It is no longer news that our lives have taken a different turn in the last few weeks and everything as we know it, is different. No sphere of life has been spared – social, economic, religious, even family life. With the rise of the pandemic and the resultant measures taken to curtail the spread across the world, many family settings have seen a change – nearly everyone is at home, all day! This has left many parents with a crisis: How to keep the kids actively engaged all week long as the situation persists. The good news? It is easier than it seems right now.
The secret is to establish a routine and stay dedicated to it as much as possible. And guess what? Your kids are already used to it! As the kids could be out of school for an indeterminate length of time, it’s important they do not lose the sense of routine existing in the school system. This will help keep them focused, disciplined and goal-oriented even as they play and relax.
Ready to draw up your daily schedule? Great!
Begin by working your way through the usual activities that form a part of your child’s life even during school periods – waking up, brushing, bath time, breakfast, prayer times, TV time, lunch, nap, school work, dinner, bedtime. Create time blocks for these tasks to keep you and the kids accountable and on track.
Now you are ready to fill in the rest of the day with other fun activities that are bound to keep your child’s mood up in the midst of the emergency situation we find ourselves.
Here are a few activities to include in your schedule and get your kids raving with excitement all day long:
1. Build a Reader
This period is the perfect opportunity to build a child’s reading habit. Dedicating 20 minutes a day to reading is a great way to improve your child’s reading skills. You can design reading time so you take turns reading aloud – parents read aloud, the child reads aloud (if they can read), and you read aloud together. You will be instilling the love for books in your child while creating wonderful bonding opportunities for the family. For much younger kids who can’t read on their own, audiobooks are the answer. Find free audiobooks here. If you can’t find a suitable audiobook for your kids, make one yourself of their favourite book using your phone; they will love it!
2. Virtual Play Dates and Visits
Who says the visits and play dates have to stop because we are staying home? Although the kids can’t visit relatives, you can schedule regular contacts with family members – virtually – using the wide range of video chat options available online such as WhatsApp, Skype, Google Duo, Imo, Messenger and more. Working with other parents, your kids can enjoy a virtual play date with their best friends to keep their spirits soaring as we observe physical distancing. Whether a 5 or 15 minutes time block, just get the kids in touch and they will keep it going!
3. Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunt is an exciting and perfect way for your kids to have fun while learning various concepts at the same time. Keep it simple for younger kids; you may ask them to find items beginning with a particular letter of the alphabet in the living room and have them yell out the names of the objects each time a find is made. Make the search a little more challenging for older kids.
If you have sticky notes and a cardboard here’s a variation that can get everyone involved at the same time: write names of animals, cities, household items, colours, shapes (the options are endless) on sticky notes and hide them in specific places around the house for the kids to find. Have them place the sticky notes under the right categories on the finder’s board that hangs on the wall in an agreed return location. The scavenger with the most finds wins!
4. Go Old School with Puzzles
Spice up game time with puzzles. Crosswords, jigsaw, Sudoku are a must if you are looking to merge play and active learning. Luckily, there are several printable options available online. Find tons of games and puzzles for all ages on Krazydad and keep your kids’ brains busy.
5. Qur’an Challenge
As lockdown and restrictions persist, take advantage of the opportunity it offers to improve your child’s knowledge of the Qur’an. Have a family Qur’an time and set age-specific memorization targets for each child. Exploit their love for competition and have them recite the memorized portion to the family. If possible, reward the children for their efforts and increase their love for the Qur’an.
6. Let them Help
Yes, I mean with the chores 😁. Young kids are usually eager to step into ‘adult shoes’ and will jump at any offer to lend a hand in doing chores around the house. Whether it is assisting in prepping ingredients for cooking, handing you the cutlery as you set the table, organizing their own wardrobe or making their own bed, give them room to help.. They will get a kick out of it and learn that they equally have a role to play in keeping a clean and organized house. Even though chores may not be very popular with the older children, you can include short time blocks in your schedule to get them to do some of these chores on certain days.
7. Rotate a Mu’adhin
Prayer times form a regular part of our lives as Muslims. While that hasn’t changed, the way we observe this cardinal act of worship has. Following the closures of mosques to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Muslims now have to pray at home. As a parent, you can use this period to develop your kids spirituality. Get your boys to take turns (if they are old enough) to call out the adhan in the home at Salat times. Having them call the Adhan teaches them responsibility, discipline, and time management.
These aren’t regular times so do not feel guilty if you let the kids spend longer than the allotted time on any given activity. You could always move a planned task to the next day. While it is vital to give them a feeling of normalcy & routine, it is equally important to let them revel in the experiences and create happy memories with the family during this season.
As parents, you must display openness and honesty in answering whatever questions they have about the pandemic and issues surrounding it. The change in lifestyle could create anxiety and fear in the minds of young kids as they try to understand among other things why their friends can no longer come over. Tell them what is known about the virus and help them understand that the restrictions are recommended by health authorities to keep them and everyone else safe. In sha Allah, with complete trust in Allah and compliance with given directives, we shall overcome this.