Are you wondering how to look after your child’s wellbeing (as well as your own) as we enter this gloomiest of lockdowns? You’re not alone. Searches for children’s wellness ideas have rocketed in January, with many parents wondering how to keep children smiling through another period of isolation. So, we asked Public Health Practitioner Claire Cheminade to help us create a list of fun ideas that put children’s mental health first. These tips are based on the NHS 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing. “Encourage children to learn new skills, things to do, not just to know,” Claire advises. “There are so many things we can do at home that are fun and good for us. Just take it one day at a time,” she adds.
1. Connect with others
You can make the most of the Internet and phone and keep in touch with each other via Zoom or FaceTime. And don’t forget the joy of sending and receiving a handwritten letter.
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
Play board games
Now’s the perfect time to learn a new board game or to get better at one you already play, like chess. You can do this at home or there are apps and online games that you can play with friends and family.
Travel the World
Armchair travel is perfect for January – it’s when we dream of white sands the most, right? And children can find out about people in other countries without leaving the house.
Help them to choose 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?
- Look at and draw the flag
- 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. Keep moving
Being active isn’t just for physical health and fitness, it’s great for your mental health, too.
Try these indoor active games to get everyone’s step count up.
Or, this workout for you gets kids involved, too!
And, of course, it is possible to venture outdoors on a rainy day. Just put on wellies and tell everyone it’s fun to get wet (you’ll one hundred per cent deserve that hot chocolate when you get home).
The most chill of workouts is perfect for keeping even little kids entertained. Try searching for Cosmic Yoga on YouTube (they do this Frozen yoga routine!)
Why not learn a new yoga pose each day or master a more challenging pose depending on your yoga skills? Start with this simple yoga pose.
Did you learn to Floss yet? Ok, that craze may have passed, but try using this lockdown to learn a new dance – here’s a YouTube roundup of tutorials.
You can Check these infographics for different age groups to see if you are all doing enough.
3. Try Mindfulness
Try explaining mindfulness to children like this. Say it’s like looking out of the window in the morning to see what the weather’s doing, and to help you know what you need that day. If it’s raining outside, you know you need an umbrella. If you’re feeling stormy inside, you can 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.
You can also reset and be in the moment by observing nature. Even in a city, you can enjoy listening to the singing of blackbirds and starlings, see 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.
Spot a tree you like and identify it using this Woodland Trust tree identification guide.
Or click this link for a great resource for Nature Detectives!
Now’s the time to become a massive bird-nerd. Get to know the ones where you live.
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 with this guide to the night sky.
4. Keep learning
Children can still learn the topics they would have been covering in the classroom. And they can try new skills to help them in everyday life, too.
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 something you can share – don’t forget it uses maths, communication and science skills. Click this link for healthy meals and snacks you can create together. You can check you’re all eating healthily with the Eatwell Guide.
Like cooking, getting into the garden is a great way to chill out. January may not the best time to start a veg patch, but there are seeds you can grow indoors at any time of year, like cress. 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 with these easiest ever science experiments.
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.
Read, read, read! Or listen to a story. Or learn a poem by heart every day….
5. Be Kind
We can still give people our time without being physically close to them. Check on people and make sure they’re okay. We can also give people gifts like homemade cards or meals.
Click this link for a list of gifts and cards you can make.
For more information on Mindfulness, Claire wrote this eLearning session.
Follow Claire on Twitter.