18 May 2022

Plenty of ways to keep children busy during time at home

Parents, teachers and pupils across are currently facing school closures and the impact they could have on their day-to-day lives

Plenty of ways to keep children busy during time at home

Long periods of time in the house are perfect for burying yourself in a good book

Parents, teachers and pupils across are currently facing school closures and the impact they could have on their day-to-day lives.
Schools are closed to all but the children of what the government has termed ‘key workers’ and parents are coming to terms with the challenge of ad-hoc home-schooling.
The prospect of a lengthy period off school may thrill pupils and terrify parents in equal measure, but this is by no means an extended summer break.
Here are some strategies you can use to help you and your child make it through what could be a tricky period for family relations.

Create structure to the day
Many children (and adults!) thrive on the routine that their school day provides. Try to replicate this at home by setting out a timetable for study.
Twitter user @andyharley83 has compiled a collection of graphics that can be used to create a home timetable to keep children aware of how their day will develop.
This is particularly useful for children with special educational needs who may find the change in routine a little overwhelming.

Read, read, read!
Long periods of time in the house are perfect for burying yourself in a good book. Now is a perfect time to escapism and what better way for a child to find it?
Local libraries have all shut their doors, but parents have a chance to sign up and download eBooks and audiobooks to keep their children reading.
Oliver Jeffers, author of favourites like The Day the Crayons Quit and How to Catch a Star, is hosting a live reading every evening at 6pm on his Instagram page @oliverjeffers.
This is a great chance for children to experience familiar books brought to life by the author who created them.
Leading audiobook company Audible have also released a collection of stories available for children to stream online via this link: /start-listen.

Keep responding to reading
A large part of the guided reading curriculum in school involves responding to what they are reading.
While some readers may remember copious comprehension questions from their time at school, there are a number of activities that can be used to help with this.
St Peter’s and St Paul’s, Foreglen principal Michael O’Kane has posted 34 guided reading activities that can be downloaded via PDF, PowerPoint or Keynote via his Twitter account.

Mathletics –
Some of you may already be familiar with Mathletics as it is used in a number of schools. If not – get involved!
Students can design their own avatar and compete against each other in a variety of challenges, activities and games.
If your child is using the programme through school, they will have a log-in of their own, or you can sign up as a Home User on their website for a 48-hour free trial.
There are plenty more free maths activities online – Topmarks, Maths Zone and Math Playground are just three examples. Google is your friend.

Lego challenges
An age-old favourite, Lego has been entertaining children and adults since its inception in 1932.
Many schools operate after-school Lego clubs and it has remained a staple favourite for Golden Time on Friday afternoons across the sector.
Blogger Christina Shirley has shared a resource on her website that lists 30 days’ worth of Lego challenges for parents and children to get through.
Of course, once the 30 days are up and you’ve got the hang of it, you can have a go at setting your child challenges yourself!

Learn a language
I have banged the bilingualism drum for many years and now that the unexpected closures have left you with some time, now is the perfect time to learn a language.
Duolingo has over 30 languages available on their online service and is an interactive way to pick up a language.
While more suited to older users, this activity could be done together by parents and children, and the app is available to download on most devices.

Get active
Being stuck at home all day can tempt many children into sedentary habits, but one of the most effective ways to ensure concentration is to get moving.
Many schools operate brain breaks between lessons as well as the usual break and lunch play time and have found it increases pupil engagement and achievement.
There are plenty of online videos that guide children through short bursts of exercise that are ideal for slotting into children’s timetables for a quick workout.
The Body Coach TV is just one example and has a series of 8 workouts for children to help them stay alert and engaged.
Keep an eye on your local GAA club too, as most have set challenges for their young players!

Virtual museum tours
In the modern age, many museums can be accessed remotely via the internet.
Website Southern Living has compiled a list of 12 famous museums that you can tour from the comfort of your own home.

Write about it
Given a purpose and an audience, children love to write. With all that time going spare, encourage them to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and create.
If they are recording a diary of their time in lockdown, encourage them not only to focus on what is happening around them, but how they feel about it.
Unprecedented situations can force creativity to the surface as a coping mechanism. We are happy to take submissions from children, young and old here at the Derry News.
Scan their work, take a photo, or email it to us via and you could find yourself looking proudly at your work in the following week’s paper!

Finally…forget all the above!
As much as we try and maintain as normal a routine as possible, these are not normal times, and worrying about your child falling behind in school is not the priority.
Make use of the school packs, ideas and resources as much as you can but remember – this is not worth having a row about. Tension is already too high.
Many parents are working from home while trying to balance childcare and the fuses may be running quite short, but children are in a vulnerable place.
They have varied understanding of the situation. Some will be oblivious, some will sense the worried atmosphere and others may be concerned for the safety of elderly relatives.
Get them out and about – social distancing permitting – and use the time to let them experience the world around them. Go to the beach. Walk in the forest. Laugh.
Eventually the world will return to normal and children will tell anyone who will listen in years to come that they lived through the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
They won’t remember immaculate timetables, multiplication revision or even the interactive learning they’ll do online – they’ll remember how they felt and what we did about it.

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