As educational institutions remain closed as a measure to contain the onslaught of COVID-19, it is hard time for children and parents. Kids are mostly forbidden to use playgrounds and parks outside nor do they get classroom lessons from teachers. With malls, cinema halls and other public facilities for leisurely gathering being shutdown, parents are clueless about how to manage their kids and keep them engaged indoors during the long extended holidays. Besides, there is a need for pulling children out of a possible psychological repercussions following the overwhelming corona impact that has gripped the world as of now.
Sham, a Kochi resident, has this idea of engaging his kids. He asked his two sons, Rahul, who is in class XII, and Rohit, in class IV, to solve puzzle games and promised them gifts if they achieved the targets within stipulated time. "The first item is Rubik's Cube and they have to solve it with in a week. I have asked them not to follow the formula available on the internet. Because I believe solving it using formula involves no mental exercise," he says. "I'll gift them something anyway but need to discover other puzzles for subsequent weeks.”
Rohit has a wide range of interests, from Korean band BTS to play station, and Xbox to tablets. "So, after dividing time between all these activities, they never feel the pinch of being locked inside the house,” he says.
Rama, a Kottayam native says her advice to her class X child Lavanya is to follow a routine for studies as if the the school is still open and avoid the vacation mood. So, she wakes up in the early morning and begins her studies. "She also gets involved in household chores. She is an avid reader and spends some time with fictional books when too much of academic reading exhausts her as she's facing board exams this year.”
Though kids' movies appear to be a better option, parents are not keen on it because kids tend to spend more time on mobile phones.
Nandini, a school teacher hailing from Kottayam, says her nine-year-old son Madhavan assists his aunt at a handicrafts unit that creates elephant caparison. "He has a fine taste of doing such art works." His aunt Gayathri is a famed artist and she crafts elephant caparisons.
The vacation is also being used for learning multiplication tables, English grammar and so on. "I don't let him get immersed in mobile phones too much and his interest in painting also keeps him engaged for a long time, " she says.
Lavani, a home maker hailing from Mavelikara, has made a time scheduled to be followed in such a way that her two sons, one in class X and the other in class VI, won't be feeling much of a difference from the school atmosphere. "They will be waking up at the same time as when they used to go to the school and their time has been divided between studies and hobbies in the first and second half of the day accordingly," she says.
Thus Allen Thomas, the elder one will be dividing time between vegetable garden, which his favourite pastime, and studies. While younger Jerin will be engaged in multiplication tables, Hindi numerals and, sometimes, assisting his elder brother in the garden. While Allen is a passionate chess player, Jerin is so much obsessed with cycling. "So there is no much time to left think of how they will be spending their extended vacation" Lavani says.
Parents also engage their children with different board games like chess, Ludo, snake and ladder and so on. Meanwhile, some of the parents find the vacation as a chance to explore the enriching joys of togetherness. Sreekala, who lives in Mumbai, says that her small family of three hardly got time to be together as she and her husband were employed with different time schedules for work. “Now that we have more than enough time at home, we can do yoga, follow newspaper, watch movies more elaborately and with wider options.”
Sheeba, another school teacher from Kottayam, says her small child Edwin Verghese - who is in class III - uses much of his spare time in reading newspapers and documenting important facts and information. "He now knows who's who of the state and national politics. He is a good artist as well and takes some time away everyday for drawing pictures. Cycling is also his favourite pastime and takes rounds inside the compound in the evenings," she says.
Sebastian, a resident in Bengaluru, complaints that though he has shared so many online resources for studies and activities with his kids aged five and seven, they are engaged in a new-found rustic activity of collecting twigs from the surrounding and playing with them inside their 7th floor apartment. "They create a mayhem inside with twigs and sticks but I don't intervene as I think it's better to allow them to spend their time with what they are interested in, " he quips.
But he makes sure his kids avail online resources for academic as well as non-curricular purposes everyday. He also keeps circulating lists of apps and programmes on the internet for kids in the WhatsApp group of the resident's association of the housing complex.
Meanwhile, Dr Mayarani, a psychologist based in Kottayam, says that three month's time is enough for a kid to form a behavioural pattern. "Staying home for 90 days without proper physical and mental engagements may pose a risk of inactive behaviour among kids and this can even carve a path for future behavioural design," she says. But this vacation can be seen as a great opportunity to explore one's interests and develop hobbies accordingly, instead of paving way for inactivity and negativity.
Regarding the fear psychosis caused by the enormous volume of news reports of COVID - 19 spread and threat, the doctor says that parents should carefully avoid talks and gestures that create panic among children. They should discuss it with kids sensibly to create awareness and without causing fear.
"A boy has created a chart depicting all the countries affected by COVID-19. He also labelled the measures taken by each of those countries to fight the pandemic. With climates and other features of those countries, he has compiled a valuable document of sorts," she says.
"So, parents do have a great role to play and engaging kids in household chores like cleaning up, arranging can be seen as early steps for them to imbibe certain life skills and learn about how to become self-reliant,” she says.
(Names of some of the parents and children have been changed)
Here are a few online resources for homeschools
» Curiosity Stream
» Beast Academy (Math)
» Khan Academy
» Creative Bug
» Discovery Education
» Crash Course Kids
» Science Channel
» SciShow Kids
» National Geographic Kids
» Free School
» Geography Focus
» Kids Learning Tube
» Geeek Gurl Diaries
» Mike Likes Science
» Science Max
» Scholastic has created a free learn-from-home site with over 20 days of learning and activities. Click here
» You can go on a virtual tour of these 12 famous museums and pretend to travel the world. Click here
» Everything from preschool activities to 12th grade is available in this awesome free curriculum. Click here
» A number of thinking games by grade has been listed here. Click here
More free learning websites: