Summer this year is not the same for many children, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) has put a wrench in a lot of activities in which they would normally participate, such as family trips, the traditional camps or vocational bible schools.
Although the Government has relaxed some COVID restrictions and is allowing the opening of summer camps, some parents have chosen to have their children forego these group activities out of a heightened sense of precaution.
In addition, some camp organsiers have opted to keep their doors closed due to lack of space to allow for social distancing.
Overseas travel, which many families would look forward to during the summer months, has also been put on hold.
As a result, many busy parents are challenged to come up with COVID-19-friendly activities that their kids will enjoy.
Chief Executive Officer of the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC), Kaysia Kerr, tells JIS News that there are many fun and creative ways to keep children engaged and entertained while social distancing.
She says that persons with big backyards can use the space to play sports with their children and get them involved in backyard gardening.
“I think the more you do things that are outdoors the better it is for your children, as opposed to having them cooped up inside with the tablets and other electronic devices,” she says.
“So the idea is to create fun activities with the family on the outside of the home,” Ms. Kerr says.
She further recommends playing board games such as monopoly, and reading.
“Reading can be a fun activity. There are many adventures that you can go on through reading, so it would be a good time to introduce your children to books and stories that have adventures,” she says.
Ms. Kerr says that parents can also plan family movie time at home.
“Create that experience at home so they won’t miss the movie theatre. You’re creating that experience where you’re watching a really good family movie that’s fun and exciting and takes your children on a good adventure. Everybody can watch and perhaps even talk about the lessons in the movie to see what could be applicable,” she notes.
Ms. Kerr says beach trips are also a good idea, as long as the safety protocols are being observed.
The NPSC head says that in planning activities, parents and guardians should focus on fostering their children’s creativity instead of buying things for them.
“Just by design, children are so imaginative and creative and once you put them in an environment where they can be creative it’s amazing what they will come up with. A feature, especially of the smaller children, is to make up their own stories and imaginary friends,” she notes.
“What we need to do is to foster that, so where you see children making up stories and making up games, you can have them record these stories whether by writing or using a recording device or get involved in the creative process, and add to the story.
“So whether the creativity comes from their drawings, making up their own songs, making up poems, that should be facilitated as opposed to putting pressure on yourself as parents to go [and buy] things that other people created,” she adds.
As parents and guardians find ways to keep their children occupied and creatively engaged this summer, Ms. Kerr says it is important to continue to have discussions with them about the pandemic and ensuring that they observe the proper safety protocols.
“It is a different time and so there are boundaries and limitations. Those talks need to be had because children must understand that it can’t be business as usual.
“And we have to give them a little more credit too; they will understand that we are going through a pandemic and we have to do it differently,” she says.