Here are some ideas from early years professionals in Norfolk, and across the UK, about keeping young children happy while we are staying at home due to the Coronavirus epidemic.
- Try to stay positive and calm, and don't expect too much of yourself or your children. Children need to play, sometimes noisily, they need to be active, and some screen time is ok, but keep it quite limited for small children.
- If your children ask questions about Coronavirus, try to answer them in a truthful, but positive way... e.g. "Yes there is a nasty virus, but most people will get better quite quickly. Washing our hands and staying inside helps to keep us safe"
- Help your child to feel part of the community, join in clapping on Thursdays, make a rainbow picture, and put it in the window or talk about all the people who are helping us, Nurses, Doctors, Shop workers, Farmers, Postal workers etc.
- Try to keep to a routine, having fairly regular times for going out for exercise, meals, snacks, and bedtimes can help.
- Be realistic about what children are like. Sometimes children can play for hours, but often they need help to keep the game going. This is where the adults can help... e.g. I've been watching you playing with your cars, shall we make a road (using masking tape) or a garage (using an empty shoe box or cereal packet) or a tunnel (using the coffee table or chair).
- Children learn many of the most important life skills from their parents, e.g. when you listen to them and show that you are really interested in what they are saying, this supports language development and confidence. Let them help you to butter the bread, hang up the washing or wash the dishes (even if you have to redo it later when they aren't looking!) this supports physical development we call small motor skills, and will develop muscles in fingers, hands and shoulders which will be used for writing.
- Remember that the best toy is you! Most children will enjoy spending extra time with their parents just now, suggest fun things like playing with plastic cups, sponges and spoons in the bath, or rolling cars down a ramp made out of the tube in a kitchen roll, and quieter times too "I'm going to sit down with my coffee and my book, you can sit here too and look at a book if you like."
For ideas look at the following website: