8 strategies to keep kids healthy and happy

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For many of us, COVID-19 has completely changed the way we work. Remote working may have its benefits for some, but when kids are out of school and libraries and museums are closed, juggling two roles at once can be a challenge. What should a parent do? As developmental psychologists dedicated to understanding how children learn and play, these questions are filling our inbox. Here we offer some simple strategies for keeping your job and your sanity for parents and caregivers of children under 10.

  1. Children need routines. At daycare and at school, children know what to expect. At home, things are less clear. Creating and talking about a tentative schedule each day can allow you to work around business meetings and time to play. Breakfast routines should always be in the morning, although a little extra sleep isn’t bad. Follow with a short walk or stretching. Children are not good at being sedentary, and it is important to nurture natural tendencies.
  2. Park children in front of screens? Disney + is very tempting, but the data is mixed on the value or damage of screen time for children. The younger the children, the more screen time should be limited. With the exception of video chat, experts argue for the absence of screens before the age of 2. To find the best options for kids ages 3 and up, Common Sense Media is a trusted place to go.
  3. Bring out their inner artist. Young children can paint, while older children can shoot a movie and try their hand at manual editing. What story is your child telling? Now is her chance to be the author and illustrator of her own book. Does she have a favorite character from a series? Let her become a designer. Playing with the arts even helps develop a multitude of cognitive and social skills.
  4. Make music. Music is a real relief, and it develops all the important executive skills of attention, memory and impulse control. Music is also linked to learning math. When you put water in a bottle and blow into it, you get a sound. And when you change the water level, the sound becomes lower and lower. It’s adding science to music. Clap your hands to the beat. Can your child keep up and keep a steady pace? Play a game like “Simon” where the rhythms become more and more complex and your child tries to repeat the pattern.
  5. Go on an excursion in your garden. There are a lot of wonderful things lurking there that you have never noticed before. In addition, your children will have the opportunity to breathe fresh air, exercise and commune with nature.
  6. Play a show. Research shows that taking action can help children learn. Younger people can pretend to be a lion, a tiger, or a bear. Older kids can create their own show with additions from the costume drawer (or your wardrobe).
  7. Learn more about the world. Pick an interesting topic and research it together on the web. Take a trip around the world with Google Street View. Find a science experiment on YouTube. Watch videos of animals in their natural habitat.
  8. Grand parents can take over when schedules get too tight. In the age of FaceTime, grandparents and kids can draw, read, sing, create a puppet show, and more together. Thanks to technology, kids and grandparents can virtually visit places around the world, take museum tours and even go to the symphony.

The home can be a crowded space for families trying to accommodate both school and work. With a little creativity and a lot of flexibility, parents and grandparents can make this time of uncertainty rewarding. Think about the future and a difficult time can be an educational experience for everyone.

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