There are many questions going around at this strange time, but being at home with school-age children who are suddenly looking up to their carers as teachers is definitely one of the more strange ones!

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With more children at home at the moment, it’s going to be difficult for many adults to get anything done. The working day suddenly shifts more into the downtime of the evening, as schooling and entertaining children become the important activities of the day. Many teachers have commented that there is a reason why teachers are trained, and that carers and parents can’t be too hard on themselves with this new normal. The BBC has recommended that days are not taken up with work alone, and that there should be time for play as well. But does this alleviate the guilt you may feel when you have to say, “Not now, I’m trying to work too”? Perhaps you need a few activity ideas to keep the little ones educated as well as entertained during this time. We’ve come up with some ideas to keep children busy so you can have half an hour to finish that important e-mail, or send that pressing report. Of course, kids will still have their own work to do, and schools will be setting work that needs completing. But they also understand that some days, parents do need to be adults and workers too.

We are all in this together, and we are all feeling our way around. We are all hoping that, just as we get the hang of all this, the schools will reopen, work will resume in the office and we can all get together and give one another a GREAT BIG HUG!

Go on a wildlife hunt!

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Even if you don’t have outside space, if you have windows and a cupboard you can still join in! Give your children a list of things to spot, and let them loose with a pen and paper! They can draw what they see, or write a description of them, as well as the name, if they know it. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Find something with spots
  • Find something with wings
  • Find something with more that two legs
  • Find an insect
  • Find a creature that sings
  • Find something that makes a web
  • Find something that lives inside
  • Find something that lives under a rock
  • Find something living on a tree
  • Find something that scuttles
  • Find something that buzzes

Get painting!

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You can actually buy paint sticks that mean you don’t have cups of water everywhere, which can be a relief for parents! If you can’t get hold of any of these, you can just use watercolours. Either way, you’ll need old clothes and lots of newspapers or old cloth to put on the floor. Use your wildlife spottings for inspiration, or come up with your own theme – perhaps the kids are doing a project at school that can be linked to a painting afternoon? Or let them choose their favourite moment from their favourite book, or the character they like the most, and get them to paint them. There are no winners or losers, or people who “can’t” – it’s about having fun and being creative. And trying to make as little mess as possible!

Write a story

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We couldn’t leave this out! Story writing can be tricky for some kids though, so maybe they will feel more comfortable drawing a story. There are no rules – tell a story using your own style and theme. Use collage (although make sure adults use the scissors!), try painting a story, try drawing one. If you want, try typing one, try writing one by hand. Write one entirely in crayon! Perhaps write a story about the first thing you’ll do when you can see your friends again, or what you most look forward to eating once the lockdown is lifted. Maybe there’s something you can’t wait to learn, like surfing, or perhaps you really want to go back to the play park. Maybe you’re excited to see a particular beach, or person. You could try writing a diary about the time in lockdown for children to read in years to come, perhaps children learning about this time at school. Whilst this seems like a scary and unsettled time, it will pass and focusing on that, in the context of other children perhaps learning about it, may help your children to focus on the end of the lockdown and more positive days ahead.

Bake!

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This is one for the older kids, and the slightly braver parents and carers! Some people have struggled to get flour recently, as there has been such demand (and a huge thank you to the people making flour and trying their best to get it out to the shops super quickly) but a quick google of gluten- free recipes can bring up great alternatives, such as ground almonds. You could try flapjacks as well, they don’t need flour! Here is a great recipe we use a lot (we have roughly translated ounces to grams!):

  • 10oz/280g butter or marge
  • 20oz/560g oats
  • 4oz/120g/120ml malt extract
  • 5oz/140g soft brown sugar
  • Freshly ground nutmeg

Melt the marg/butter and sugar with the malt extract until it’s all melted together. Add the oats and nutmeg and mix well. Press into a pre-greased swiss roll tin (or fairly shallow, small-ish tin). Bake for 20mins on a medium heat and take out when golden brown and a bit wobbly still. Cut when still warm but remove from tray when cool, and enjoy with a cup of tea!

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Hopefully these will help you to gain five minutes back so you can get on with some work! Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy whatever you have got planned. Stay safe, stay home, stay healthy. Big hugs to you all!