It’s been over a month since schools across North America were shut down over the COVID-19 pandemic and people are still adjusting to the challenges of home confinement and being asked to shelter-in-place. For most ‘non-essential’ workers it remains unclear when they will be allowed to work away from home and what work conditions may entail for the sake of public health. The same can be said for schoolchildren and their parents who are waiting patiently for schools to reopen for face-to-face education and socialization with friends and peers.
Regardless of those outcomes it will be a long wait of over a year before a vaccine will be available for the public at-large. Until then our social habits may need to be altered and it will be incumbent on individual families to make the best of their circumstances at home. Parents can seize this opportunity to engage their children in fun, educational activities that break the monotony of being stuck at home. The 3 activities recommended in this list are enriching for parents and children of all ages and in some cases can even include other friends or family members. If your family enjoys these shelter-in-place activities you can continue to incorporate them in your lifestyle once we return to normal life as before the pandemic. Try out these ideas and see if your family builds lasting experiences together!
Board games are a blast in so many different ways for people of all ages. They’re interactive and fun while also being challenging for your brain as you strategize and make executive decisions. Children enjoy the tactile experience of moving board game components and that keeps them engaged in the activity. Parents are often surprised at how skilled their children are at board games, especially with how rapid the learning process is when you try new games.
The board game industry has exploded in recent years and there’s ample variety for anyone’s preferences. There are classic family games like Monopoly, of course, but those games have been surpassed in quality by many modern games. Modern family games can be competitive, cooperative, strategic, abstract, educational, puzzle-based, or some combination of those characteristics. BoardGameGeek is an excellent web resource to learn about the hobby and they have a list of top-rated family games to browse through.
Most retail board game stores are closed due to the pandemic, but there are excellent online retail options for home delivery. In the US you can find great selection and pricing on Amazon or Miniature Market, or you can support local retailers who deliver. In Canada there are local retailers who offer nationwide delivery, with 401 Games and Board Game Bliss chief among them. If you and your family are tech-savvy you can try a variety of games and save money in the long-term by purchasing a 4-pack of Tabletop Simulator on the Steam gaming platform. This enables you to play almost any game digitally and you can invite other friends and family members to join remotely. Online, in-person, competitive, cooperative, regardless of your preference there’s a tabletop game for any family.
Cooking & Baking
Meal time is an experience that many children take for granted. Parents work hard to shop for groceries, prepare meals and clean up afterwards. Why not turn cooking or baking into a family bonding activity that teaches valuable skills? Food preparation is a process that requires patience and attention to detail, and those are important traits that kids may lack exposure to with the prevalence of technology that captures attention and provides shortcuts to everyday activities.
Cooking and baking are also physical activities that can be done in any home, providing gross motor and fine motor skill training that can challenge people of all ages. Children will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment from contributing to meal time, helping them to be more mindful of what they’re eating and the teamwork that goes into it. Cooking also presents an opportunity for children to be creative so don’t be afraid to let them experiment safely with new food combinations. If you’re looking for family recipe ideas you can consult this Food Network list.Try it out and see if your family can become fully invested in meal time together.
Video Conferencing Education
Homeschooling has been thrust upon many parents due to the pandemic shutdown but that’s a responsibility that can be shared with others. The structure and educational aspects of schooling are necessary but children can grow bored with the routine of being confined and hearing the same voice to educate and parent every day. Changing up that routine with video lessons from grandparents, aunts, uncles or friends is a great way to provide a new voice and fresh ideas to keep your kids captivated in their education.
Physical distancing mandates limit your kids from meeting extended family members but they can connect on Facetime, Google Hangouts, Skype or Zoom and learn at the same time. You can even engage their school friends in a virtual classroom together where they can stay in touch and simulate a real school environment. It may be the case that your children learn best when they are around peers, even virtually, so it’s definitely worth a try.
With Zoom you can share your digital screen in the video conference, enabling you to incorporate your family’s favorite educational apps and tools in the learning experience, if you have any. Technology opens up many new avenues for connecting and educating while at home, so you can experiment with these ideas or build your own methods to cater to your children’s individual needs. Children ultimately have different learning styles and preferences so you won’t know if virtual education works for them until you try.
While shelter-in-place and physical distancing realities challenge us all to cope with being at home more than we’d like, these activities will help parents make the best of their time at home with fun, engaging, educational activities for the whole family. Try out these activities with your children to create shared experiences that break the monotony of home-based lifestyle. Even better, the hobbies and skills involved in these activities will retain their value after schools are reopened and the pandemic is resolved. Until then stay safe and stay positive!
Comment below to let us to know what activities you have been enjoying, recipes you’ve tried, board games you’ve played, or if you came up with something engaging and fun share the wealth!