Helping Our Youngest Children Continue to Learn at Home

 

Some simple steps you can take to set up a routine at home with children 0-5

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, many schools and childcare locations have been temporarily closed and it has left parents and caregivers wondering how to balance being at home and continuing the development of their children.

Although it can feel overwhelming, it’s helpful to remember that play and interaction is a form of learning. Through play, our youngest children develop social and cognitive skills, and can gain self-confidence to try new experiences and explore new environments.

Don’t forget to check out the extremely helpful video at the bottom from Dr. Barbara Stroud, or click here to view the original in YouTube.

LET’S START WITH SOME SIMPLE WAYS TO PLAN OUT THE DAY

Planning out a schedule can help to ease some anxiety and allow everyone to feel reassured by routine (adults and children). Remember, if your children have been at child care, or school, they are used to the routine and a simple, flexible schedule will help their day feel structured.

Here is a simple routine that you can use as a reference point for how to set up your day. Feel free to adjust the times and order to suit your needs. Example: if your little one is used to taking a nap after lunch, move an activity earlier, and slide things around. Give yourself the freedom to adjust the day as it develops and find comfort that the routine is flexible.

Looking for activities? Here you’ll find a list of activities that are perfect for each age of early childhood, from the baby years on into the beginnings of grade school.

LISTEN TO HOW THEY EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS

Your children are communicating with you the second they are born. “As children develop, they learn to speak and use language,” says Ruta Rosset, Speech and Language Pathologist. From smiles and coos, to single words and full sentences, stay mindful of how are children are communicating with us. Click here to find a summary of the expressive language skills children age 0-5 generally attain at key milestones in their development.

INCLUDE A VARIETY

Let’s also acknowledge that all children learn and explore in a variety of ways, and have different needs and resources. Homes with multiple children of different ages and abilities also have to consider what is best for the individual child. In creating a daily routine, try and include a mixture of activities: inside, outside, reading and fine motor skills, music and play. Also, include some down time for rest and relaxation and allow children to explore independently—it can be extremely valuable and confidence building.

RELY ON EXISTING RESOURCES AVAILABLE ONLINE
(But be mindful of screen time – spoiler alert, we address this next)

First 5 California has FREE online activities for babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers. As well as at-home activity suggestions like how to build an obstacle course, or create your own music. Find the perfect activity for children at all stages from 0-5

PBS also has great FREE online resources, including games that talk about feelings, teamwork, counting, and much more.

BE MINDFUL OF SCREEN TIME

Even with a lot of amazing online resources being available, it is not suggested that children remain in front of screens for long periods of time (especially children under the age of 2). The day should be focused on a healthy balance of activities to keep children occupied. Here is a video from the Washington Post on a healthy balance of screen time.

STICK TO WHAT IS FAMILIAR

It’s always helpful to stick with what feels familiar for yourself, and the children. Having the same wake-up time, snack time, play time, nap time, etc., will help the children feel like it is their typical routine. And remember to ask the children for some input. They are more likely to stay engaged if the activities revolve around their interests.

VIDEO: COVID-19 Tips for Parents from Dr. Barbara Stroud

HERE ARE SOME MORE TIPS AND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: