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Keeping Kids Engaged During the Quarantine

In an effort to curb the spread of the much-reported COVID-19, the president has announced the early closure of all South African schools, the banning of large-scale gatherings, and is encouraging people to remain at home as much as possible. For parents with young, energetic children cooped up at home, this is quite a daunting reality, particularly considering the situation could change at any time.


And while this pandemic does pose a real threat to society, there is an opportunity here that parents really shouldn’t miss. Spending dedicated, quality time with children, without the distractions of busy schedules, is an almost unheard-of reality in today’s world. So, rather than bemoaning the fact that you are now quarantined with your loved ones, engage in some productive activities that will strengthen your bond and improve your children’s life skills for when the pandemic ends.


1. Life lessons


There are so many things that aren’t taught in the classroom but we often don’t have the time to impart these vital life skills onto our young ones. Use this time in quarantine to teach your children how to cook the basics, do the laundry, change a tyre, check the car’s oil, sew on a button, do online banking … really anything every person should know but their parents just couldn’t find the time. Really, the primary job of any parent is turning this completely helpless human being into an independent, productive member of society, so now’s the chance.


2. Immerse yourself in nature


We are so fortunate to be living in an area that is completely surrounded by natural sites and, if the global warming crisis has taught us anything (yes, that other crisis hasn’t disappeared), it’s that reconnecting our children with nature is vital to the planet’s survival. As it stands our beaches are still open for public use so go on a maritime adventure – but just remember to practice social distancing. If it’s not a beach day, then you can’t go wrong just hopping into the car and heading out to Hluhluwe/Umfolozi where your children will get up close with some of the most incredible plant and animal species on the planet. Being in the car means no social interaction, but you’re still able to get out and about to beat those cabin fever blues.


3. Online resources


If you’re going to have to suffer through quarantine, then now is undoubtedly the best time to experience this. We live in an interconnected, digital age where resources for at-home learning and fun abound. It’s just a matter of research. Scholastic (www.scholastic.com) offers free online courses, while www.storylineonline.net is a literacy programme where well-known actors read to children. For some virtual field trips, www.discoveryeducation.com will take your kids on an immersive journey. There are also many ‘data-free’ education sites, such as www.siyavula.com for South African high school maths, science, IT and CAT learners, or Vodacom e-school for Grades R to 12.


4. Back to basics


For the younger children, sometimes the simplest activities are the best, and you really don’t need to do any preparation. Simply go out into the garden and tell them to hunt for snails/slugs/beetles or any other creepy crawly. Count them and discuss their importance in the ecosystem. Pick flowers, plant succulents, make paper aeroplanes, draw with chalk on the driveway, climb trees, hide toys in the garden and retrieve them… you’ll be amazed at how interesting and exciting the world around you can be.


Just remember, Shakespeare wrote King Lear while in quarantine during the black plague. Something immensely good can still come out of this!



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