In the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we recognise that it is more critical than ever to support the health and wellbeing of our communities.
Maintaining normal daily routines can make it easier for children to deal with stressful events. Setting routines is a very effective way to settle children into a new situation, make them feel safe, secure and looked after and give them a feeling of control.
Recent events have caused major disruption to normal family routines; with isolation, school holidays, learning and working from home, there is a need to re-create a more defined schedule to help everyone in the family manage. A good schedule will allow time for chores, daily movement, learning, working and rituals to be done effectively, whilst also allocating quality time together. Spending a bit of time now to create schedules, is an investment into the health and resilience of your family to be able to cope during this time.
Below, we have set out some tips to guide you in your efforts, some practical examples followed by a practical resource list with activity ideas.
For more information on the benefits of routines visit the Raising Children Network.
Whilst we are in a period of uncertainty, it’s important to remember that we all have a role to play in ensuring the health and safety of our community.
Like any set of boundaries or rules, these are best set with your child. If they feel they have helped come up with rules themselves, they are more likely to follow it as they understand why it exists.
We have not provided a template for a schedule, as this will be unique to every child and family, depending upon what comes from your discussion.
Come up with types of activities
Before delving straight into the schedule, give your child a piece of paper and pencil and discuss what type of activities should be included. Get them to write down each type of activity. One question you can pose to kids is ‘What do our bodies need to do every day to stay happy and healthy?” For each type of activity the kids came up with, you can ask “why does our mind or body need this every day?” This can help them understand the role of each different activity toward our wellbeing. For those with learning from home requirements, set school work will also need to be incorporated into this discussion. As a guide, a discussion can lead to the following activity groups (but remember, yours may be different):
- Movement (exercise time)
- Things that challenge our brain (mind challenge time)
- Alone time (quiet time)
- Playing together (with siblings / parent / carer)
- Playing electronics and watching tv (screen time)
- Helping around the house (chores)
Next, we discussed “how long should we do this activity every day?” Revisiting the reasons why our body needs that activity helps to guide the amount of time devoted to it. Of course, if you already have time limits for certain activities like screen time, this should be incorporated into your schedule. All our activities can have a minimum time except screen time – that should have a maximum time. You may also need to incorporate set times for learning tasks if your school has provided these.
Write the schedule
Once your child has written all the activity types along with the times, get them to write up a schedule. Try to get your child to do this independently, but some children may need a little assistance. Your child will be used to a daily class schedule at school, so don’t be surprised at how easily this may come to them!
Set your working from home schedule
For parents who need to work from home, now you can set your schedule and coordinate it with your child’s. Your work hours are likely to vary from your usual. You may want to break your work time into chunks to coincide with your child’s screen time and other activities where they are least likely to need you (or be noisy). You may also need to coordinate schedules so that devices can be shared and siblings are doing separate activities (so less likely to fight). You will also need to communicate your adjusted working hours clearly with your employer and colleagues, so they know when you are available.
Set rewards and consequences
Once the schedule is set and you are happy with the timeframes, display it somewhere everyone can see. Discuss when the schedule should be followed and set clear consequences for not following. Again, these will be different for everyone. You may want to reward when they stick to it, rather than punishing for not sticking to it. Make the consequences fit the crime! For example, if you designated time in your work day to spend with your children and they were to distract you from getting your work done, that may mean they will forfeit their time with you, as you need to continue working during designated ‘together time’, to make up for lost time.
Create a list of activity ideas
This is particularly useful (or essential) for those parents working from home who may have kids that find it difficult to amuse themselves. Taking the headings from your list of activity types, dot point activity ideas that will suit your child’s interest. There is an overwhelming amount of activities out there and growing daily, so by narrowing it to your child’s interest will make this less daunting. It is easiest to set this document as a PDF (suitable for electronic sharing so that hyperlinks work). You may want to continue to update the document as you find new ideas. Save onto online sharing (like icloud), so your child can easily access and choose from those activities from any device, during the scheduled time. We have created a document to get you started (see below).
Include a regular time to move
Including a regular time each day dedicated to any type of movement/exercise. Go for a walk, do a workout, bike ride or throw a ball; it doesn’t matter, just as long as you get the blood pumping every day.
Make a ‘special projects’ list
Start off a list with a few ideas and leave room to add more as you or the children come up with ideas. Ideally, these will be specifically screen-free, like painting a rainbow to display in your window. Children can take a break from the schedule at any time to complete these projects.
Trial and adjust if needed
Don’t expect to get it spot on the first time. It will take a little trial and error before getting the right balance. For the first few days, check in with your children at the end of the day and ask if changes need to be made. If they had trouble sticking to the schedule, ask them why and work out a solution together.
Click on the image to view this schedule example.
Click on the image to view this schedule example.
Keeping your body active every day is not only important for our physical health but also helps to keep our minds feel better too! The current guidelines suggest at least 60 minutes of daily activity (anything that gets them moving). However, being confined to the home means we get less incidental activity in our day, so keep that in mind and aim to double the recommendation to 120 minutes daily.
- Just Dance – learn a dance.
- Kidz Bop – choose a dance session.
- Silent Disco – listen to music on your headphones and dance around.
- Cosmic Kids Yoga – choose an adventure, do yoga disco, mindful activities, stretches and 5min brain breaks.
- The Body Coach – choose from any of the workout sessions.
- Kids HIIT Workout – High-Intensity Interval Training; choose from the workout sessions to get the heart pumping.
- Go Noodle – workouts and dances.
- Simply Soccer – some soccer drills you can do inside and outside.
- Football Skills Hub – New skills to master every week and a #playathomechallenge social media challenge.
- Melbourne City Football School – Free four-week football coaching program. Register to receive skill-based sessions from Academy Coaches each weekday from 6 April.
- Soccer drills:
- HomeCourt – is just one way you can develop your core basketball abilities, from beginner to pro. You will need access to Facebook to view videos.
- Go on a bear and rainbow hunt – Spot as many teddy bears and rainbows as you can during your walk around the neighbourhood.
- Create your own treasure hunt – To find around the home, backyard or daily walk. Make a list of 10 items, share this with your friends and family and get them to time how long it takes them to find all the items. Free treasure hunt printables for inspiration.
- Here’s a creative way to reach out – To a community who is at risk of both isolation and the COVID-19. Check out how children visited Winfield Senior Living Community to play Noughts and Crosses in a safe interactive way as a means of interacting and supporting the most vulnerable through this time.
- Do a crossword or Sudoku.
- Complete any activity books you have at home (or buy new ones online).
- Play mastermind, chess or checkers.
- Read a book.
- Do some digital games on Break Edu Fun @ Home – a collection of digital games (with a focus on science and maths) that students from kinder to year 12 can play at home.
- Science experiments – Cool Science Experiment HQ is the perfect place for kids who want to try some fun experiments at home.
- Do maths activities on Mathletics. Free trial, cost involved after that.
- Do a coding project on Scratch Jnr – for 5-7 year olds. Download the app to complete projects offline.
- Do a coding project on Scratch – for 8 – 16 year olds. Download the app to complete projects offline.
- Learn to code at home with Code Camp World. Lesson plans and build your own games safely and free. New live sessions are available for April for a small fee.
- Learn a language with Duolingo.
- Do a puzzle.
- World Wondering questions. If you have any question about the world or how it works, write it down, research it online (using reliable sources) and then write (or type) up the answer in your own words.
- Challenge your kids to The Lego Challenge by The Exciting Teacher.
- Educating Young Engineers – gives science-based learning in the form of Lego building activities.
- Thinkwritten – supplies parents with 300 creative writing prompts for kids.
- Colour in.
- Read a book.
- Write in your writers’ notebook.
- Do some origami.
- Write a story or keep a holiday diary.
- Do a meditation on Smiling Mind App or check out the Thrive Inside resources and activities just released for kids and adults to help you stay calm and healthy.
- Build a Lego project.
- Do a puzzle.
- Write a letter to a friend
- Eastern Region Libraries have an online resource for people to use from home. There is a range of products for adults and children covering work, school and play. If you don’t have a membership – you can join the Library online they have lifted the membership conditions to give you instant access.
- Join ERL’s Children’s Librarians at 11am each weekday for a live storytime session, plus sessions aimed at other age groups at other scheduled times. All live storytimes are available for watching at a later date through ERL’s webpage under Kids, then Storytimes.
- Storybox Library, which is also available through ERL webpage under Kids, and then Kids eLibrary. Storybox Library has mostly Australian content, and the stories are read by famous Australians, including actors, authors, comedians and many more! This is a wonderful resource and is completely free with your library card.
- Listen to a book read by David Walliams.
- Oxford Owl – Discover expert advice, educational resources and free eBooks to support children’s learning at primary school and at home.
- Support Our Children Through Coronavirus. Stacey Kelly (founder of Early Years Story Box) created a storybook with activities to help explain the coronavirus to children and to reassure them that everything will be okay.
- Do some art and craft projects at Red Ted Art.
- Do an art lesson, learn to draw at Art for Kids Hub.
- Check out ‘Art with Abi’ and educational resource page via Facebook which includes daily drawing.
- Keep the little ones occupied with Tinyme Printables activities and craft project.
- Lunch Doodles – Mo Willems is inviting you to draw with him. You can follow along to a new tutorial every weekday at 1pm ET for the next few weeks.
- Side Walk Chalk Activities for kids – be creative with your kids!
- Build your own Fairy/Troll house – to find out more check out Wilderness Outdoor Education.
- Create your own nature crown with bendy twigs and flowers from your own garden.
- Check out the Nomster Recipe Library that showcases Illustrated recipe picture books that get kid chefs excited about cooking.
- Community Cooking Chain. Discover new family favourite recipes to share with your family, friends or school. Search your recipe books or online to find a recipe that features fruit, vegetables or wholegrains, that you will be able to cook (with Mum or Dad’s help). Take photos of you cooking in the kitchen and send it to your friends to inspire them to do the same and share with you.
- Cooking for kids with Jamie Oliver has some simple and healthy ideas to get you started.
A whole new online world of discovery awaits your children, all without leaving the house. Check out these ideas to access and explore local favourites and sites from across the world. They can even travel to the moon! Best of all, these excursions are all free.
- Explore Phenomenom! Watch videos, listen to podcasts and follow the Super Naturals whilst being inspired about vegetables and the science of food and cooking.
- NASA Kids’ Club– Provides fun and educational activities for the astronauts of tomorrow.
- NASA Climate Kids– Sets out to answer kids’ biggest questions about the world and climate change.
- Visit local and international museums from the comfort of your home, including; the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the British Museum in London, the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and all of the Melbourne Museums (including the Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum), amongst others.
- Visit the Boston Children’s Museum. “Walk” through all three floors of the Boston Children’s Museum on this virtual tour. Check out fun exhibits like Explore-a-Saurus and the Japanese House.
- Visit the Great Wall of China. See one of the wonders of the world with this amazing, thousands-year-old fortification system known the world over. This virtual tour has three options for touring the ancient structure: Jinshaling to Simatai, watchtower, and winter.
- Tour Easter Island. Nova’s online adventure “Secrets of Easter Island” delves into the mystery with a virtual tour.
- Go to Mars! No, really! You can absolutely “go” to the red planet. With Access Mars, you can see the actual surface of Mars, recorded by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Trust us—don’t skip the intro.
- Visit a farm. Farm Fresh 360 allows you to immerse yourself in Canadian farm and food tours—from raising pigs to making milk and cheese.
- Visit the San Diego Zoo and watch the animals live.
- Visit the Melbourne Zoo and watch the animals live.
- Visit the Tarongo Zoo and watch the animals live. Tune in daily to see your favourite animals, meet our friendly keepers and learn what goes on behind the scenes.
- Visit the British Museum – located in the heart of London allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies.
- Victorian Government Coronavirus Update
- Beyond Blue Looking after your Mental Health during The Coronavirus
- Raising Children Network Coronavirus and Children
- Health Direct Coronavirus
- Royal Children’s Hospital – Family Violence
- Future Learn – COVID-19: Helping Young People Manage Low Mood and Depression
For more information on these resources please contact the EACH Health Promotion Team – Catherine.Delaney@each.com.au or (03) 9757 6278.