If you’re like me, one day you knew that there was a virus circulating the globe. You knew that there were cases in America, and you were cautious, but not too concerned. And then, on a Thursday, things started to get intense. Shops were running low on groceries. A few days later, kids’ schools were cancelled. And now, just a few weeks after that, much of the United States is shuttered. If your kids are bored, here are some free ways to keep kids occupied if under a shelter in place order.
Set a Schedule
The most important thing I would suggest you do with your kids is set a schedule. It doesn’t have to be rigid, but instead, just a general guide for the way the day will go. Kids thrive on routine (school is based on routine), and without it, kids can feel bored and lost.
At our house, we already homeschool two kids, and the other one is home from public school. We do school roughly most of the morning, the kids get a tv break before lunch, then we do more school and creative activities in the afternoon, and the younger ones get TV time or video games before dinner. After dinner, we have a show we watch together, then we have read alouds, and then bed.
Even though the whole world feels off-centered now, we roughly know what will happen every day.
As I mentioned, we have creativity time. You can browse Pinterest for craft ideas, or YouTube for art videos. Or, you can join Mo Willems for Lunch Doodles and get a free art lesson daily.
Require Some Learning Every Day
If your children are home from school, they likely have class work to do. If their school has stopped all coursework, still have your children do something educational every day, whether that’s doing Khan Academy, or playing a math game online, or reading a book, or watching a documentary on television. My kids and I are still doing three to four hours of school a day.
Be a Little More Lenient with Media Time
Having said that, we’re all a little bored and stir crazy, so it’s okay to give your kids a little more media time. I’ve doubled my kids media time (from 1 hr. per day to 2 hours per day). Just be careful not to let them spend all of their time on media.
For many kids, increased time watching TV and playing video games can lead to increased negative behaviors, so give them more leeway within reason.
Enjoy the Family Time
Lastly, enjoy more time as a family. Before this pandemic, most of us were too busy every day. Now we have the gift of time together. Take that time to play a board game together or watch a movie or have a family discussion.
If you’re stuck at home, as so many of us are, try to find the positives of the situation. We’re all experiencing something we’ll likely never experience again in our lifetimes. Use these free ways to keep kids occupied if under a shelter in place order to make the time go faster and be more productive for the whole family.
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in Arizona where she dislikes the summer heat but loves the natural beauty of the area.