Helping kids survive the COVID-19 lockdown (a.k.a how to save parents from child-induced insanity)

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Looking for ways to educate and entertain your children at home? Here are some tips on surviving – even enjoying – life under lockdown.

The coronavirus outbreak is a major game-changer for all of us. New cases of COVID-19 infection are being reported everyday at an alarming rate, prompting the Government to declare a Movement Control Order (MCO) which does not look like it will be lifted anytime soon. With schools and offices closed and many businesses shutting down, adults and children face the prospect of being cooped up together at home indefinitely. While this can be a great opportunity for family bonding and quality time together, it can also be tough. Being forced to share the same space for an extended period of time is bound to cause friction, even for those folks who love to hang out with their nearest and dearest. Tensions among family members are bound to run high as everyone tries to deal with the situation in their own way. 

We have compiled the following tips on how to survive the coronavirus lockdown while keeping yourself sane and your kids entertained at the same time.

1. Draw up a schedule

Explain to your kids that just because they are home does not mean they can do anything or nothing at all. Draw up a schedule for them that includes study time, chores, reading, mealtimes, family time, independent free time, and bedtime. If they are learning to play a musical instrument, make sure that you schedule sufficient practice time for that too. Print out the schedule and post it some place where everyone can see it. The kids will soon fall into the new daily routine. However, do remember not to go overboard about enforcing it; some flexibility can be a good thing sometimes!

2. Organize virtual play dates

Now is not the time to impose rigid bans on computer and cell phone usage! Make full use of your home broadband subscription and free video conferencing platforms. Invite your children’s friends and their parents to hang out over Zoom, WhatsApp or Skype. 

  • have your kids and their friends do an online activity together e.g. drawing or coloring
  • host a regular online story time and get parents to take turns reading to the kids
  • get the kids to meet on a video call even if just to say hi to each other. If younger children have difficulty in finding things to chat about, prompt them with a few questions e.g. “What do you miss most about school?”, “What do you want to play when you see Ethan again?”  

3. Break out the board games 

It is not just children who can learn from playing board games, but adults as well. Old favorites like Scrabble, Monopoly, Risk, Mastermind, chess and snakes ‘n’ ladders, can help to develop thinking abilities and life skills. Wait a minute, even snakes ‘n’ ladders? Yes! Here are some of the lessons in dealing with life’s challenges which can be learnt from snakes ‘n’ ladders:

  • Life is full of ups and downs. Even if you plan everything out very carefully, sooner or later you will slide down. That is just the way it is.
  • You can recover from being down. In fact, sliding down a ‘snake’ may even be a good thing because this gives you another chance. You could land on the longest ladder on the board, which shoots you right up to the top.
  • Just as there are ‘snakes’ everywhere, there are also ladders everywhere. When you least expect it, a great opportunity might present itself. Keep your eyes open for opportunities.

4. Take up baking

Baking is not only loads of fun, there are so many benefits that kids can gain from the whole baking experience.

Here are just some of the benefits of baking with kids :

  • it gives them practice in reading and listening
  • it teaches them to follow instructions
  • it helps them learn about weighing and measuring e.g. measuring liquids 
  • it exposes them to the concepts of math in real life e.g. counting eggs and cups of flour
  • it lets them practise using their hands in a coordinated way e.g. rolling balls of dough, flattening dough, sifting flour
  • it helps them to develop eye-hand coordination e.g. pouring ingredients into bowls, pouring batter into tins, putting frosting on cupcakes
  • it helps to develop their spatial perception and planning skills e.g. trying to cut as many cookies as possible from a single sheet of dough

In addition, it is an opportunity for you and your child to create memories.

5. Throw a party

After all the hard work of baking, it is time to taste the fruits of your labor! Lay the table for a tea party or spread out the picnic cloth. Serve up the cookies and cakes that you baked together. To make it special, encourage everyone to dress up for the occasion.

6. Indulge in some downtime

Not every activity has to involve effort on your part. Allow yourself some downtime by watching a movie or reading a book together. You could:

  • Hold a family movie night

Let the kids choose what they want to watch, then switch off the lights and watch it all together (try to catch some z’s while they watch!)

  • Listen to an audiobook

Everybody, young or old, enjoys listening to stories. Stories entertain, they teach, and they keep young minds active, alert and engaged. Audible, which is usually a paid app, is now free for anyone to use during this time of coronavirus lockdowns. They have books and songs for all age groups. Check them out at

The coronavirus pandemic has cut off nations and separated friends, families, and neighbours from each other. Which makes it all the more important for us to ensure that we keep our spirits up and make ourselves part of the solution. By staying safe and not panicking, staying active while staying home, having things to do at home, and maintaining social contacts albeit virtually, we can survive this crisis together.

Do you have any tips on how to survive the current coronavirus crisis? We would love to hear from you! The 3 most creative ideas will receive an original copy of The Gruffalo’s Child (RRP:RM40).