The last few weeks have been challenging for parents of very young children, as making sure an energetic toddler is kept amused, stimulated and engaged while having to juggle their own work commitments is certainly not easy.
However, after two months of trying to entertain a one, two or three-year-old at home, many mums and dads are likely to have run out of things to do with their youngsters, who are now craving contact with their peers.
Although it is asking a lot to recreate the stimulating setting of a private nursery in Manchester, there are some things you can do to ensure your little ones thrive during lockdown.
One of the benefits of sending your child to nursery is they are able to play with other children of their own age. This helps develop important skills, including communication, understanding social boundaries, and learning from others.
Parents are often inclined to finish their sentences, do things for them or not get down to their level to play, which means they miss out on this interaction when not in a childcare setting, especially if they don’t have siblings.
it is a good idea to try and recreate this social engagement through video
calls with friends who have children the same age, their music or dance class,
or regular catch ups with those they went to nursery with. Even if they just
sit and watch other children or play by themselves in front of the tablet, they
will still be absorbing what is going on while remaining familiar with their
peers. This will make going back to pre-school, nursery or their childminder less
of a shock when they are due to return.
An activity as simple as sorting can be incredibly beneficial for toddlers, as well as useful for you. Get your little ones to organise laundry into piles, colour-coordinate their Lego, put the cutlery in the right drawers, pair up shoes or find missing jigsaw pieces. Not only does this help you keep an orderly house, but matching games help their developmental skills.
They can learn about different colours, numbers, sizes, weights and shapes by helping you sort through toys and kitchen utensils. What’s more, if you turn your activity into a treasure hunt, they can spend time scouring the house for objects to tick off, giving you a much-needed break!
Nurseries are great for children because they generally have good outdoor provisions, taking kids out in the fresh air whatever the weather. Parents should replicate this at home, heading outside once a day, in line with lockdown restrictions.
Getting outside has lots of benefits for children, from giving them fresh air, an opportunity to run around and a mental break from playing at home.
For really young ones, you could push them around in the buggy, showing them signs of spring such as birds singing and flowers blooming. While for older toddlers, you could set up a treasure hunt for them, arm them with a clip board and get them to tick off things they find, such as different coloured flowers, bugs or types of birds.
Now is a great time to teach them about nature, from the lifecycle of a frog or caterpillar to various types of leaves. They can spend hours making a den in the forest, pretend to go camping or setting up a band with different objects they can find to make musical instruments.
Being outside is also very mindful, which can help children who are struggling with the confusion of their daily routines having changed dramatically to relax and feel calm.