In Part 1, we talked about how to reduce stress in the whole family. Stress and anxiety are to be expected in our extraordinary situation right now.
There were a couple of key points made in Part 1. One was that it’s not the time to be a perfect parent. Don’t expect yourself to be in top parenting form. Do the best you can for both you and your child(ren). In other words, ease up!
The second thing is that all the suggestions I made are not to be simply imposed on your child. A parent commented that they could try scheduling times to check on virus updates but their child would keep checking anyway. Whatever you want to work on has to be done as a family. You need to sit down with your child(ren) and explain what the issue is – “Checking all the time on the virus can make all of us a little nervous.” Then ask for their thoughts on how to deal with it – “What can we do to help ourselves?” Don’t just tell them what to do. Help them understand the problem and then ask for their help in dealing with it. Make suggestions and then, as a group, decide what to do. It doesn’t matter what you decide. The goal is to set a rule that’s agreed on by everyone. As a group, decide how often you’ll check on things. Try to make it a group activity so you check in together. Then you can be available to help calm any worries.
Today’s topic is: Get organized
Recognize your child’s difficulty with planning and organizing.
Help them plan out their days so there’s some predictability. Make a list of things your child enjoys. Include some they can do on their own as well as some where they need adult input. Indoor activities can include homework as well as crafts, coloring, enjoying their collections, board/card games, computer/video games, drawing, reading, or watching videos. Outdoor activities are generally limited to what can be done on a balcony or in the garden/yard. That means you can still set up obstacle courses, bowling, or scavenger hunts.
Show your child the activities available for that day (you decide) and let them select what they do and when. Make a visual plan like the examples.
The first example (to the left)is for older children. There’s some emphasis on homework but it’s slipped between physical activities and those your child enjoys a lot.
Always use written words on your schedules. Add pictures if your child isn’t a strong reader. Visual schedules make it easier to remember. There’ll be fewer disagreements about what happens next. If it’d be helpful, put time limits for each activity. That way, they won’t over-focus on just one thing. Schedules can be hand-drawn or you can find pictures on the internet. It just takes minutes and will make life simpler and calmer for everyone.
When you make up the schedule with your child, include times to focus and times to ease up. Think of it as breathing in (focusing) and breathing out (relaxing). Follow a relaxing activity with one that takes more thinking and concentration. Follow relaxing and favorite activities with ones that require more problem solving. Read more about rhythm in schedules here.
To the right is an example for younger children and those who don’t have homework to do.
Add activities that’ll prompt your child to help around the house. They can help make lunch, sort laundry, sweep the floor, exercise the dog or cat, load/unload the dishwasher.
Another important area for planning is keeping contact with friends and family. With children out of school, they lose contact with other children they usually see everyday. Don’t forget grandparents and extended family members. Use video calling if possible (Skype, FaceTime, Messenger, for example). That way they can see the other person. Set your child up for success. Help them figure out before the call what they want to tell the other person. If your child is preverbal or low verbal, help them show what they’re doing that day. If they tend to freeze when online, make a short video beforehand so they can show it during their call. Help your child anticipate some of the questions that’ll be asked. Make up lists of these questions (“What did you do today?”) and comments (“Boy, that looks difficult/delicious.”). Then put together some responses with your child. Typical small talk topics include weather, sports, movies, family, school, and food. Practice asking and answering questions about these topics. It’ll make it so much easier.
Get your child to organize and plan activities with you every day. Plan a variety of things so they don’t get stuck on just one or two. The more you organize life, the more engaged your child will be. And the less likely they’ll be to become stressed.
There are lots of resources on the internet that will give you ideas for
activities. I’ve listed some below.
Also, check out Canadian Child Magazine and AuKids Magazine for more ideas. Explore the possibilities at Little Puddins and DLTK-Kids. Search on the internet for kids’ activities during school closure for more ideas.
Rhymes and songs for preschoolers and early elementary-age (Primary through Year 2) children
Mama Lisa’s World International Music and Culture Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes – action songs, hand-clapping, marching
Kiddles Kids’ Action Songs
Elementary School Music Early Childhood Songs and Rhymes
Fingerplays, Action Poems, Nursery Rhymes, and Songs
Action Songs: Children’s Music that Calls for Movement, Participation and Dance
Action, Participation, Movement Songs for Kids
Crafts and activities
Crafts involving cartoon and animé characters
Recipes with step-by-step pictures
Lego with step-by-step pictures (have to enter keyword describing the object or the number of the set)
Fun paper airplanes