In these uncertain times, with self-isolation within families and social distancing from the wider community, I put together a really practical and useful survival guide to staying home for parents to use when their children are at home. I hope this helps you and spreads it among others.
Stay calm, playful and optimistic. We can do it together!
For many people, this is the first time we have all the children at home together for such a long time, without vacations and travel. The weeks and months ahead of us can therefore seem really depressing, even overwhelming.
I understand the feeling as well, but I think it helps to be calm and to remind ourselves that WE CAN DO IT FULLY and that we are perfectly suited to the task that awaits us. Yes, it will take a period of settling and adapting to new routines, and preparation will be your friend here.
Let me help you get started with this simple guide and don’t forget, you will also find me sharing EVERYDAY IDEAS FOR PLAYING AND LEARNING on my Imagination Tree Instagram resource (Where I often chat with the camera behind the scenes and show you how to do it and set up videos.) I’ll also open the door for you. my private member site for PlayLab parents EARLY so that new members can jump in and have weekly advice, videos, training and materials directly from me. It will be a great stress reliever because I will do a lot of work for you! Go here and register and register your interest now, Ready to open the door in the next few weeks!
Okay, let’s start with our home survival guide!
Depressurize first. You don’t have to be perfect at organizing schedules, fun activities, and learning materials. It will be perfectly fine if some things slip for a while. YOU know your child best and YOU will take good care of him during this period, including his educational development. Their teachers will give you some advice and there are lots of ideas for lifelong learning on the internet. Children are wonderfully adaptable, including the ability to catch up with their learning. It’s not forever!
When in doubt, keep it PLAYING, fun and active As much as possible, because it is a proven best way to learn and store new information. It could look like running around the house and looking for hidden phonemes / looking words against the timer, instead of studying boring worksheets, for example. It will also help them keep them moving as much as possible, which is very important when it is no longer possible to go out.
I RECOMMEND stock up as soon as possible on lots of basic sensory game materials and learning resources.
Everything on this list will come in handy when making game dough, slime, puff pastry, salty dough, colored rice / pasta, fragrant sensory game materials, sensory writing trays and BIG HOURS of creative artistic activities. This combination covers almost all the basics! You can find the recipes themselves in the archives here and in my Sense Invitations for playing cards.
They are cheap, but really useful to keep them handy in closets for days when you want to pull your hair out in frustration! If in doubt, discard everything and confuse!
This list of teaching materials will, of course, depend on the age and stage of your own children, but it covers a good range from around preschoolers to older primary schools. These are versatile resources that can be combined in a variety of ways to learn all kinds through DIY games and activities. You can find the ideas themselves in the archives here (scroll down) and also on my daily updates on the instagram. PlayLab members also get them directly to the membership site.
Planning ahead will also be your friend here. Make a free schedule for weekdays and then don’t forget to plan your sensory playing time and also unlimited. This will help everyone feel calmer and help you relax, because it will put pressure on you to think on your feet. Here is suggested weekly plan for school children. It may look completely different at home and on some days you may miss everything and instead climb trees or have a Harry Potter movie and watch a marathon!
I can’t say exactly how long each session will be, because it will depend on your breakfast and dinner times, but I would imagine about 30 minutes of activity in the morning with 10-15 minute breaks. And then longer sections for free play and creative / science projects in the afternoon. Reading time aloud works really well right after lunch, when they’re still at the table, about half an hour. Of course, it can also be an audiobook!
Plan long periods of play with an open end, peace and creativity. Kids are brilliant in the game, so give them the tools / space / time and let them do it! The sooner they get used to it, the better this part of the day will be.
The best we can do with them is to get them out into nature (unless they show symptoms, of course).
Find open spaces in the countryside, such as nature trails, empty beaches or forests, and let them run freely through the trees, build dens and burn as much energy as possible.
Even if you can’t get out or go beyond your own garden / yard, you may be creative in your movement games.
Organize a mini Olympics, build obstacle courses inside and outside, jump on a trampoline, organize disco dance parties, invent silly walks, play computer dance games, etc.!
Check out children’s yoga online, do stretching or family HITT exercises.
USE SCREEN TIME
Time at the screen is not the enemy, it’s useful tool!
I recommend scheduling it into your daily schedule for when you need a quiet period for your own planning / admin / online shopping / work, etc. You need some space apart to keep your routine (and calm) flowing well.
Watching movies can also be turned into an educational activity by asking them to rate them and fill out movie review sheets! Follow scientific and scientific documents, create projects based on learned topics. Shows like Horrible Historys are a great springboard for fun projects.
This is really important because it helps keep children calm and focused. It’s also a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, which will be very helpful in daily news and worry updates.
Supply with sensory ingredients and devote some time of day to it. If you’re worried about clutter, you can also move your sensory play to the tub or garden to stay better.
Use the checklist above and then find my sensory game invitations full of recipes to help you! (Currently, there are 25% discounts to try to help make them as accessible as possible to everyone.)
Audiobooks will be fantastic during this time, as will reading aloud together. Try reading in a makeshift fortress, dark with torches when they are in the bath or outside.
Find new books and review them for other kids online.
Write a book diary, create bookmarks, create a play corner in the library at home, read each other, read poetry and use all these experiences to inspire you to write.
School-age children can be fantastically independent in their writing projects. Just offer some inspiration with open challenges, such as: write a story / comic / quiz book / poem / book review / information-based project, etc.
As useful and fun as it is, it doesn’t have to look like a “school.” Writing real letters to family members and friends that you can’t see in person will be fun and meaningful.
Older kids could start private YouTube channels and share ideas with their friends online!
Take advantage of countless great resources online. Let them be the learning tool and guide you need.
Keep your art supplies freely available and surprise you with your creative ideas! Save recycling and encourage them to produce city and waste models. homes for their toys / fake aids, etc.
Painting, drawing, sewing, paper pulp, salt dough and clay modeling are all great ongoing projects.
Check out YouTube for tutorials on learning new skills such as crochet, sewing, tie dyeing, weaving, etc.
Play music, show, dress up, create newspaper costumes, paint on your face, do talent shows, learn stop motion animations – the list can be endless!
The cardboard box is endless fun for all ages – just be creative with what you add!
Creativity includes lego, photography, cooking, testing smoothie recipes, organizing baking competitions, creating projects for other children.
Create a lot of art and finally put together an exhibition! Take photos and share them with family members via WhatsApp or online.
So many possible ideas – ask your children what they like best!
This is by far the best that your children can do, especially when they are in balance with their learning time. Give them space to play and plan it for the day.
Make resources available and include lots of free parts to play, because they are open and can be used in countless ways.
You could learn all morning, then for example creative projects, free play and time on screen. This model would work well and be really easy to achieve.
You could set the weeks to have a different focus, such as a talent show to work for one week in the afternoon, a science fair to prepare for the next week, etc.
Get your whole family involved in one of these great games and challenges – it’ll be great for relieving stress and having a lot of fun!
Grow beans, make lava lamps, making sparkling potionsplay with water beads, make slime, etc.
Search Pinterest on for many ways to research the use of household materials!
Design and create your own science fair at home!
I have a lot of ideas in the archives of the Tree of Imagination that will keep you entertained for a long time! Here is a quick list of links to deeper archives:
IDEAS OF PLAYFUL LITERACY here.
PLAYGROUND IDEAS here.
RECIPES SENSORY PLAY here.
SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATIONS here.
CHILD and ACTIVITIES FOR TODDLES here.
Finally, stay in touch with others through phone calls and FaceTime. Encourage each other and share great ideas and tips that you can find online. Let’s keep communicating and laugh at it all and work together, even if we’re physically separated. I hope your elderly loved ones are safe.
If this Home Survival Guide was useful for you, please consider passing it on to others, because it helps me and them. Thank you! X