Time to get innovative, devise fun indoor activities & study online
Summer vacation came early for students this year but with a precondition, no venturing out of home. The usual fun and frolic associated with summer vacations is missing this time owing to the looming threat of COVID-19 but that does not mean you cannot have fun indoors. Experts say, using the right combination of online academics and indoor activities you can keep your children happy, busy and also meet your work-from-home deadlines.
An estimate drawn up by the UN states that 1.25 billion children now are at home across the world owing to Coronavirus lockdown. While this has posed an unprecedented challenge for parents, this global phenomenon has also resulted in a spike in popularity of online academic courses and games too.
Several schools in India and across the globe have started conducting online classes for their students to keep them abreast with the academic calendar. Several government and private web portals too are offering free academic courses online.
Several popular online education startups in India have granted free access to their apps to students. Most of the apps and online education portals have seen a huge jump in the number of daily visitors. Students from across the country are now accessing interactive video classes, live academic sessions, preparatory sessions for exams and quizzes. Industry experts believe that this outbreak of Coronavirus could well mark the turning point for the online education industry.
Learning curve for parents
If you find yourself at wits end while dealing with work-from-home and keeping your children constructively busy, then you are not alone. One of the best teachers of the world, Andria Zafirakou, who won the 2018 Global Teacher Prize has said: “Even teachers will say their hardest students are their own children. It’s quite tough teaching your own kids because they won’t listen to you, and you have no tolerance or patience. So rest assured, we’re with you!”
Zafirakou, arts and textiles teacher at the Alperton Community School in northwest London, is also a World Economic Forum cultural leader. She recently spoke at a session of a series titled World Economic Forum's Cultural Leaders on building resilience in the pandemic.
Creativity is the key
Zakirafou, who is the mother of two teenage daughters, said at the session: “We’re all having to be more creative. I know that not every household has got access to paints, so I’ve been doing collage and lots of drawing activities. I’m really mindful that I want them being creative and doing things away from the screen (laptop, tablet and television). I want them out in the garden, if they have one, to draw what’s there. So it’s about how I can get them to remain creative in their own environments.”
Art, craft & cooking: Lead by example
She advised parents to give their children ample time to work on a creative assignment and also to find online resources to fuel their creativity. She said: “Art can be so powerful because it makes you escape for a little bit, it puts you in that mindfulness zone, and time passes so quickly. As adults, if we are doing this ourselves, then we are showing good habits to our children. So take time out of your busy, strange lives at the moment, by doing something like cooking, crochet or colouring in with your children. That’s a fantastic thing to be doing together, and it will go such a long way.”
Zakirafou also urged the parents not to worry about the children falling behind. She said: “We’ve really got to be kind to each other: we are in a huge transition and it’s extraordinarily difficult. I can sense the anxiety parents might have about children falling behind, but just make sure they do a little bit, often, so that they are still engaged in the daily routine of learning. And be kind to yourself: even if your child does not complete a worksheet, and you’ve had a really bad day with them, that’s OK. It’s not the end of the world.”
Zakirafou said during the session: “Not all lessons need to be academic – they can be life lessons we want our children to learn as well. Even how they should fold their clothes, mop up or vacuum.” She also stressed on demarcating a family time daily and allowing children to communicate with their friends.
She advised, “Help them with time management. And let’s get them reading books, drawing on toilet rolls, cooking, in the garden building things (if possible) – because they can’t be the generation that’s in front of screens learning, otherwise it will have a huge effect on them.”
Regulating the time children spend glued to television sets, laptops, tablets or mobile phones is as crucial as their academic activities. Senior faculty editor at Havard Health Publishing, Claire McCarthy stresses on the need for parents to devise means to coax children away from screens with interesting planned activities.
Build a fort in the living room
Yes, this can be easily accomplished with stuff available in the home. Using blankets and sheets over chairs, a tent-like structure can be set up quite easily in the living room. Additional necessities for the plan to take shape can be addressed with mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows and flashlights. McCarthy has suggested that allowing children to sleep and play within the fort can prove to be a novel idea.
Using building blocks, empty cartons, boxes and some imagination parents can help their children build a city within the home. Roads, cars, people, animals, trains and other toys can be added in phases to ensure that the indoor city keeps growing over the vacation period.
Fun with books
Books too can be fun if you take out some time to read books aloud. Roping in children to partake in this reading time will be fun. McCarthy recounted: “When my children were younger, we read the Harry Potter series out loud, as well as the Chronicles of Narnia and books by E.B. White and Roald Dahl. Act out the voices. Have some fun.”
Produce a puppet show
Puppets can be designed quite easily with the involvement of parents. You can teach your children to make puppets using socks or simply use dolls or action figures for various roles in the puppet show. “You can make a makeshift stage by cutting out the back of a box and taping cloth (like a pillowcase) to fall over the front,” said McCarthy.
Getting out interesting indoor games that have long since been elbowed out to spend time with screens might prove to be the turning point. With a little initiative and ingenuity shown by parents, forgotten indoor games like chess, checkers, scrabble, monopoly can easily be brought back into vogue.
Bake a cake
Helping children get creative and an early exposure to the fun of baking tasty delights can prove to be the perfect idea to keep youngsters busy and salivating. Nothing fancy is needed, it is okay to use readymade cake mixes or pre-made cookie dough. The heady fragrance and heavenly taste of freshly baked cakes and cookies can be quite a hit with the budding chefs. Adding frosting, decorations with some ambient music will go a long way to endear the activity to children and heighten their fun.