With the pandemic sweeping across the world, life as we know it has taken a strange turn. A home stands for your sanctuary, your relief after a long, trying day. But the last two years have turned peoples' homes into their workplace, their social hangout, offspring, and everything in between. This kind of change is so drastic yet so unnoticeable at the same time that you don't register it at all. Slowly it dawned on all of us just how much our lives have changed, and that had us scrambling to cling to any bit of normalcy we possibly could.
Adults all across the globe found respite in various coping methods, finding peace in everything from - aerial yoga to abstract art. However, kids have had little to no sense of whatever will be their new usual. Some kids fall into the 0-4 year age group and have never experienced the traditional development kids undergo. They have not experienced normal leisure activities like outdoor games or sports.
Since the early civilizations appeared, the development of children naturally involved outdoor activity games for kids. The mental and physical development of the children is dependent on these activities.
The current predicament we face might not be one, but it is worse in unexpectedness. The human species as a whole has seen and survived many extinction-level events. The general population was not on the frontlines but instead took the role of the targets to be protected. We played an active role in protecting ourselves and those around us by doing nothing and staying home.
Working from home became the standard, allowing us loads of leisurely time. Already most of us had things we wanted to pursue, and if not, we figured out what to do with our time. But what about the part of our population that has the sole purpose of growing and learning? They were in a state of limbo with education shifting to online mode and sparse social interaction.
Moreover, the kids who were not old enough to be put into schools had no idea about a typical kid's everyday life or childhood. That is where kids' entertainment comes in. We can simulate a healthy development trajectory despite the adversities by engaging kids in activity games and providing education-centric thought entertainment at home. Being confined to an indoor, sheltered space can affect their mental health massively, and doing nothing might not be the state of zero you consider it to be.
We have the "why?", now we need the "how?". How to keep kids busy at home without interfering with the natural course of their development? The simplest way to do this is to combine the two.
1. 0-4-year-olds: the kids in this age group are not stagnant in their attention span. The toys or activities have to be engaging and exciting. Board games like scrabble or activity games like Pictionary can be ideal for making them think and play simultaneously.
2. 5-8-year-olds: this is when the kids ask more questions and grow physically simultaneously. So you require activity games for kids that will engage both body and mind. A few good examples are - twister, dancing games, coloring books, etc.
3. 8-13-year-olds: this age group has less of the trademark chaotic energy associated with kids and develops empathy and a personality. Kids' entertainment for this age bracket should involve critical thinking-based activities like - mystery games, a Rubik's cube, chess, etc.
4. 13-17-year-olds: the teenage years are the precursor to adulthood and, thus, crucial to an individual's life history and identity. Your focus needs to be more on the kids' development side than the kids' entertainment side. Giving them ample opportunity to figure out who they are what they like is of the utmost importance.
Let them pick activities themselves. Let them engage in things that can be either a hobby or a career rather than something to occupy their time merely. The range of activities here can be from painting to cooking to taekwondo to coding.
5. Media-dependent kids' entertainment: there are so many media formats available for entertaining kids at home while also helping them learn through them. They can be immersive like books, movies, music. Or interactive like video games, virtual reality, etc.
Picking them according to your kids' age, interests, and level of understanding can be very helpful in aiding them to learn languages, reasoning, human emotions, and many other things.
Keeping kids busy at home and figuring the correct route to take when it comes to kids' entertainment is a tricky task for any parent. It can be triumphed with putting enough thought into it as well as getting involved with your kids in these leisurely activities yourself. The task of entertaining kids at home should never be a passive thought but something you actively and willingly partake in.
The task or activity itself might not always be a success, but it will always be a learning experience - for your kid and an opportunity to strengthen your bond with your kid - for you.
As a parent, shaping your kid in all areas is entirely your responsibility but remember that more than finding them a task they enjoy or excel in, you have to put in the time and effort in supporting them grow in their own time, on their terms. Try to keep an open mind when trying out new things or taking input from your children about their favored activities. Keep switching up the things you do together or alone weekly to keep their interest alive and make their opinion a priority rather than your comfort level.