Teaching your child new skills can be done easily through various types of play. While coronavirus infections may be dropping in SA, it’s still important to practice social distancing…

Your child may not be interacting with as many friends as they used to, or you may be choosing to spend more time at home instead of on play dates during this time. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t continue learning. Children are constantly absorbing information from the world around them. This is an ideal opportunity to teach your child some new skills or new behaviours. This can be done through play.

Below are some tips from the WHO and UNICEF who have collaborated to distribute free Covid-19 parenting resources to help parents keep themselves and their children safe, happy and healthy during this stressful period.

There are many different types of play that can be both fun AND educational.

Language, numbers, objects, drama and music games give children opportunities to explore and express themselves in a safe and fun way.

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Movement games

Create a dance choreography to your children’s favourite songs. One person does a dance move and everyone else copies. Everyone takes turns being the leader.

  • “Challenge” who can do the most toe touches: Jumping jacks, windmill toe touches in a minute.
  • “Mirror” each other: Facial expressions, movements, sounds. One person can start as the leader and then switch. Try it with no leaders!
  • Freeze dance: Play music or someone sings a song, and everyone dances. When the music stops, everyone must freeze. Last person still dancing becomes the judge for the next round.
  • Animal dance: Same as above but when the music stops, call out a name of an animal, and everyone has to become that animal.

Telling stories

  • Tell your children a story from your own childhood.
  • Ask your children to tell you a story.
  • Make up a new story together starting with “Once upon a time…” Each person adds a new sentence to the story.
  • Act out a favourite story or movie – older children can even direct younger ones while learning responsibility.

Change the object

  • Every day household items like brooms, mops or scarves can become fun props for games.
  • Place an object in the centre of the room and whenever someone has an idea, they jump in and show the rest what the object can be.
  • For example, a broom might become a horse or a microphone or even a guitar!

Memory game

First person says, “When COVID-19 lockdown ends, I am going to… (e.g., go to the park)”.

Second person adds to first person, “When COVID-19 lockdown ends, I am going to the park and… (e.g., visit my best friend)”.

Each person adds to the previous trying to think of all of the fun things to do when COVID-19 lockdown ends.

Singing

  • Singing songs to your baby helps to develop language.
  • Play or sing a song, and the first one to guess it right becomes the next leader.
  • Make up a song about handwashing or physical distancing. Add dance movements!

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