Playground chasey. Music lessons. Sports training. Many activities children undertake in a non-lockdown day develop important skills and abilities. But with out-of-home activities on hold, it is largely up to parents to replace them. One way to engage children in tasks that help them to learn and develop is to create games that build in practice (it’s a bit like hiding veggies in their favourite dish). 😏
So, what can you target? Take a cue from our occupational therapists, speech pathologists, physiotherapists and psychologists.
1. Motor skills: ‘Adventure’ games involving crawling, climbing, balancing and jumping can develop gross motor skills while advancing executive function, which helps children to follow instructions and rules. Help them to create a maze or obstacle course using household items such as chairs (e.g. to crawl under) and storage tins or water bottles to weave around. Check for hazards or risks and that activities are supervised.
2. Numeracy: For earlier learners, consider indoor 10-pin bowls using empty water bottles, cans or plastic cups as pins and a tennis ball. Not only will children need to count how many pins fall, but they will need to keep score (if there is only one child, join in to create a fun competition element and encourage turn-taking). This activity also assists with hand-eye coordination. For older learners, cooking involves many numbers-based tasks such as measuring out quantities and monitoring timers. Make sure any tasks involving a stove or oven are performed by an adult.
3. Mental health: Helpful ways to support mental health may include encouraging (and/or supervising) physical activity, from trampolining and backyard cricket to riding a bike around the park. For more than one child, encourage ‘together’ activities. For only children, help them to feel connected to peers, from carefully-chosen multi-player online games to tea party FaceTimes.
If you’re worried about a child’s play or development during lockdown, our children’s experts are here to help.