How to keep your kids entertained both on and offline
How to keep your kids entertained and happy – both on and off screens.
Like their parents, kids are trying to figure out how to navigate the “new normal.” While at home, young members of the family need entertaining, help with their online schooling or both.
So, how do you keep school-aged kids focused? One way is to create a schedule, as kids are accustomed to having routines at school. Map out online classes, breaks, meals and snacks. When will they do schoolwork? Are there certain streaming shows you want to schedule around? When will they play? Scheduling doesn’t have to be complex: using printed, modular scheduling blocks can be an easy way to loosely outline and visualize their day.
And what about screen time? Jennifer Shapka, associate professor in the faculty of education at the University of British Columbia, says screens may not be such a bad idea.
“Kids are going to survive this,” she told the Chronicle Journal Opens in a new window.. “And even if they spend more time than usual on these devices, it’s not going to suddenly put them on a negative trajectory for your life. You’re not breaking your children.”
Valuable screen time
Video playdates with friends and cousins near and far are one great way to use screens and let your children interact with their peers. Here are some other interesting virtual opportunities:
The CBC has opened up its teacher resource site Curio.ca Opens in a new window.. The subscription service offers hands-on activities, documentaries, audio content, teacher guides and more in both English and French. Parents can check if their school district subscribes to Curio.ca for more information.
The Google Arts and Culture app offers virtual tours of museums, landmarks, famous places and artwork around the world Opens in a new window.. How about a guided tour of the Royal BC Museum, the Tutu Project National Ballet of Canada 2012 or Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum?
Outschool has online classes that detail Canada’s cultural history and are appropriate for different ages. A few of these include Maple Trees, Hockey, and Beavers: A Look at the Official Symbols of Canada; Toques, Poutine, and Bagged Milk: What Makes Canada Unique? and Counting Monday (Canadian Coins) Opens in a new window.. There are courses for the arts, music, language, health and wellness, coding and tech, life skills, math, science and nature. They range from one-time classes to short or semester-long ones that run weekdays, weekends and in the evenings. The resource also offers virtual summer camps.
Spotify has made its kids app, with content appropriate for kids 3 years and up, available to Spotify Premium Family subscribers Opens in a new window.. They hand pick all content, including more than 8,000 songs, Disney Music Group stories, a playlist called Learning, bedtime stories and other audio experiences your child can explore safely on their own.
Kanopy offers free films, documentaries and children’s series. Enter your library card number for access. Kanopy Kids also has unlimited streaming of kids’ movies, books, TV series, science and math videos, classic and international videos, language videos and a Opens in a new window.lot more Opens in a new window..
Audible is currently offering audiobooks for children in several languages for free Opens in a new window.. There are books for preschool-age kids to teens, and they include literary classics, folk and fairy tales.
Everybody needs breaks from their screens, too. Here are some non-digital ideas that will help keep your kids entertained.
Use tape to make “roads” on a wood floor, or draw a “road system” on flattened cardboard boxes. Let the kids use blocks, trucks, cars and other toys to build their own city.
Pile up cardboard, pillows and blankets to construct indoor forts.
Dig out the jigsaw puzzles.
Host your own recess. If the weather is in your favour and the kids are restless, let them take their energy outside. Visit a nearby park or outdoor space and create an obstacle course where they run around items you lay out. Encourage them to make their own course.
Have younger kids “help” you cook. Let older kids take charge of making a meal.
Put reading time on the daily schedule. Create a reading nook with a comfy chair, some squishy pillows, a throw blanket and a reading lamp. Schedule regular family reading times in the evenings or after lunch. For a different twist on family reading time, download family-friendly audiobooks.