COVID-19: Engaging Children While at Home

We’re in this together.

As schools shut down in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many parents are trying to keep their children healthy, engaged and learning while at home. Here are some tips on structuring your time at home while practicing social distancing.

  • Discuss COVID-19 with children. With schools closed and the environment around them evolving, children are aware something is happening. Having a conversation with a parent or family member will help keep kids from worrying. Your conversation with them is a chance to discuss the facts and help children feel informed. Your goal for the conversation should be to educate and set a proper emotional tone – focus on keeping children calm but encouraging them to take the situation seriously.
  • Keep daily routines in place. Consistency and structure are calming during times of stress. You can start building a routine by mimicking a school or day camp schedule. Make sure your schedule includes changing activities at predictable intervals, and alternating periods of study and play.
  • Review what your child was learning. Many schools are providing online resources for parents to ensure that students can continue learning during school closures. You should dedicate time each day to working with your students on their education goals. Try working on things such as writing, reading, and math.The amount of time you spend working with your children will vary for each family. Taking steps to remain healthy should remain the priority.d
  • Get creative with new activities. There are all sorts of activities that can be done around the house and outside to spark children’s imagination and keep them occupied throughout the day.
    • Outside Play. Getting outside is a great opportunity for a child to get some fresh air and let out some energy. While you should maintain rules of social distancing, there are still a ton of great outdoor activities. Examples include “I Spy,” sidewalk chalk art and collecting rocks and sticks to arrange by size and color. Make the most of your outdoor time and sign your children up for the Sports Bakers Kids Challenge, so they can earn fun prizes as they play. Make sure to avoid public playgrounds and activities involving lots of contact.
    • Physical Play. Ensure sure children have opportunities to express themselves and move around while at home. Take time for them to move around and have fun. This can happen both inside and outdoors. Turn up the music and have a dance party, create obstacle courses with objects around your house or have an indoor camp-out with sheets and pillows.
    • Quiet Play. Both you and your children will need some quiet time to recharge throughout the day. Quiet times allow children to rest and recharge, while giving you an opportunity to get some work done. Remember that “quiet time” does not have to mean time in front of a screen. Do a puzzle, work in a coloring book, build something out of blocks or have designated reading time.
  • Access to meals. It is important that every child still has access to healthful food  each day. The schools in our community are committed to keeping their students fed during this shutdown. Meals for ALL students are being distributed at schools, food banks, and local neighborhoods. The links below will help you find current food distribution plans for your area.
  • Childcare options. Lots of parents are currently working from home, some parents are still in their usual work environment as they are in a field currently considered essential. With so many daycares currently shutdown, it can be difficult to find childcare options. The YMCA of Greater Richmond is currently running Camp Hope, a childcare option for essential personal.
  • Keep it positive. It is understandable to feel anxious and uncertain right now, but how we handle these feelings can have a huge impact on our children. In moments when you are feeling anxious, avoid talking about concerns in front of your children. Take breaks when you can to ensure you can remain calm and collected when with your children.
  • Ask for help. If there is more than one adult at home, agree that you’ll trade off when it comes to spending time watching the children. This is especially beneficial if you are both working from home and have younger children. It is important that you are getting a break and breathing room as needed.

Other Resources:

United Way is currently matching up to $100,000 in donations to the Central Virginia COVID-19 Response Fund through our website for those who need it most. Learn more about this fund and it’s impact here.

Stay up-to-date on the latest United Way event and meeting schedule changes here.

See what you can do as a member of our community to slow the spread of COVID-19 here.

Read tips on keeping older adults connected and healthy here.