When you can’t leave the house, it’s important to look after your wellbeing. It might seem overwhelming, but if you have a list of varied activities for your children to try, the days will fly by. “Encourage children to learn new skills, things to do, not just to know,” says Public Health Practitioner Claire Cheminade. “There are so many things we can do at home that are fun and good for us,” she adds.
We asked Claire to help us compile a list of activities that put your child’s mental health first.
1. Connect with other people
Claire says, “This is really challenging in the current circumstances as we are ‘social distancing’ and need to physically stay away from people. However, we are in an age of digital connectedness and we can use the internet and phone to keep in touch with each other. We can even invite family and friends to socialise via video apps, including FaceTime or Whatsapp.”
Write a list of the people to make contact with every day/every few days.
- Ask them how they are
- Share what you have been learning
- Write them letters, or a poem
- Draw them pictures
- Send them photos
This is a good opportunity for children to practice their handwriting as well as their keyboard skills.
Play board games
Learn a new card or board game or get better at one you already play (for example, chess). You can do this at home or there are apps/online games you can play with friends and family.
Travel the World
We may not be able to leave the house, but we can find out about people in other countries and visit the world from home.
Chose a new country to visit, virtually, every day. Learn the things that are special about the new places you go to….
- What animals live there?
- What is special about the place and its people?
- What do they eat?
- Which continent is it?
- Identify its location on a map
- What is its climate like?
- What other interesting facts did you learn?
Look in an atlas, online, or start with these clips from Where in the World? On CBeebies.
My World Kitchen teaches children about food from different parts of the world.
2. Be physically active
Claire says, “Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness it’s good for feeling mentally well too.”
Try these indoor active games to get everyone’s step count up.
This workout for you gets kids involved, too!
You can do a yoga workout on YouTube at home, learn a new yoga pose each day, or master a more challenging pose depending on your yoga skills!
Show your child how to copy this simple yoga.
Watch YouTube and learn a new dance.
3. Take notice (mindfulness)
Claire says, “There is so much to pay attention to all around us, all the time. Even in a city I can enjoy singing blackbirds and starlings, magnolia trees in full bloom and even winter bumblebees. So, look up or out of the window and take notice of all the beautiful and wonderful things everywhere.”
Learn about British trees – learn about a new one every day.
Claire says, “Okay, I am a massive bird-nerd. There is nothing I like more than to spot or hear one I recognise or to learn a new one I don’t know. They all have such different characters. I invite you to join me.”
It’s easy to make a bird feeder to hang outside your window. Then, watch, listen & identify!
Take some time each day to watch the sky in the day and at night.
When you look at the sky in the day, watch the clouds. Can you spot different patterns? Draw a picture of the clouds or imagine that you can see pictures in the different shapes.
Learn about the moon and its different phases. Make some time to have a look for it each night. Maybe draw a picture of what you see.
See if you can spot stars you recognise and give them names. Older children can try to spot different constellations.
Claire says, “Mindfulness for me is about having some quiet time with myself, to just sit for a while and see what is going on. You can explain it to children by saying it’s a bit like looking outside in the morning to see what the weather is doing. You see what the weather pattern is like inside you. This helps you to know what you need that day. So, if it’s raining outside, you know you need an umbrella. If you’re feeling stormy inside, you ask yourself what you need – maybe that’s to be on your own for a bit, or to ask for a hug or to do some exercise.
4. Keep learning
Children may not be at school, but they can still learn the topics they would have been covering in the classroom. And they can learn new skills that will help them in everyday life.
Maths and Phonics
These specially-created Numberblocks Maths and Alphablocks Phonics programmes support the way children learn at school. Each pack contains 6 weeks of activities that will help you teach your child maths or phonics. They guide you through each topic in a fun and educational way!
Cooking is fun and enjoyable, as well as being a relaxing activity to enjoy together. And don’t forget it uses maths, communication and science skills.
Or challenge yourself with a new, delicious recipe.
Check you are getting a good balance from food and drinks with the Eatwell Guide.
Like cooking, getting into the garden is a great way to chill out. Being outside, we can connect to nature, hang out with birds and spot new bugs and plants.
Set up a veggie patch or a little garden or grow some plants inside on a windowsill. Plant some seeds, watch them grow, check on them every day. Write notes or take a picture to keep track of how things are doing.
Turn your kitchen into a lab to see science in action! These are the easiest ever experiments we’ve ever tested!
Learn another language
Find a website or app to help you learn your (new) language. Little children can sing along with The Lingo Show on CBeebies and learn some French words. [https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/watch/lingo-show-jargonaise1]
Read, read, read! Or listen to a story
Learn a poem by heart every day….
5. Give to others. …
Claire says, “This is a tricky one with social distancing, but we can still give people our time without being physically close to them. Check on people and make sure they are okay. We can also give people some of the things we create – our cooking and the vegetables we have grown.”
For more information on Mindfulness, Claire wrote this eLearning session
Follow Claire on Twitter.