Experienced early childhood educators from VU’s Children’s Centre shared their valuable tips – and resources – for parents and kids. Some will suit your littlies while others are great for tweens and older kids.
1. Go easy on yourself
While your children are always your priority, you’ve taken this great chance to study. As a parent, taking that first step back into studies and focusing on you can be one of the hardest. You've come so far, try not to be self critical if you feel a little out of whack. This is an exercise in resilience that you'll look back on with such pride to have gotten through.
2. Manage expectations & routine
Lots of kids thrive on routine and find comfort in familiarity. Keep snack and lunch times consistent each day with younger kids. 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 and a walk around the neighbourhood collecting potential crafty loot.
5. They’re learning, we promise
Counting worms and digging in the garden – that’s maths and science. While you're not in such a hurry to get out of the house, let younger kids pour their own cereal, or let an older child take to a broken toaster with a screwdriver to keep them 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.