OH WHAT fun I would have had with my children during this year of virtual learning. When my children were growing up, they didn’t have electronic devices to occupy their time. Instead, they made tree houses and a race car track for miniature cars using plywood and a double-decker bed. My children still look back on their childhood and remind me that many fun-filled, learning activities don’t require a computer or any other electronic advice. In this time of online learning, it’s important to create activities that don’t require electronic devices.
Here are some of my suggestions:
1. Family reading time – Set aside a reading period for 20 minutes to half an hour every day. Reading to children helps to develop their concentration and their listening skills. It also develops comprehension and analytical skills. Children process what they hear read to them at a higher level (as much as one to two years) than their reading level.
2. Board games – Good, old-fashioned board games like Monopoly help children develop co-operation skills and maths skills. A game like Monopoly teaches children to think about budgeting.
3. Research projects – Research skills can help children develop their personal interests. With supervised YouTube visits, children can learn how to make paper airplanes or paper dolls, but research doesn’t always require a computer. Interviewing grandparents and parents about their lives teaches children research skills that can be used in creative writing. Children can run experiments like growing plants and charting how much water and sunlight those plants need to thrive.
4. Puzzles – Putting puzzles together creates a feeling of flow, which means maximising concentration to the extent that you become lost in the activity. Puzzles demand a strategy, and the act of putting puzzles together helps to develop patience and build concentration skills. Make sure children choose a puzzle with a picture that appeals to them. Choose puzzles with enough pieces to be challenging, but not enough to feel overwhelming.
5. Cooking – Finding a recipe online can be a good research project, but children can also find cooking projects in cookbooks that might be around the house. Parents can make cooking a fun, learning activity and an invaluable maths lesson by cutting a recipe in half or doubling a recipe. Cooking requires planning and can teach children how to prepare for a given task like settling for homework. Children can also interview parents, grandparents or friends’ parents for recipes they can collect for their own family cookbook.
6. Crafts – Crafts are a fun way to elevate mood and help children feel a sense of accomplishment. Following instructions helps students to develop discipline and establish a process for tackling activities. An activity like origami can develop motor skills. Drawing is a good way to access feelings that are difficult to identify and express. Children don’t need paint for art. Pencil drawings can be just as much fun.
7. Journaling – Journaling is a good habit to develop early in life. Devoting a certain time to journaling every day helps to develop a routine, which can build concentration skills and confidence. Feelings come pouring out in journals. They are a long-term project that can keep track of how feelings change over time.
8. Reading research – Help your children to discover new books that suit their growing needs and interests. Online research helps, but children should also speak to friends and family about what they are reading. We often find out about good books just by talking to other people. Then the challenge will be to talk to bookstores when they open about ordering books your children want to read.
9. Listening to audio books – A subscription to a site like audible.com can provide audio books that hone children’s listening skills. Children can have fun discovering what type of narrators they like the best by listening to samples of books on the website. Children who struggle with reading can listen to books above their reading level and learn about structure and the elements of a story while developing their listening skills.
10. Activity resources – There are interesting sites online that will suggest activities from learning a new language to creating your own picnic area at home. Famous authors offer readathons. National Geographic offers activities. Some websites offer many interesting activities for children. Check out this website: https://blog.chocchildrens.org/activity-ideas-for-kids-during-covid-19/
We are living in tough times, but this can be a fulfilling, productive and creative time for children to learn and have fun. All it takes is a little imagination.