Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit pause on everyday life, many parents with little ones at home are scrambling to figure out how to keep their children occupied and themselves sane. With schools closed and extracurricular activities canceled across the country, it’s probably inevitable that children will consume more screen time in the coming weeks.
Whether you are a parent whose job is letting you work remotely, or you’re missing work entirely and have to find ways to keep your child stimulated, experts say it’s important to give yourself (and the kiddos) a break during this uncertain time. “We’re all figuring it out in real time,” says Polly Conway, TV editor at Common Sense Media to the Los Angeles Times. “Our angle is that we just need to go easy on ourselves right now and kids are going to be OK if they get a little more screen time than normal — or a lot more than normal.” However, it’s still important to monitor how your children are spending their screen time, especially with the plethora of options to stream. Luckily, there are plenty of TV and device options to keep the kids busy, without sacrificing educational and social stimulation.
Take Advantage of Educational Websites
Thanks in part to home schoolers, there are several educational websites that serve as great teaching resources. Many profit-based learning companies are offering their resources for free during this time including everything from free eBook downloads made up of tools and ideas to inspire creative play to online science lessons.
For example, the interactive math website Happy Numbers is currently offering free online lessons for the rest of the year, which includes immediate feedback, so your students won’t fall behind with learning.
Keep Them Reading
As much as technology has changed the way children learn, you can never go wrong with a good online book. From graphic novels, biographies or even magazines, kids can benefit from all kinds of reading, especially during this time when healthy distractions are needed more than ever.
If you need a book, many libraries are offering digital copies of thousands of books with your local library card account. Or, you can sign up for a free Audible account and check out audio books to your tablet or e-reader.
Of course, there is no better time to sign up for the free The Children’s Trust. Book Club. Currently for 3-year-olds, the book club is in the process of expanding to all Miami-Dade children from birth to 5-years-old. The new, improved and expanded The Children’s Trust Book Club will offer free, monthly books by mail in English or Spanish along with a guide for parents with activities, information and suggestions about how to share the book with their children. Parents can sign kids up online or via text by texting
“READ” to 786.460.CLUB (2582).
Staying in Touch with Friends
Typically, an hour a day is what is recommended for iPads, texting and social media, but this would be a good time to renegotiate your house rules. Considering the fact kids will not be able to see friends at school or engage in playdates, allowing more screen time may help them cope with the isolation from friends, suggest experts. Just as many of our children are getting used to Zoom and other conferencing platforms for school, they can use them to get together for virtual play dates with their friends.
“It’s really easy for kids to feel depressed about how bad things are: I’m never going to go back to school. I’m never going to see my friends again,” says Michelle Martin, a professor at the University of Washington’s Information School to The Atlantic. “So, I think we need to be cognizant of how much of that they’re absorbing—and try to replace that with some things that are positive.”
Keep on Top Latest Resources at TheChildrensTrust.org
As parents, you’ll do well to keep on top of any and all digital happenings which will help you get used to the new normal at home with your kids. A great place to start is with The Children’s Trust website. The website features a wealth of infromation, resources, articles and other digital tools to help parents, caregivers and children, as well as the Miami-Dade community at large, who will largely be confined to their homes through the coronavirus pandemic. Lastly, stay tuned for the launch of a new The Children’s Trust micro-site specifically dealing with the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic to families and children forced to stay at home coming soon.
Backed by the full force of The Children’s Trust and its equally committed partners and providers, StayHome.Miami is built on the premise that “We’re in This Together.” “StayHome.Miami is full of valuable information to help you and your family cope with the challenges we are facing right now,” said President and CEO James R. Haj. “Instead of anxiety and confusion, we want to help you see this time as full of hope, with as many family activities as possible.”