What to do with preschoolers at home before you go out of your mind…
By Natalie Bartoo
Being the parent of a preschooler is a wild and tough, yet beautiful and rewarding job. The current “Stay Home & Stay Safe” world we find ourselves in brings a whole new set of challenges. Some of you may be working from home while trying to juggle your preschooler or you may be trying to adjust to not getting to leave the house with your child. We want to give you some ideas to help you with your little ones during these unprecedented times.
Make a Schedule- you and your preschooler need a plan. It helps give you purpose, order and focus, and it gives them security by helping them know what to expect. If you are working from home, you especially need a way to create some structure.
Here are some ways to help do that:
Get Moving – your little ones have energy and they will get it out one way or another. So, get outside with purpose, go for walks, have indoor dance parties and wiggle time more than once a day. Be silly, be free, be active…it will help you and your child. Here are some ideas for movement:
Be Creative – Find fun ways to engage your child, stretch your imaginations, explore their world, and express themselves through art and activities. Right now, there are a plethora of resources to help facilitate their creativity and expose children to culture all over the world:
Quiet Times/Naps – some of your children still nap at school and some don’t, but either way you can have some quiet time…you both need it. Turn down the lights, pull up a blanket and read, play with a doll, listen to music, watch a few good cartoons, or take a nap. Do this with your child or independently, but take the time for you and your kids to slow down and recharge:
Spotify (create playlists)
Healthy Habits and Education – use this time to help teach your child how to do some simple chores, let them help with dinner, practice educational skills, do daily devotionals, memorize scripture, or develop prayer calendars. Help to reinforce positive behaviors and give them something to look forward to for having a great day or turning around a hard day. Here are some tools to help in these areas:
Lake Kids Weekly Resources
Serving and Giving – this unique time of social distancing is not just about protecting ourselves; it is mainly about protecting our neighbor. We are showing love to others by staying at home. Since children can’t really SEE that we are helping others in that way, we can do projects and activities to actively show love to others during this time. We want them to understand that we are putting others above ourselves by staying home. Some ideas you can use are:
Lake Church Children’s Ministry is posting outreach projects every Friday that your family can do
Paint kindness rocks and leave them along walking paths; chalk your sidewalk or driveway with loving words; Color signs for your windows with encouragement for people as they pass your house; write letters or draw pictures for elderly neighbors/loved ones/church members; write or draw thank you notes for our community helpers; leave notes of love on neighbor’s doors
Keep Connections – being forced to keep our distance means parents and children are missing out on interactions with friends and family. Plan playdates and family fun times through zoom or other video meeting platforms with other kids, family friends, grandparents, and cousins.
Due to the circumstances, we may not recognize that we have been gifted with an extended period to engage and love on our children that we don’t normally have. Enjoy this time, you don’t want to waste it or spend it focused on the wrong things. Since it is a serious time, be sure to reassure your children. How you respond to this global crisis and the stress and difficulty that may come with it will reflect back on your children. If they feel secure and reassured, then they can be okay. Children express themselves through play, so playing with them and helping them navigate through this time will help you both come through this closer and with precious memories and growth. If you see yourself struggling or needing a break, take it – if you are able to tag out with your spouse do it, get your child in bed at a good hour so you can relax, make use of independent play time, and ask for help. Most importantly, seek the Lord for how He wants you to love on, teach, and grow your child and you during this time. When this is all over, we want to look back at what God has done during this part of our story and be amazed at how He used something intended for harm and made it something beautiful.