Schools across the nation closed early this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic leaving millions of children to complete their school year remotely. Parents learned quickly about structure, homeschooling, schedules, and how to talk about the pandemic to their children. Now we are well into summer break and most kids are home with no school to worry about. We’ve gathered some helpful information for parents to keep their children engaged during what is likely to be a more stressful than usual summer break.
Attempt to create a reasonable schedule for weekdays and weekends. Children thrive if there is a plan for each day, particularly during the weekday when they’d normally be in school. With some flexibility built-in, try to set a regular bedtime and wake-up time that is somewhat similar to a school sleep schedule. Allow for some days to be more casual, but without routine, kids easily get bored and have a difficult time once school resumes.
A list of 5-6 activities your children could choose from such as playing outside, coloring, reading, or even screen time will give them options to choose from until meal and nap times if your children still nap. These activities can be done in 30-60 minute blocks. As the country begins to re-open, and as you feel comfortable doing so, you could also set up safe playdates.
Stay Active, Stay Social
Keep your kids active during the day. It will help keep them calm and improve their sleep. The activity could be as simple as walking, hiking, or riding bikes. If you’re stuck indoors, look for some dance or kids exercise videos for your children to follow along with. Allow your children some leisure time as well. It is summer break after all! Allow television, books, or online games within reason. Many programs can be educational and fun.
Kids are social, so if your local guidelines allow and if you feel comfortable, consider getting your children together with another family. Children that are social are happier and have less anxiety. If getting together in person is not possible, use phones, tablets, or computers reasonably to connect with other children online.
If your children are showing signs of anxiety, provide them with accurate, up-to-date information that comes from reliable sources. Kids pay attention to our conversations and what they overhear from the media. Take the time and effort to address their concerns. You can provide reasonable distractions and take time off from listening to the news.
Be mindful of your child’s behavior. During times of stress, you could potentially see more fights between siblings, fights between yourself and your children, depression, or even substance abuse from older children and teens.
If you find yourself or a child excessively sad or anxious, consult with a mental health professional. We are seeing patients remotely at this time. Contact us here.