When our president, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced the other day that the schools will be closing down, even though I knew it was bound to happen, I still felt a little unprepared. I mean, as a single mom, this means looking after my little one, while still trying to pay the bills. I am sure if you are all in the same boat, you understand what I mean.
I always need to write everything down, so the first thing I did was take out my diary and draft what my days would start to look like (ideally). This meant taking into account the different possibilities.
Luckily I have always been an enthusiastic mother when it comes to fun activities, and I’m sorry, but I am going to have to force you to become one – if this is not your natural inclination. I particularly worry when children have to spend too much time in front of the television without mental stimulation. I hope that is a worry for most of us. A lot of times, as mothers, we tend to revert to this method of entertainment for one reason, and I know because I do that all the time. The main reason is that we do not want to be bothered. And television, fortunately, or unfortunately, as we all know tends, to achieve that for us.
With the schools shutting down, my biggest worry for my son was that he would stagnate in his academic growth, and I was willing to do everything I can not to allow that to happen. Luckily for the first week, the school provided us with some work for them to do, which was really helpful, and I am grateful that we have continued to receive more ideas from the school group which I had to take very seriously. If you are not part of a school or mother’s WhatsApp group, I would strongly suggest that you find one or create one with your close friends who have children. Use it as a way of sharing ideas on what to do with your children. I believe that when one sees what other mothers are doing with their kids, it has a way of keeping us motivated and I must say, conviction strikes if your child is not doing anything related to his/her school work.
This blog is about what I have been doing so far to continue to stimulate my son academically and some ideas that you could perhaps take home. Before you do anything, I believe that it is vital to understand your child. Is your child an early riser or a late riser? My son is up every single day no later than 6 am. For me, this means that I need to be up earlier than him. I am always up at 5 am to prepare myself, mentally, in terms of what to do for the day.
He is always in his good spirits in the mornings, and I always found that I could get more out of him in the mornings rather than in the afternoons – when he tends to be more playful. I also found that it is better to prepare everything that you plan to achieve with him/her on that particular day. I am a very structured person and if I do not prepare, I am often all over the place and not very productive. So I guess, it is true that you ought to know yourself in this whole process.
Here are my top ideas of what you and your child could be getting up to, during #THELOCKDOWN
- Reading –
My son is still learning to read, so I’ve had to find some easy books (Level 1) for him to practice his reading. I have to spend at least 15 – 30 minutes with him doing this, in case he gets stuck, otherwise, he does not stop screaming “MOM!!”all the time. He has always been a Dr. Seuss fanatic. It has been great to see that he is starting to read some of the books on his own. The more he practices, the better it gets. So I would suggest that you pile up on those books and allow him to continue reading, even if it’s just one book per day. If you did not or were not able to get books beforehand – I would suggest that you subscribe to one of the readings sites like http://www.ABCMouse.com or https://www.audible.com/ which offers a lot of material for the children.
2. Resources –
Find some suitable activities on https://ar.pinterest.com/. Don’t get me wrong – these do require some preparation and lots of work, which you can do at night while he or she is sleeping so that he or she can wake up to the new things in the morning. These activities will stimulate your child mentally, physically, spiritually and improve their logic and gross and motor skills depending on what activities you choose. I don’t know about your child, but my son is always excited by new activities and new things to do. So do take advantage of that enthusiasm.
3. Puzzles and 3D –
I find these to be able to kill at least 45 minutes of the day depending on the complexity. I realized the other day that I need to invest in more of the advanced puzzles as my son has already mastered the ones I provided. If your child is not into puzzles, I would suggest that you encourage him/her to get into it.
4. Board Games and Fun Games –
Invest in a few board games that allow him/her to think on the ball. This is probably something that we need to do more of in the near future. We have started playing naughts and crosses and my son has really enjoyed it. Be creative – come up with your own games at times, or better yet, allow them to come up with their own games.
It is almost Easter time and I have always enjoyed the treasure hunts that come with this season. Have you bought your Easter eggs yet? If not, it’s okay, think of some treasures that you can hide and allow your child to run around your house searching for them. Make it fun, give them clues to follow and enjoy the rewards together. We plan to do this in the next few days.
5. Lego Challenge –
One of the mothers on the school group posted a Lego challenge calendar which I thought was exciting and so did my son. I printed it out and put it on the wall, and every single day it gives him a challenge to build. He’s already made a roller-coaster, a robot and the likes. This can also keep them busy for at least 30 minutes in the day.
6. Spelling word –
Your child can learn new words during the lockdown. I have made a note of all the words that he struggles with as I listen to him read. And it has been interesting to see how he recognizes the word better once he has had the chance to practice. So I suggest that you listen to your child while he reads, and then make a note of all the words he/she struggles with and write them in his practice book and allow him to re-write those words daily.
7. Mathematics –
I once bumped into some math practice books which were going at a very meagre rate, and I bought quite a bunch of them. My son was still young then, but he has nicely adapted to the books, and he knows what is expected of him. So, everyday we just do one page to keep him thinking mathematically.
8. Screen time –
Unfortunately, we cannot run from this, but I would suggest that you download some educational apps for your child. My son struggled a bit with his phonics in the beginning. I saw the benefit of having an app that re-enforced the sounds of the alphabets. Stay away from the normal ABCs. Get your child to only learn phonic sounds as a foundation- which will make it easier for him/her to learn how to read over time.
9. Baking or cooking together –
When it’s time to prepare lunch or dinner, my son has always been enthusiastic about doing it with me. It is not always convenient, but I would suggest that at least once a week, do try and plan that you cook or bake together.
10. Social time –
We have his cousin visiting right now and it is essential that he still grows socially as well. So, I allow them to play together for parts of the day.
Spend some time together – at the end of the busy week, do relax, make some hot chocolate with marshmallows, grab some popcorn, wear your fun socks and cuddle in bed and choose a nice kiddies movie that you can watch together and enjoy.
11. Coloring and painting –
I walked into the PNA the other day and saw some fascinating painting ideas and the materials to create our own masterpieces. But I think since we are limited in terms movement, one can easily print out some clip-arts that he/she might be interested in at the time and allow him/her to paint them. This should keep them busy for about 15 – 20 mins.
12. Music and Dance –
I am a very musical person, and I try to encourage my son to enjoy music and instruments. You often find us just dancing to music, and this is really fun for us. I would encourage you to do that with your children, especially the material about God. I believe music can create a strong foundation in a child when it comes to them knowing who God is. For example, I still remember some of the songs we used to sing, in Sunday school when I was young. Therefore I believe that it’s got the potential to plant a seed. A friend of mine recently suggested Colin Buchanan. I was surprised to see the amount of material he has written that is available for the children. So do check him out.
13. Dedicate spending time with the Lord –
Most importantly; God says in His word “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). My son has always loved bible stories, and he has subscribed to a channel on YouTube called The Holy Tales. Every night, we tune into one of the shows, about 5 minutes long, and then we discuss the story. His favorite has always been Noah and the Ark, and we have watched it many a time. We also have the Junior Bible which we have read from beginning to end a couple of times.
I firmly believe that our children need to engage with God in His word continuously so do keep encouraging them to read His Word daily and ideally you should do this with your child, so that you can explain to them what they need to know. At the end of our discussion, I do encourage him to pray. Especially in these trying times, I have seen that COVID19 can instill some kind of fear in our children, and that is why in my next blog I will be addressing how we can talk about COVID19 with our children. I look forward to publishing that in the next few days.
Lastly, as we remember the death and resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ, this coming Easter weekend, I suggest that you look for some online videos being shared by your church that your children can tune into leading to the holy weekend. We have been following Passion Church kids and Pastor Louie Giglio started going through his Indescribable book for the kids and my son really enjoyed his session this past weekend. Follow your church and their children’s materials as we remember the cross of Jesus Christ.
It is also not too late to pick up a Lent Calendar that is readily available on the internet. This will keep you focused on Jesus as we approach the Easter Weekend.
Now these are just some of the ideas that I have and you might be wondering how and when you will find the time to do it all. Well, one cannot do all this in one day. So I would suggest that you design a calendar that spreads these out nicely, so that you can make sure you cover everything in the week. This planning will ensure you still have time to do your work and pay those bills. That is if you are working from home at this time. If you are not working from home, then I’m assuming that you will have more time on your hands to get through all these. Having support from the family you live with does play a significant role, as you can easily alternate these responsibilities with them- if they are willing.
If you would like for me to send you some of the links and materials that I have gathered over time, please do leave your email address in the comments section, and I will gladly forward that through to you.
Thank you once again for reading this article. I trust that it will add value in your daily lives as we face these challenging times.
The Lord bless you and keep you!