Experienced early childhood educators from VU’s Children’s Centre shared their valuable tips – and resources – for parents and kids of all ages. Some will suit your littlies while others are great for tweens and older kids.
1. Cut yourself some slack
While your children are your priority, you’ve taken this great chance to study so don’t let it go! This too shall pass. It's a massive exercise in resilience that you'll be so proud to get through.
2. Routine and expectations
Lots of kids thrive on routine and find comfort in familiarity. Keep snack and lunch times consistent each day. A meal together can be a chance for a family to ‘reset’, let go of any stresses from earlier in the day and start afresh.
3. Take regular breaks
This is particularly important if you live in a small house. Make this part of your routine so you’ll stick to it – and so the kids will hold you to it!
4. Do things that aren’t ‘special’
It doesn’t have to be all papier-mâché and baking cupcakes. Ordinary activities are great – kids typically just want to be near you and may enjoy washing the dishes or vacuuming. If you’re allowing kids to have devices, balance it with fresh air – go find those bears and rainbows in the neighbourhood.
5. They’re learning, I promise you!
Don’t worry about curriculum with younger kids. Counting worms and digging in the garden – that’s maths and science. Give them independence. Let young kids pour their own cereal (with portions measured out), or let an older child take to a broken toaster with a screwdriver to keep busy.
6. Limit choices
Don’t bring out new activities constantly. If you’re providing tasks, give them one choice (or let them take ‘pot luck’) and try to keep them focused on one activity at a time.
7. Save your aces
Try and prepare the night before and have a few aces up your sleeve. Save the best activities or treats for when you need them most – just as a Zoom lecture’s about to start or you need to hit the books.
8. Keep up emotional learning
A lot of play-based learning is encouraged by peer engagement. Help kids stay connected and communicating through regular video catch-ups with friends and family.
9. It’s cubby time!
Grab a bunch of sheets, blankets and cushions – cubby time is almost a guaranteed time-buyer. Serve lunch in there and throw in a pile of books, dolls, bedding or Lego. Don’t underestimate the power of turning a kitchen table into a tent!
10. Engage a little, gain a lot
If you can 100% engage with kids even for short periods, they’ll fill their attention tank and stop pestering for longer so you’ll get more done.