Tips for parents/carers
We understand that these are difficult times for everyone, not least parents and carers. Splitz has put together some tips, resources and support information to try and help you through these first few weeks.
This situation is unprecedented and our children are as scared as we are right now. They can not only hear what is going on, but they can also feel our constant tension and anxiety. Like us, they have never experienced anything like this before.
Over the coming weeks, you may see changes in your child’s behaviour. Their anxiety and concerns may present as anger, meltdowns or oppositional behaviour. This is normal and to be expected in the current circumstances.
What children need most at this time is to feel safe and loved. Whilst we will give a number of ideas to help you get through this period, and to support you in home-schooling, your child’s mental and emotional wellbeing is the most important thing. As parents and carers, the key is to spend time with our children, reassure them and help them feel safe.
Do give yourself and your children time to adjust to this new phase.
Taking care of yourself
In order to support our children, we must also take of ourselves:
- Practice self-care when you can: you can’t pour from an empty cup. It could be a hot cup of tea in peace, a bubble bath at the end of the day, or trying a 5 minute mindfulness breathing exercise. Have a look here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. This is not ‘home-schooling’ as we would usually know it, which typically involves meeting in groups and much time outside of the house. By all means plan a timetable, but recognise that you or the children may not meet these expectations. If our children have a little more time on screens, it will be okay.
- Get outside: this is important for all our wellbeing. Unless you are self-isolating, you and the children can still go for a walk or bike ride in your locality. Exercise and fresh air will help the whole family.
- Reach out: staying in contact with friends and family will help us all – whether you prefer to talk on the phone, message or video chat, it will help to speak to other adults.
- Keep to a routine: get up at a normal time, get dressed, work and exercise during the day, relax in the evening and go to bed at normal times. This structure is likely to help the whole family.
- Consider taking a break from social media or the news – as this can increase anxiety. This might also be useful for older children and teenagers.
- Track your stress: try to work out your triggers and find ways to avoid them.
- Take it one day at a time.
Practical help – finance and support
- The government has started to put measures in place to support those affected financially by Coronavirus. The ‘entitled to’ website is very helpful for finding out if you may be entitled to further financial support - entitledto.co.uk
- Provision has been put in place to offer mortgage breaks for those who own their own home where required. Speak to your lender for more information.
- If your child is entitled to free school meals, provision has been put in place for this to continue in some form. Different local authorities and schools will have different systems in place, so contact your child’s school for more information.
- Many organisations, such as supermarkets, are now advertising for staff for both temporary and permanent positions.
- Start small. Perhaps reading together, or baking a cake.
- Look for home schooling groups on Facebook and other social media platforms.
- Try to get them outside every day: gardening, exercising, going on a nature walk… Practice social distancing: staying 2 metres apart from other people.
- There are LOADS of ideas on places like Pinterest or Google for activities.
- Write up a timetable with the child/children involved so they feel they have some control. This will help keep a rhythm to the day and some routine, and supports physical and mental wellbeing.
- Have a look for online yoga/exercise videos for children. There is a link below for online PE classes and children’s yoga.
Home-schooling links and resources
In most cases, schools are sending ‘learning packs’ home to support pupils’ ongoing learning. However, here are some additional useful online sites and resources to help at this time:
www.erareteachers.com/virtual-author-activities/ (Read aloud stories etc.)
www.twinkl.co.uk (online resources for home-schooling)
www.thebodycoach.com/blog/pe-with-joe-1254.html (PE lessons - free workout for children via YouTube).
www.bbc.co.uk/learning/coursesearch/ (Whilst an old site, still lots of info on it and resources).
https://scratch.mit.edu/explore/projects/games/ (creative computer programming)
https://mysteryscience.com (Free science lessons)
https://natgeokids.com/uk/ (National Geographic Kids)
http://www.duolingo.com (Learn languages for free).
https://blockly.games (learn computer programming skills).
https://www.phonicsplay.co.uk/ (Help children learn phonics)
https://www.gonoodle.com/ (engages children with movement and mindfulness).
https://www.topmarks.co.uk/ (online games, learning and resources)
https://bitsofpositivity.com/the-ultimate-list-of-free-yoga-pose-printables-for-kids-mindfulness-resources/ (online yoga for children).
There are lots of things you can do to help keep yourself and children entertained and healthy during this period. Here are just a few ideas – many of which encourage learning in a non-traditional way:
- Build sofa forts and dens
- Reading out loud
- Watch films
- Go on a nature walk
- Puddle jumping
- Writing letters to family and friends
- Making pictures to put up in the window
- Do a puzzle or play a board game
- Read a book
- Baking and cooking together
- Watch TV
- Water painting outside (give children water and a brush!)
- Go to the forest
- Look at old photos
- Dance to music
- Use tape on the ground to make games – you could do hopscotch/stepping stones/throwing item in to targets for example
- Remember it doesn’t have to be toys that children need to play – they can have fun with pots and pans, a washing up bowl, your clothes for dressing up, you could google ‘loose parts play’ for some ideas for inside and outside play.
- Set up a pretend shop or school - children can use role play to express any worries they may have and help them make sense of the world.
Supporting your children’s emotional and mental wellbeing
- Encourage your children to stay in contact with friends and family where safe and appropriate. A phone call to grandparents may lift their mood and give you a break.
- There are various online movements to entertain and lift spirits. A good example is ‘Chase the rainbow’, which encourages families to put a rainbow in their windows. This creates a sense of belonging, and means families can try to spot them on walks around their communities. A similar one encourages you to place a teddy in a window so young children can go “on a bear hunt”.
- Play games with your children, spend time with them and keep talking. Give them the chance to talk through their fears and anxieties. This website might help your children understand the current situation in an age appropriate way: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround#more-stories-2
- Keep a routine: children need boundaries to feel safe.
- The NSPCC offer useful advice on coping with tantrums: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/support-for-parents/cope-with-tantrums
- Relate offer useful advice on parenting teenagers: https://www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-family-life-and-parenting/parenting-teenagers