuse to do it? That may be an anxious reaction, and it’s fine to not push it and come back to it later. If you are fortunate enough to have a flexible workload, there are some fantastic alternative educational resources available to engage their brains listed below.
For the times that can’t be spent directly with your children, try not to feel guilty - a necessary part of your working from home strategy may have to include finding ways to engage your children on their own. If this is causing anxiety or worry for your family, you can also read our guide on how to talk to your child about coronavirus for further tips about reassurance, answering their questions as well as managing your own anxiety.
Remember that for all these resources, if you have older children, they can either use these resources independently or they may be able to help supervise the younger ones.
Scholastic Resource Bank
Our Wesail Wakefield service have started keeping a list of useful resources for parents with children currently at home. The’ve linked us through to the free home learning packs that Scholastic Resource Bank have put out. Covering Early Years, KS1, Lower KS2 and Upper KS2, these resources help parents and teachers prepare for all eventualities. Download your free resource packs below:
The US Scholastic website has also created a free learn-from-home site with 20+ days of learning and activities.
Certain Youtube channels can be both educational and entertaining for your child, with many focussing on learning, discovery and the world around them. Below are some popular channels shared by parents - the below were sourced from a family blog sharing educational channels their children enjoy, however it is important that you always research any content yourself to establish if it’s appropriate for your family:
- Crash Course Kids
- Science Channel
- SciShow Kids
- National Geographic Kids
- Free School
- Geography Focus
- Kids Learning Tube
- Geeek Gurl Diaries
- Mike Likes Science
- Science Max
Across Nickelodeon screens, as well as online, there are original short-form and useful content aimed at getting children engaged, active and informed about hygiene while staying home.
As well as the traditional ways for kids to pass the time, here are some alternative ideas for occupying their free time.
These can be tailored for different ages, but might work better for younger children. A Busy Bag is just a collection of arts and crafts supplies that a child can easily pull out and start creating with. Paper, pencils, glue or paint along with craft items like icepop sticks or pipe cleaners, googly eyes and stickers, even magazines for older children to cut up and use as collages can be great and relatively cheap material for Busy Bags.
Barnardo's Big Bake
Did you know that as well as imagination and creativity, you need Maths skills when it comes to baking? For example, you may need to divide 1kg of cake mixture into 10 equal portions or even add up all of the yummy ingredients about to go into mixing bowl!
Download our Big Bake fundraising pack items below and find out how each cake can bake a massive difference. Barnardo’s ambassador and keen baker Fay Ripley also provides some delicious cakespiration with a Chuck-it-all-in Chocolate Tray Bake recipe.
Even if they groan at how old you are for still playing board games, kids can get very involved in anything competitive once they’ve finished complaining about it! If you have puzzles or board games stashed away in the cupboard, now is a great time to dig them out.
Barnardo's Eggciting Activity
If your little ones are stuck indoors over the Easter holiday, we have an Egg-citing activity to help your children have a cracking time.
Egg-citing will give your child the chance to decorate an egg before having to look after it for a whole week. We also have lots of egg-stra worksheets to make sure everyone is having fantastic fun!
- Eggciting Challenge ages 4-7 – A lesson plan template for children aged between 4 and 7-years-old.
- Eggciting Challenge 7-11 – A lesson plan template for children aged between 7 and 11-years-old
- Look After Your Egg – Fill in this worksheet at the start of the week with the cracking plans that you’ve got coming up.
- How to Boil An Egg – A step-by-step guide for boiling an egg. Don’t forget that you should always ask an adult to help.
- Egg Emotion – Cut out and decorate the egg shape. Pens, pencils, paint, glitter – the choice is yours!
- Can you design something to carry your egg? – If you put an egg straight into your book bag, it might crack and create a big mess. This fun activity sheet allows you to design something that will help you keep your egg safe for seven days.
- Egg Passport – Help complete your Egg Passport with all of the d-egg-stinations you will be visiting.
- My Egghead – This worksheet will help you record the tasks that you will be doing for your egg each day.
- Egg-stra Special people – This worksheet teaches children about the special people in our local community who look after us and keep us safe.
Online play dates/video chatting with family
If there is a spare phone or laptop in the house, setting up online playdates for your children with their friends or grandparents/family members can be a great way to keep their spirits up and reduce anxiety. Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts - the list of free video chatting services are extensive. Organise with the parent of your child’s friends ahead of time so there’s something to look forward to.
Keeping a diary about their time off school
Your child can keep a record of everything that’s happening - it’s a good way for them to both talk about their own feelings and get their creative brains working. What do they like about the time at home? What do they wish was different? How do they feel that day?
Wind in the Willows is currently broadcasting their stage musical for free - all you need to do is sign up.
Joe Wicks has just announced he will be hosting PE classes for the nation each day, catering for primary school children right up to secondary school.
Audiobooks and Podcasts
Not just for adults, audiobooks of their favourite stories as well as podcasts specifically made for children can be great ways for them to engage with something that isn’t screen time. Below are some recommendation lists - but as always, content should be checked by the responsible adult first:
- Time Out’s 24 Best Podcasts for Kids
- Huffington Post UKs 16 of the Best Podcasts for Kids
- BBC Family Friendly Podcasts to Enjoy
Please help us reach more children who urgently need our help now more than ever, during these uncertain times. Donate today.