'I'm bored!': Keeping kids occupied, active during COVID-19 outbreak
3/24/2020 by Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin
You're doing your part to help contain the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) by keeping the kids at home. But as parents and other caregivers are discovering, the novelty of not going to school, being with friends and engaging in sports is wearing off for their kids. Across America, parents already are hearing the dreaded, "I'm bored!" and seeing teens turn into social media zombies.
What's a parent to do? The American Academy of Pediatrics offers some tips for finding creating ways to keep everyone calm, healthy and engaged in constructive work and play.
- Make a plan. Talk with your kids about what your daily structure will be for getting up, meals, telework, schoolwork and breaks to relax, play and connect.
- Use social media for good! Check in with neighbors, friends and loved ones. If schools are closed, find out if there are ways to help students who need meals or internet access for at-home learning. Set up video chats to stay in touch.
- Select what your child watches. Use trusted sources to find positive content, such as Common Sense Media, which as been compiling lots of ideas for families hunkering down right now. Use media together.
- Bring your child to "work". For parents working from home, this is a chance to show kids a part of what you do. Encourage imaginative "work" play as for a Take Your Child to Work Day without ever leaving home.
- Search out podcasts and audiobooks. These are great ways to keep children's minds engaged while parents get things done.
- Go offline. Take walks outside, play board games, read together, have family dance parties, bake, make crafts, teach your child a new skill such as knitting or carpentry. Share your ideas with other families.
- Engage with your community — from a distance. Invite families who live around you to join in activities — at a safe distance. Some ideas: concerts or dance parties in your own front yard, sing-alongs, sidewalk chalk art galleries that walkers can enjoy.
- PBS Kids. Geared toward preschoolers, PBS Kids sends out a daily newsletter with show and activity ideas.
- Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia). Tour the museum's artwork online.
- Walker Art Center. Take a virtual tour of the Walker's Sculpture Garden and its art collections.
- Minnesota Marine Museum. View highlights of the museum's water-themed collection.
- Minnesota Children's Museum. Check out the resources for parents and caregivers.
- Science Museum of Minnesota. SMM is building a library of resources to help families explore science at home.
- Wildlife cams. Want to watch what wildlife does when it's home? Search "wildlife cams" in your computers browser. Start with Mayo Clinic's Falcon Cam or the National Eagle Center's Eagle Cam.
- Kiddominds. This crowd-sourced website is loaded with creative ideas from planning an indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt to stories for learning Spanish.
- Home Safari Live. Join this Facebook event every day at 2 p.m. CDT or watch the video later. From the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.
- Active games. From Simon Says to Duck, Duck, Goose the games will delight pre-schoolers, as well as their older sibs.
- NatGeo for Kids. Learn about geography and fascinating animals.
- Storyline Online. Movie stars read favorite stories to kids.
- Fun Brain. Games for reading and math skills for grades K through eight.
Despite the challenges — and worries —this can also be a time for your family to start new traditions, try new experiences, discover new activities and even look back on in years to come as a special time for all of you.
Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin is a pediatrician with Primary Care in Rochester/Kasson's Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM). She has a strong interest in child advocacy and media effects on children. She serves as chair of the national American Academy of Pediatric's (AAP) Council on Communications and Media and is on the board of the Minnesota chapter of the AAP. She also holds a master's in Public Health and serves as director of the Pediatric Resident Continuity Clinic.