COVID-19 has undeniably affected every aspect of the modern world. As schools move to virtual learning and shared areas close in concern for public safety, many parents struggle to create a stimulating environment for their young children. Additionally, since most childcare services have been temporarily suspended with no reinstatement date in sight, many of those same parents are torn between providing adequate home-care for their children and performing their work duties from home. Although there are many things that parents can use to occupy their young children, there are six specific ones that are highly recommended by pediatricians across the country:
- Read. Research suggests that engaging in story-time with young children has a variety of benefits. Child psychologists claim that setting specific times for “story-time” gives children the opportunity to learn and practice social skills since reading promotes internal reflection. Additionally, it also teaches soft skills such as how to sit still for extended periods of time and listen attentively. Most importantly, research suggests that adults who were read to as children developed language and social skills at a much quicker rate than their peers. To help parents tackle home education, Audible is currently offering free stories for kids up to the age of 18 in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Japanese.
- Exercise Indoors. Although most gyms are still closed across the country, exercise is necessary for children and adults alike. Even though public exercise is likely not an option for many Americans, exercising indoors is equally beneficial. Peloton is currently offering 90 days of free online classes that require little to no equipment. For children, YouTube has a variety of free yoga videos for kids.
- Create Themes. Even though many schools are closed for in-person instruction, creating and sticking to a schedule helps maintain consistency in a child’s life. Some experts recommend mixing things up and creating a themed schedule that children can look forward to each day. Daily themes can include sports day, crazy socks day, neon day, or superhero day. Themed days allow children to express their own creativity in a safe and supportive environment.
- Visit Online Museums. In the wake of the pandemic, many businesses that require in-person interaction have struggled to keep their doors open. Despite all the negative aspects, COVID-19 has actually increased overall accessibility and moved many businesses into the 21st century as a means of survival–museums are no different. Many museums now offer online tours that allow visitors to virtually walk through and view the exhibits. Additional information about each exhibit is also provided. This not only helps keep people safe, but promotes a new level of accessibility to these educational opportunities for all socioeconomic classes.
- Watch Animal Exhibits. Just as museums have had to adapt to virtual operations, zoos and wildlife sanctuaries have done the same. Now, children and adults can visit virtual zoos and watch animals live 24 hours a day. Some zoos have even developed virtual field trips that provide recorded instruction on each animal included in the presentation. Similarly, many wildlife refuges allow visitors to watch and follow along as injured animals are treated. These virtual experiences provide students across the globe with interactive and educational opportunities that would likely be unavailable otherwise.
- Listen to Podcasts. Recently, podcasts have become increasingly popular as more people work and educate from home. While most are aware of podcasts for adults, many producers also provide age-appropriate podcasts for children of all ages.
While this year has been chalked full of unprecedented times, there are now endless resources to help struggling parents and children deal with this new world. As summer vacation rages on, utilizing these resources may be necessary to provide entertaining and educational opportunities for America’s youth.