I was recently lucky to spend a few days with my 5-year-old niece Lina, who has been going to Kindergarten virtually for the past three months. Her classroom experience consists of sitting at a small table in her bedroom, while she learns numbers, letters, basic reading and arithmetic skills. Mom reports that recently, Lina is bored with virtual school and has a lot of trouble staying engaged with the lessons while sitting in front of the computer screen. However, Lina is happy to spend 5 or 6 hours a day watching cartoons.
I am not much of a proponent of children sitting in front of computer or television screens for long periods of time. It makes them jumpy, decreases their ability to focus and certainly doesn’t do anything to help them learn patience. But….in today’s Pandemic-World, our choices are limited as we try to educate our youngsters.
Lina is learning. She knows her letters and recognizes some words. She is very good at addition and her teacher recently told her she was a real “mathematician.” Lina is also becoming increasingly short-tempered, inflexible and displaying a lot of emotionality. So, what to do?
1. Incorporate more ritual into your family’s day; start the morning with a stretch and 5-minute movement warm-up. Children thrive when consistent, meaningful activities are included in their daily lives.
2. Find a song with a strong rhythm beat and put it on during your child’s morning school break. The rhythm will help calm the body and brain, and the movement can help release frustration and stress.
3. After a lunch break, put on some peaceful, gentle music. Do some deep breathing and simple stretching with your child. You will both feel calmer and more grounded – ready for the rest of the school day.
4. Find a song that both you and your child LOVE. Mark the end of the school day with a dance you execute together with your child. Start with free dance and add simple moves you both enjoy as you move together. Make eye contact with your child!
5. Incorporate simple bedtime deep breathing. Sit or lie with your little one while you breathe together. Really tune in and feel the difference – the calming relaxation that comes with breathing into all areas of your body.
Try and replace all that screen time with activities that help to both stimulate and relax the body and brain. You don’t need a lot of space or money to add activities that will help your child get a little of what they’re missing these days – as demonstrated by Lina in this video!