Making the most of family time

Families are probably spending more time together during this pandemic than we ever have before. How do we make the best of that time together and build positive memories for ourselves and for our children? Chloe McGinty who is a Family Support Worker with Springboard Family Support Project offers some ideas in the booklet ‘Parenting through Covid-19 – helpful hints to keep home life happy’ which is produced by the team at Springboard and Finn Valley FRC. You can download the booklet here https://www.cypsc.ie/_fileupload/Documents/Resources/Donegal/FVFRC%20-%20Parenting%20through%20Covid%2019%20Booklet%202.pdf

Making the most of family time

Social distancing has provided us with an opportunity for more family time. While these restrictions have brought great disruption to our lives, we can use this time to keep our children safe, and provide them with support to maintain their happiness. It can allow us to further strengthen relationships with our children and families.

This gift of time is not about making comparisons to friends, family and
neighbours. While some will bake beautiful cakes, make a wooden play house or complete all their school work, some will simply watch a movie, draw a picture or read a book. This is your time and your family. This is not a competition about productivity or success. It’s likely that you are doing more as a family now without realising; maybe eating together for meals or simply being in each other’s company.

It is a time to get to know each other, our likes/dislikes, our hobbies and interests and what gets on our nerves. Ignore the detailed daily schedules and do what works best for you as a family. We have no control over the re-opening of schools, crèches or sports clubs. If you are cooking and cleaning a lot, you are not alone. A few months ago a large number of us parents could be heard moaning about the school lunches, school collections and Mum’s/Dad’s taxi to and from afterschool activities. We have more time to
teach our children how to help or to learn how to use a hoover or empty the bins. These are life skills that they can bring with them in to their adult life, even if they will never do it just the way we would.

We have a responsibility as parents to provide love, reassurance and security. Our children will display challenging behaviours that could very likely be a result of the worries and emotions that they cannot manage alone. Let’s not be hard on them or ourselves.

Why not involve your children in the daily plans. Take one day at a time. Ask your children what they would like to do and make a plan together.

Go back to basics, this time at home doesn’t summons you to learn a new language or invent a new gadget. Enjoy the sunshine, nature, family, music, dancing and imagination. Be careful of the time spent on social media as a parent. Be mindful of the conversations we are having in front of the children. Model the behaviour we want. Try to remain positive, despite the doubts and fears we face about life returning to “normal”. The more positive you can be; the more valuable the family time will be.

Take care of yourself; children are watching how you are coping. The simple but wonderful opportunity we have to play with our children can allow us to forget, for a moment the seriousness of the world around us.

You can get more handy hints to keep home life happy here

https://www.cypsc.ie/_fileupload/Documents/Resources/Donegal/FVFRC%20-%20Parenting%20through%20Covid%2019%20Booklet%202.pdf

 

Let’s Play – Ideas for Families

Let’s Play – Ideas for Families

Published: 24 April 2020
From: Department of Children and Youth Affairs

While there are lots of ideas around for different age groups, here are some ideas that the whole family can enjoy together:

  • have a movie night, choose a movie together and add some popcorn
  • play a game of chess, dominoes, jacks or card games
  • try a board game – they can be great fun!
  • how about a dance mat or playing a game on the Wii
  • ping pong, air hockey, tennis, darts, pool or snooker
  • have a pamper night with facemasks, foot soaks and hand massages
  • if you have a ‘gamer’ in the house – play together. Teens find it hilarious to see how bad their parents are at gaming!
  • go outside – play some football, frisbee, dodgeball, piggy in the middle or stuck in the mud or go for a walk at night (within 2km of your home). You’ll be amazed at what fun can be had!
  • share some of your old traditional games – kerbsie, two ball, kick-the-can, skipping
  • have a picnic, cook a meal together, or plan a BBQ. Sleep outside!

You can find out more about play on the Let’s Play Ireland website  https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/lets-play-ireland/

Let’s Play Ideas

Here is another good piece from the Government website Let’s Play Ireland  https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/lets-play-ireland/

Published: 24 April 2020
From: Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Here are some ideas for play that cost very little:

  • take out frustration by squashing pillows or stamping cardboard boxes until they are flat
  • draw pictures on card and cut them into jigsaw puzzles
  • set up pretend shops, schools, kitchens, banks, post offices, beauty salons, hospitals and cafes
  • collect and sort things to play with in water, supervising young children
  • make dens, shelters and cubby holes
  • play at dressing up, put on shows, make up soap operas and dramas
  • reuse old/dead plant pots to make a small indoor garden, planting seeds and watching them grow
  • invent new board games

There are lots of things around most people’s homes that can be played with. Although you might think play means games and toys, children can play with lots of things that encourage their imagination and ingenuity. For example, things like cardboard boxes or old sheets can be played with in different ways.

Here are some ideas of things you can find around the house for your child to play with:

  • sheets, duvets, pillows, old clothes
  • chairs, tables, cardboard boxes
  • pots, pans, wooden spoons
  • papers, chalk, balloons, paint
  • string, elastic bands, pegs, paper clips
  • tins and cans from the cupboard

You can also offer your child some of the things that are often thrown away or recycled.

Here’s a link to the First 5 parents page for ideas on play and learning for younger children.

Here’s a link to the NCN Play Hub on Facebook for daily ideas on play and activities.

You might want to record this time in your family using the COVID-19 Time Capsule.

Here are great resources from our friends in Play Scotland:

Messy Play Book 1

Messy Play Book 1

Messy Play Book 2

Messy Play Book 2

Loose Parts

Loose Parts

Experimental Play

Experimental Play

 

Fifty Key Messages: Baby see, Baby do

Playing with your infant

Parents of children aged birth to 3 years:

Put some time aside to play with your child.  Your child will move from ‘exploring objects’ to imitating you, to pretending to be you (Baby See, Baby do – this is role modelling).  This is a great step forward in your child’s development as it indicates that they recognise you as somebody separate from themselves and somebody important that has separate feelings and thoughts about things.

Playing:

  • Play ‘copy my face’ with young babies. Babies only a few hours old will try to copy some of your actions like sticking out your tongue.
  • For a younger child, hold a mirror in front of their face and watch their reactions.
  • For an older child, give the mirror (preferably a light plastic framed one) and watch how they view themselves.
  • Get close to a younger child – Play ‘clap a clap a handies’ and watch baby’s attempts to copy you.
  • Put some time aside to play with your child. Role model building blocks and other games, but do not ‘correct’ the child if they cannot do exactly like you. It is important to let them learn at their own pace, but role modelling will help them develop.
  • Use correct names for items, such as soother, bottle, etc – this will promote language development.

To find out more about the Key Messages to support your parenting see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/0-5years/

Number Fun!

What’s the number of the day?

Here’s a fun way to introduce the idea that numbers stand for a quantity. It can be an introduction to numbers for young children and a practice session for older learners.

To start, pick a number for the day. Let’s say it’s three. So, for today, look for the number three in headlines, books, articles, signs, and so on. Point these out to your child and tell her, “There’s a three.” If you’re getting ready to eat cookies or grapes, count out three and say, “Here are three grapes: one, two, three.”

During the time you’re together, look for natural places where the number will occur: three buttons on a sweater, three birds sitting on a wire, three fingers, three people at a bus stop. Point out groups of three wherever you see them.

Don’t expect perfection and don’t hold a quiz at the end of the day. Just enjoy this little game of counting, looking, listening, and matching, wherever you are. In a few days, pick another number and start over. It’s the way kids learn.

The GROWING TOGETHER NEWSLETTER is issued by; GROWING CHILD Inc., and is distributed free, courtesy of: THE LIFESTART FOUNDATION, 2, Springrowth House, Balliniska Rd., Springtown Ind. Estate, L’Derry BT48 OGG Tel: 028 71365363. Fax: 028 71365334. E-mail: headoffice@lifestartfoundation.org Web Site: www.lifestartfoundation.org

5 Entertaining and Educational Rainy-Day Activities for Kids

What do you do when bad weather has your family cooped up indoors? Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to keep your kids entertained and educate them at the same time! The internet is full of handy resources, from children’s exercise videos to online music lessons, that can provide endless ideas for indoor fun. Here are some great activities to keep kids (and yourself!) entertained when the stormy weather strikes.

Get Dancing

Kids love to dance. So, what’s better than encouraging them to get some physical activity by dancing to music videos in the living room? Play their favorite songs and let them go wild, or hop on YouTube and pull up some videos that teach children popular dance moves. You can even find plenty of children’s exercise videos online that your kids can follow along with. Alternatively, children’s yoga videos are a great way to calm them down.

Bring Out the Little Musician in Them

Thanks to the internet, you no longer have to enroll your child in expensive music lessons when they want to learn an instrument. There are tutorials on YouTube that can teach you to play almost any song on any instrument. You can also look up fun children’s games that can teach kids the fundamentals of music theory and help them learn to read sheet music. There are even programs available to help with ear training so your kids can learn to pick out the notes in a song and sing in tune.

Encourage Their Creativity

Drawing and painting are wonderful pastimes for kids that provide more mental benefits than you may think. According to The Artful Parent, art contributes to fine motor development and helps kids enhance their problem-solving skills. It’s also a valuable way for kids to process the world around them and express their feelings. There are many videos and free online art classes that can teach kids the basics of perspective, shading, and color mixing. These can help give kids greater confidence to continue their love for art as they grow older.

Practice Maths with Real-Life Applications

Parents are always looking for ways to help supplement the education their children are receiving in school. Practicing maths at home by applying concepts to real-life situations is a great way to do this. This can help children discover the importance and usefulness of maths in their lives. For example, Imagine Learning recommends taking your kid to the grocery store and encouraging them to estimate the total cost of all your groceries before you reach the checkout.

You can also use a rainy day as an excuse to get your kids in the kitchen. While baking with your kids, teach them the maths involved in measuring, multiplying or dividing recipes to produce more or less food, converting measurements, understanding ratios, and calculating cooking times. You can also find online games that focus on the real-world applications of mathematics.

Break Out the Science Experiments

Being stuck inside is also a great opportunity to turn your kitchen into a science lab. Learning science through hands-on experiments encourages kids to be curious and to test their hypotheses about the world. For example, you can try making a glass of lava that resembles an old-school lava-lamp with just a few items you probably already have in your kitchen. This can teach your kids about the interactions between common household objects.

 

The next time it rains, be prepared with various activities to keep your kids from getting restless. Take advantage of rainy days to educate your kids while providing hours of entertainment. This is also a great way to bond with your family and have some fun yourself!

(Our thanks to Jenny Wise http://specialhomeeducator.com/ for this great article!)