Amidst the outbreak of COVID 19, the resulting school cancellations, and the need to distance ourselves from others, comes the obvious question of most parents, “What in the world are we going to do for the next couple of weeks?” For many older children, increased screen time during school shutdowns will be a necessity to keep up with classroom instruction, and it’s also a way for them to interact with friends whom they won’t get to spend as much time with. Given that we are facing a pandemic, these alternatives are the next best thing to being there, and probably a safer bet.
However, what works for older kids isn’t always best for preschoolers. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children between the ages of 2 to 5 only have one hour of screen time each day. This might present a challenge to parents who unexpectedly have kids at home, and still have to get their own work done. Here are a few suggestions to keep the little ones occupied without overdoing on screen time.
Have your child help you work: Set up a makeshift desk for your child next to where you work, and give him an assignment. Ask him to practice writing his name, the alphabet or numbers, or simply draw a picture. Get creative with your assignments and you might get a chunk of time to get your own work done.
Books on tape or podcasts: Instead of allowing your child to watch their favorite show over and over, have her listen to a book on tape or a podcast.
I SPY with a magazine: Give your child a magazine and ask her to circle specific objects, colors, or even letters or numbers.
Make a fort: When all else fails, a blanket over the table over a group of chairs is a reliable “go to.” Put some of your child’s favorite toys in the fort and you’re sure to at least get through your emails.
In the end, if your preschooler has a little more screen time during the pandemic, it isn’t the end of the world. We all need to be a little kinder to each other and ourselves right now, and there are worse things than a few extra episodes of Daniel Tiger or Sesame Street. Best wishes to all during this time.
Kelly McIntire is a children’s author who believes that magic and adventure should begin in childhood and last a lifetime. Her books include Time Twistedand Adventures in Fairy Meadow.
Visit her website at www.kellymcintireonline.com for more information, or follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kellymcintirewriter/?ref=bookmarks