Indoor Physical Activities
Allison’s third recommendation is to schedule some “easy indoor activities.” We would specifically recommend that this indoor activity be physical (involving some movement of the body). By making the activity physical, we are encouraging our children to burn off some pent-up energy (from being “stuck at home”)—and this is a good way to reduce some of the stress and anxiety. In alignment with Allison’s own suggestions, we would suggest building a fort, house or spaceship out of big cardboard boxes (to be obtained from a moving company or truck rental business). A whole lot of fun and activity—complete with fantasy and some new learning.
What about a bit of marching around the table (used to be done in listening to the morning radio show)? You might also spend a bit of money: perhaps setting up a ping-pong table in the garage or an air hockey game in the basement. Finally, you could consider the most obvious form of indoor exercise: dancing!! Put on music that inspires your kids to dance – whatever their age. And you might join in.
Reading is the fourth recommendation made by Allison. This is another great idea. The nature and duration of the reading, of course, differs with age. You might even consider reading to your kids or having them read to you. In the “good old days” (before television) many families spent some time (at least one evening each week) with some members of the family reading from a favorite family book—preferably with popcorn or pie ala mode being served in front of a roaring fire. You might even reach out for some outside assistance: many public libraries are now offering reading services as well as Internet access to digital books.
We would also suggest that you consider supplementing the reading of books with watching instructional sessions available on PBS (for younger children) and from such sources as The Teaching Company and Coursera (for the older children). The video alternative might be particularly appropriate for learning during the evening.
Allison’s final recommendation concerns “screen-time” – that “evil” propensity of children (at all ages) to turn their attention to television and (increasingly) their hand-held communication devices. This recommendation is filled with many pulls and pushes. If we restrict screen time to a certain number of minutes or hours per day, then the screen time will become that much more attractive and more frequently a source of contention (or at least negotiation). That which is in scarce supply or is subject to restricted access becomes very attractive. This is one of the sad but true facts of life regarding human motivation and behavior.
Yet, we do need to restrict the screen time—for it will be a temptation for children (of all ages) to fill their time at home sitting in front of the television or spending hours texting their friends or playing games on their device. This reaching out to friends is very understandable and desirable—and there is nothing wrong with a little digital-game diversion. The key point is that we must balance off screen time with the other activities we mentioned above. If the other activities are attractive, then screen time is likely to be less compelling.
And we can always be creative and exploratory in finding digitally mediated games that are educational. We can encourage our children to engage in collaborative activities with their friends that are filled with rich new learning. How about encouraging your child and her friends to write an on-ling newsletter that is shared with other members of their peer network? Perhaps, the search for bird species could be extended to include friends as well as family members: new species might even be photographed (with cell phones) and sent to everyone in the network. Or the peer network can be engaged so that each member of the network is watching the same movie or education program. Discussion among network members can follow the viewing. Even a fantasy film (such as Black Panther) can generate very interesting and intense dialogue that is filled with new learning for all participants.
- Posted by Bill Bergquist
- On March 30, 2020
- 0 Comment