Boy with building blocks
Boy with building blocks

Ideas to occupy primary school aged kids while working from home

Caring for kids while working from home creates a very stressful environment for parents.

Need to know

Caring for kids while working from home creates a very stressful environment for parents. There is enough pressure to perform in a job without the guilt of ensuring the kids have limited screen time, a balanced diet and physical exercise.

Why it’s important

Primary school aged kids can be fairly independent, but they still require help and regular connection with a parent to manage getting through the day with minimal supervision. Splitting your time between Zoom calls and caring for your child can be made much easier with a little bit of planning.

Tips & strategies

Prepare your child – the night before discuss the game plan for the next day and get your child’s buy in. You want to address any possible issues early so that you aren’t dealing with upset kids while you are working. Write out a simple list with activities that your child can refer to the next day to prevent anxiety of what to do next.

Plan ahead – have clothes set out, breakfast, snacks and lunch in containers ready to go the night before so the kids can help themselves throughout the day.

Exercise first – you might not have many opportunities to ensure everyone gets exercise during the day so it’s best to get the whole family out for a neighbourhood walk/scooter/bike ride before work starts. If you take a long lunch break or finish work while it is still light outside, use this time to do outdoor activities.

Regular check-ins – review your workdays and plan for a 10 minute break every hour to check in on your child before they need to interrupt. Go one step further and book those times into your diary to avoid having colleagues schedule overlapping meetings.

Fun stations – set up 3 activity areas to engage your child for at least 20 minutes each. These “fun stations” can have 2-3 different challenges depending on how much time you have to plan. Cycle through one challenge per station to keep it interesting. These are some examples but you can find many more online.

Station 1 – Lego masters

  • Challenge 1 – build a Robot
  • Challenge 2 – make a building with only the colours blue and white
  • Challenge 3 – create a car that can fly

Station 2 – Art & craft

  • Challenge 1 – make a card for an upcoming birthday, Father’s Day or Mother’s Day.
  • Challenge 2 – design a collage of your favourite animal using magazine cut outs, print outs and stickers
  • Challenge 3 – create Christmas ornament made out of air dry clay

Station 3 – Science – see links in the references section at the bottom of the article

  • Challenge 1 – write an invisible ink message using lemon juice on paper
  • Challenge 2 – make your own sundial using a pencil and rocks 
  • Challenge 3 – build a marshmallow and toothpick structure. Connect the toothpicks to the marshmallows and see how big you can make your structure

Talk to your boss – the pandemic has affected everyone in one way or another and your boss is probably aware that flexibility is important to getting things done. Pending time sensitivities, you can request to take a break in the middle of the day and make up the time in the evening.

And lastly, it’s ok to let kids watch TV when you know you have an urgent deadline or long meeting, it’s all about balance and getting through the day. 

References

https://www.madaboutscience.com.au/shop/science-extra/post/invisible-ink
https://branchmuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Marshmallow-Toothpick-Engineering-Challenge.pdf

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