The new norm of physical distancing and staying home can be difficult to adjust to, but is essential to slow the spread of coronavirus in our communities.
It can be especially challenging if the whole family is out of routine, with parents not going to work or working from home, children not going to school or day care and not able to take part in their normal daily activities. It can be difficult for children to understand why they can no longer go for sleepovers, visit grandparents over the holidays or even play with their friends in the park.
It's important for children to be able to maintain social connections during this time, particularly if they are no longer going to school or childcare. Allowing time during the day for telephone or video calls, with supervision appropriate to their age, to check in with friends, grandparents and other family will help them to maintain these important social connections.
Children need some structure and variety in their day. Be mindful of the amount of time children spend watching TV or being on a computer or other device. While it may be harder to limit the amount of time children and young people spend using screens, try to make sure that the content they are accessing is of a high quality, educational and something that you and your child can engage in together. For more information, see our Children and screen time factsheet.
As much as possible, try to organise the day so that children do the same kinds of things they would be doing if they were at school or childcare, except being able to go out. Try to mix up activities, so that there are times for physical activity, active play, art and craft, reading and quiet times throughout the day.
If you have a backyard, get children outside in the backyard for some of the day. If you’re in an apartment, take children out for short walks or supervise them playing by a door or window where they can see the outside world. In homes with more than one level, make sure that window locks are used and access to balconies is restricted to prevent children falling from buildings. Kids Health, our Child Health Promotion Unit has more information about falls from buildings and keeping children safe around windows and balconies.
Our Child Life and Music Therapists and Health Promotion teams have put together some ideas to help families and children cope with being in home isolation. We hope that you find them useful.
We will be adding more activities, ideas and resources over the next few weeks, so please check back in from time to time to see what we’ve added. Please see below and use the links on the right for activities, resources and ideas.
Create a comforting, sensory area for relaxation and quiet activities such as reading or listening to music
Cushions, comfy mats, pillows, fairy/animal lights, blankets, beanbags can all be used to create a comforting space
Older children might like to make their own relaxation toolbox with headphones, favourite books, list of favourite songs, some positive affirmations, eye pillows, fidget toys and so on.
If you are able to have a space set up for art and craft activities to make it easier for children to be creative at different times throughout the day.
Some basics for your art and craft space might include:
Preparing food is an important skill for children to learn but make it fun as well.
Preparing food together is a great way for children to learn while they help to prepare lunch, dinner or make a snack with you. Cooking can also be a good time to practice handwashing and is great for practising maths, science and reading skills.
Preparing family food together can also be a good time to talk about the things that might be worrying your children and can bring families closer together.
Supervise children when in the kitchen to prevent burns from hot foods and drinks as well as other injuries.
Why not build a garden? Try a vegetable one or even a fairy garden.
Get your kids to make up games—try them on a quiz or make a new board game.
Other suggestions are to play a board game, learn words to a song or make up a dance or play.
SCHN Child Life Therapy teams, Kids Health Child Health Promotion Unit, Public Relations