Parents in self-isolation are racking their brains to find new and exciting ways to keep their kids happy at home.
Following the Government’s closure of schools in the UK last week, the majority of pupils have been sent home (barring vulnerable children, and children of key workers).
And whilst most schools have set homework for the children to do, many parents are feeling daunted by the prospect of home-schooling. And with all the extra time they are spending indoors, parents are wondering how to stop their kids from getting overly bored.
If you feel this way, you’re not alone. So we’ve done some research into the various online resources out there to help you get through this. And we’ve come up with lots of boredom busters to keep your kids happy.
We also find out how to create a daily routine for children, to give them a sense of stability during this uncertain time.
We understand that the health of our families is the most important thing to everyone, especially during the COVI-19 outbreak. So it is essential that we all follow the health advice set out by the Government, which is constantly changing. Our article is correct at the time of writing, but to get the most up to date information, it is best to check the Government and NHS websites regularly.
1. Online educational tools
There are many online learning tools out there to boost your children’s education whilst they are out of the classroom, such as:
- Twinkl has an entire section on home learning, and it posts new ideas for parents on a daily basis. It even provides a timetable of different activities to help you structure your day. The activities are tailored to different age groups, up to 11 years old.
- Oxford Owl is a useful resource for parents who want to help their children (aged 3-11 years) improve their reading and writing skills. It covers topics like how to teach the times table or how to spell, for example.
- BBC Bitesize is a learning tool aimed at children at Key Stage 1 through to GCSE level. It covers a range of subjects from Art and Design to Mathematics.
- Scratch is an online coding website for kids aged 8+ years to help them create and share their creations, for free.
- Google Arts & Culture is for older kids and adults alike. You can use this website to go on virtual tours of museums, art galleries and explore famous monuments around the world, from your living room.
- Rosetta Stone is offering three month's worth of online language courses for free to students. Including Spain, Italian, German and French for example.
2. 'PE class' in the garden
It’s important to try and incorporate some exercise into your children’s day, every day, at any age. If it’s safe to do so, let them burn off some energy in the garden. They could kick around a football or play badminton out the back, for example.
3. Indoor exercise
YouTube has plenty of options available when it comes to exercise videos. For example, personal trainer, Joe Wicks, has recently launched ‘PE with Joe’ to inspire kids to exercise at home. He’s going to stream fitness videos live on YouTube every day, Monday to Friday at 9am for 30 minutes. It’s free to join in and you don’t need any equipment. So you could make it a regular family activity, to start the day off on the right foot.
For something a bit calmer, there’s Cosmic Kids Yoga aimed at kids aged three years old and over. There are different videos to choose from, with a range of themes, from Frozen to Harry Potter. So there should be something to suit everyone.
4. Let them help you around the house
Depending on their age, think about getting your kids involved in small practical jobs around the house, like washing the car or feeding a pet. Getting the kids to do the housework kills two birds with one stone. It stops them from getting bored and helps you out at the same time.
To encourage them to get on board with the idea, you could make it a team effort, or put music on whilst they do it. You could even turn it into a competition with their siblings and reward them afterwards with a treat or their favourite game or story.
5. Encourage green fingers
If you have a garden, they could pot plants, herbs or collect flowers. The BBC has a range of ideas to encourage their green fingers, from planting a tree to making a daisy chain.
6. Keep in contact with their friends
With children being kept off school and in isolation, they will soon start to miss their friends. But with today’s technology, they can stay connected via portals like Zoom and Skype. Just make sure they use this under supervision so you know who they are talking to.
7. Board games
Now could be a good time to unite the family around a good old-fashioned board game, like snakes and ladders, Cluedo or Scrabble. Younger kids might enjoy shape-sorters or jigsaw puzzles to keep them occupied.
8. Take up the 30-day Lego Challenge
Are your kids into Lego? If so, how about they take up the 30-day Lego Challenge? It provides 30 ready-made ideas to get kids started, from building a rollercoaster to the world’s tallest tower. Find the print out here.
9. Home-made science experiments
Science experiments are the perfect way to mix education and fun. CBeebies show you how to do everything from making slime to fizzy lava lamps. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just bits you have lying around the house.
10. Painting and drawing
For kids who love to get their hands dirty, you can’t go wrong with a bit of painting and drawing. Just make sure you put a lot of newspaper down first to protect your furniture!
There are plenty of online resources to help your kids get into crafting. The Creative Bug, for example, includes jewellery, papercraft and sewing projects for children aged fives years and older to get stuck into.
12. Baking and cooking
Other things kids can do around the house include cooking and baking. There are so many resources online with easy recipes to follow, like fairy cakes, chocolate cookies and more. Not only will the kids enjoy making them, but you’ll get pleasure out of eating them too.
13. Have a picnic in the garden
If the weather is nice, think about setting up a picnic in the garden. It would be a nice way to break up the day and get some fresh air at the same time. They could bring their teddies along too.
14. Build a den
Building a den is a cheap and easy way to keep the kids entertained. All you need is one or two sheets thrown over the sofa or dining table to create their perfect hideaway.
15. Movie night
Compile a list of your children’s favourite films and chuck in a few new ones for good measure. If you have it in, don’t forget popcorn (or other snacks) for the finishing touch. Maybe consider signing up to children’s TV networks like Disney Plus, if this is affordable. You can get a seven-day free trial of Disney Plus at the moment, then it's £5.99 a month, or £59.99 a year.
Spark off their imagination with some story-telling. Audible has short stories for kids aged between two and five years to keep them occupied, or help them to drift off the sleep. You can get a free trial for 30 days, after that it costs £7.99 per month.
17. Write a story
Does your child have a wild imagination of their own? They could express their creativity by writing a story. This is a fun and educational way to pass the time. Or you could engage them by taking it in turns to write a line of a story each and see where it takes you.
Alternatively, they could write letters to relatives who may be feeling isolated at the moment, to brighten up their day a bit.
18. Learn a musical instrument
With all this spare time on their hands, it could be a good opportunity to get kids into playing musical instruments. There are many online tutorials on YouTube, like this one which shows you how to play Baby Shark on the xylophone. Or follow blogs like Let’s Play Music which show you the basics. Fender are giving away three month's worth of guitar lessons which normally cost £10 a month, so it could be worth looking into.
19. Hold a talent show
If your kids love to dress up, why not hold a fashion show. They could dress as their favourite pop idols and turn it into a talent show, with some choreography thrown in. Or they could put on a play for you, by acting out their favourite books or TV programmes.
20. Create a treasure hunt
Surprise them with a treasure hunt and see their faces light up. With today’s current limitations in place, it would have to be held in the house or the garden. But it can still be just as fun. You can create a theme, such as an Easter egg hunt for example. Then hide Easter eggs and create clues for the kids to go searching for them.
How do I create a daily routine?
Preparation is key. The first thing to do is to create a schedule for the week ahead by listing all of your children’s favourite activities. Make sure you ask them what they would like to include so they feel involved. This will help to set a routine for all the family, and it should reduce the likelihood of boredom and tantrums!
To make the transition from school to home-learning easier, consider working your kids’ day around their current school timetable. So for example, on Mondays to Fridays, they could get up, get dressed and have breakfast at the usual time. Followed by a set mid-morning break and lunchtime, with some physical activity included. This will bring some structure into their day.
Another suggestion could be to focus on work such as reading, writing and maths in the morning - or activities like jigsaws and shape-sorters for younger children. Then move on to the fun pre-planned activities after lunch. This will give them something to look forward to.
And remember to make some time for yourself. Depending on how old your children are, think about mixing up their schedule to include one or two activities that don’t need supervision. This should free up some spare time for you to relax or catch up on jobs around the house.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.