With many parks closed due to COVID-19, it is more important than ever to find ways to keep children active. Many times, an abundance of energy, and nowhere to exert that energy, can be misdiagnosed as behavioral issues. In addition, public health scientists are expecting an increase in child obesity due to school closures (Andrew G. Rundle). Even with schools back in session, common recess areas may be closed due to the risk of spreading COVID-19. This can make it tough for parents and childcare workers to know how to properly help kids manage and deal with their energy and emotions in the COVID-19 era. As their caretakers, it is crucial that we find ways to keep children active and healthy. Here are a few ideas Smartcare has compiled to help you implement healthy habits.
Fun workout videos are a way to keep kids active. These can be purchased or instructed by teachers. Encourage kids to jump like a kangaroo, flap their arms like a bird, or waddle like a duck. Next, you can have all the kids gather in a circle in the middle of the room and close their eyes. Once you shout a color, they must open their eyes and run to the nearest object that is that color. These kinds of activities not only stimulate the body but also the brain.
Limiting Screen Time
As if limiting kids screen time was not hard enough, it is even more important now. Kids are already less active than they are used to, so be sure not to add any extra time that will keep kids sedentary. Though it may be hard, decreasing the amount of minutes of screen time pre-covid may even be necessary. Try replacing this with a pre-planned scavenger hunt. Have items in the room that you hide in new places each day for the kids to find.
Take Periodic Active Brain Breaks
Doing anything during COVID-19 is already harder than it used to be, but trying to get kids to learn under a pandemic is a whole different story. There is anxiety and restlessness added to the challenge of teaching. When you see kids start to lose focus, suggest an active brain break activity to keep the kids active. These breaks can reduce stress and frustration, improving concentration. For younger ones, have a dance party! This may not resonate with kids older than toddler age, so for them try 5-4-3-2-1. In this game, you pick an action for each number. For example, spin 5 times, do 4 jumping jacks, give 3 high-fives, 2 hops, and run 1 time around the room.
Keep An Eye On Screen Time Snacking
Frequent screen time can cause mindless snacking, especially in kids. Most children will choose convenience over health. Also, they can easily lose track of their portion size because they are so bored. One way to battle this is to have easily accessible healthy snacks. For example, have a veggie tray in the refrigerator or wheat thins instead of chips on the shelf. Because of the circumstances, there may even need to be harsher rules set in place to ensure eating does not get out of hand. You may need to tell the kids not to eat at all while on a screen. This may not necessarily need to be a forever rule, but it may be helpful during this time of COVID-19.
Parents and teachers around the world are documenting their creative achievements on Facebook, Youtube, etc. Parents and teachers are creating indoor putt putt courses, doing 5 year old yoga, inflating bouncy houses inside the house, things that would normally deem someone certifiably insane. Take notes from these parents and teachers because these activities may seem extreme, but they are keeping kids interested and active.