Make the best use of your stay at home

Make the best use of your stay at home

Children may be asked to spend some time helping in the kitchen, and every aspect of kitchen activity should be correlated to all the subjects that they are studying.

There was a time when children used to just run out of houses in the summer vacation, explore all the nooks and corners of the locality or village, create their own games and entertainment. Many went off to their ‘native place’ to enjoy the hospitality of grandparents and the wide open spaces of nature.

We have come a long way from that era. Children no longer have the freedom to roam around freely and run back home only when they are hungry, or find their own friends to play with. Summer holidays have generally become regimented, and this year the coronavirus and lockdown have put severe restriction on the activities that children can take up.

Though it is sad to see kids confined at home, this period can be used for unwinding, recharging, chilling out, looking at a broader perspective like life beyond academics, and automatically learning life skills. We live in nuclear families and even play areas have disappeared or reduced. Tests and exams are getting postponed, resulting in stressful days expanding indefinitely and families are being forced to spend 24/7 together in four walls of small houses. Obviously, relationships are under strain and there is a great need for children to be given an opportunity to bring out their mental, physical and emotional energy. Let’s see how it can be done.

It will be very nice if parents and concerned adults could explore as many of the following activities as possible, and give rewards or brownie points when they implement them:

Put them in a safe place like terrace, enclosed garden space or a spare room without any electronic gadgets and ask them to take up any unstructured physical or intellectual activities. Ensure they spend at least some time in sunlight, as it increases their Vitamin D levels. If possible, pull them out of bed at sunrise and make them do surya-namaskar.

Children, particularly boys, may be asked to spend some time helping in the kitchen, and every aspect of kitchen activity should be correlated to all the subjects that they are studying.

Discuss the family tree, traditions, ‘native place’ and what life was just one generation back. Have an open discussion on both positive and negative aspects of earlier lifestyle.

Children of different ages, if available, may be grouped together and encouraged to play, since most of the time children stick to kids their own age. They can learn so much from the elder and younger ones. Let the elders ‘teach’ some subjects to the little ones. Also, ask the child to teach a parent some subject the parent is not very familiar with.

Encourage children to discover objects of nature around their houses e.g. types of trees or flowers, different animals (right down to the little squirrels), birds — even cloud formations! Doing gardening, even in a few pots in the balcony, teaches them delayed gratification and the wonders of nature.

Collect all possible unwanted things and scrap from the house and give them a garage or shed to play, create something unusual, find out how things work. Let them have the joy of taking apart some mechanical objects without the anxiety of putting them back again.

Make each child list down what he or she would do if made the Prime Minister of the country, how to handle crisis, how to improve education etc. These can be circulated to other children and a group discussion can be initiated through a webinar.

And most important is to teach children stress-relieving techniques such as yoga, meditation, music, punching a bag, jogging on one spot, creative work, whatever suits the individual child.

It may not be evident immediately but the above activities also make children connect their studies to real life, hence increasing their motivation and desire to learn. For those children whose exams are postponed but not cancelled, let us work out a simple time table for them to periodically revise and review what they have studied, and spend the rest of the time as mentioned above.

(The writer is founder, Banjara Academy, Bengaluru)