Have a clear routine
Establishing a routine for the day is crucial. Be sure to have them wake up at pretty much the same time every day (the same goes for bedtime, which should never be later than 9.30 pm, especially for little ones) and have breakfast together. Children usually have school to keep them busy in the morning, but you should have “school time” in the morning even when the kids stay home: older children generally have homework to do or online lessons to follow, while younger children can take part in projects (salt dough, home-made slime - we recommend versions that don't use detergent, since they're safer -, origami, aluminum foil sculptures...), drawing, learning to write and other activities similar to those offered in preschool and daycare centres. This helps keep things normal, without upsetting their routine.
Activities you can do at Home with your Children
Anything goes, from dancing to simple sports activities. Whether the games are structured or free-flowing, what matters most is participating with them: it's a great chance to do some exercise together and share pleasant and entertaining moments. Daily exercise is very important for children, especially during times when sports activities are suspended, because it helps develop their motor skills, as well as keeping them entertained. Those fortunate enough to have a garden or a balcony can exercise outdoors, but numerous indoor sports and exercises are available for everyone to keep themselves and their children active.
Ten things you can do at Home with your Children
Here's a list of ten rules for families prepared by the Italian Society of Preventive and Social Pediatrics (SIPPS), with entertaining games and activities that can be shared with children at home to pro-actively develop their emotional and cognitive skills.
- Let them help with everyday chores like doing the laundry, using the vacuum cleaner, putting things away: time spent accompanying and imitating parents is an excellent contribution to a child's cognitive and emotional development: both general and fine motor skills are exercised plus the child learns to interact with people.
- Teach them to get dressed by themselves: when it comes to personal autonomy, we often tend to step in as parents and do things ourselves. Use this an opportunity to explore the necessary steps with your child day after day.
- Share kitchen activities: have them make a meatball, squeeze an orange, slice a banana or a hard-boiled egg: think of how satisfied your children will be to eat or drink something they made with their own hands.
- Threading, using spring pins, grouping objects: learning basic concepts like addition and subtraction is as easy as playing a game. Teach kids to group similar objects, thread macaroni into necklaces and bracelets, or collect seasonal fruits in baskets.
- Tie knots, ribbons and bows: all you need is some colorful string, or learn to tie shoelaces first, for a quick transition from tying knots to doing gymnastics.
- Play with a ball, wad of paper, or piece of rope: these activities can be done at home and require cooperation, whether between two or more children or between parents and children. It's a way of encouraging harmonic movements, socialisation and awareness of one's surroundings. If you're indoors, try using a wad of paper held together with adhesive tape to form a ball: it's a less noisy option.
- Read stories to children, build on them and use emphasis: try using a different style and tone for each character to create a more engaging atmosphere as you dedicate this special and unhurried moment to your child. Evenings are a great time for stories and will help kids fall asleep.
- Use cardboard boxes of different sizes: build houses, cars, planes, swords, armour and helmets. All you need is scissors, adhesive tape and some glue to make an automobile or a spaceship for your child to sit in and become a pilot, astronaut, knight or princess.
- Jump around and dance while listening to music together: dancing, moving around and imitating mum and dad's steps encourages children to unwind and feel more at ease during this unusual period.
- Sing, individually and together. Listening to others and to oneself, memorising easy songs, and learning to rhyme will help children improve their pronunciation.