Lockdown and toddlers at home means that we are kept on our toes 24X7.
Here are some strategies to make this lockdown, fun, not just for the child, but for you as a family and you as the primary caregiver as well.
One of the first things to remember is to set yourselves a routine. Children love routines and are comforted by them. Make a time table for each day of the week and hang it on your cupboard so you know what has to be done and you can plan for it. From the waking moments until the sleeping moments, it is good to have a plan on what can be done. There are some spontaneous programmes that may extend, emerge or come about, which will bring in the added excitement. This timetable is definitely not to restrict you, but to help you be better equipped for the day. What happens if you are not? Well, then you will have to keep innovating and inventing at the spur of the moment, an activity that will drain you of physical and mental energy.
Secondly, create and assign a space for different activities and make these spaces safe.
Make one space your indoor play area. Make sure that area is stacked with indoor toys – blocks, puzzles, crayons and paper, clay, slate and chalk, dolls, doctors kit…Make another area your outdoor play area. you could put some sand, a bucket and spade and such like. This area could also serve to do your water play at least once a week. You could create a reading corner too, quite separate from the other two.
In this way you have created two or three spaces where you can leave the child on his/her own to play safely at least for ten to fifteen minutes of time, sometimes longer. You may not be able to keep your attention totally away from the child, but your presence will not be required to facilitate play. The child would enjoy playing alone and learn to do his/her own thing. It is important that children get enough time alone to play by themselves, doodle, scribble, indulge in dramatic play and messy play. So do not pressurize yourself to sit with the child the whole time.
You could purchase the CrEdo Home Learning Kits for Children around 2 to 4 year olds. This kit guides you with different activities that stimulate critical thinking, creativity and communication in the children through well planned, fun activities.
Children love to feel responsible and love to contribute to the “work” in the house. Have time set aside every day for home chores that the child must help you with. Children build life skills, but more importantly, they feel that they have contributed to the work achieved and that gives them a sense of belonging, pride and confidence. So have the chores set every day. It could be drying the dishes, keeping them in place, folding the clothes and keeping them in place, it could be helping you to sweep the yard, water the plants….
When all this is done do not fail to praise the child for the efforts of helping you with chores or successfully playing without requiring your physical presence.
As the primary caregiver, it is important that you plan for the child to spend time in the company of each of the other members in the family. Make sure each family member has his or her “me and tod” time. Share responsibilities with every member in the family so that you too can take a break and rejuvenate. You could help the family member plan on activities that they can do with the child, if needed. Otherwise, each family member can make his or her own plan on what he or she wishes to do with the child. If there are members who are young, have them run their plans past you so that you can ensure safety of both concerned.
Having so much time with your child is a good time to teach the child traditional songs and dances. Make sure you have reading time before bedtime every day. The CrEdo curriculum lists storybooks that are age appropriate and fun for children. You may familiarize yourself with Katha, Tulika and Pratham publications as well which have lovely stories with endearing characters in them. Your reading stories and then recalling and retelling them will go a long way in building the reading skills of your toddler.
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