It’s a good bet things will be back to something more like normal before too long – but in the meantime, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted everything from our daily schedules to where we can go and what we can do. These changes can be challenging for everyone. That’s especially true for kids, who thrive on routines and predictability. Children’s Hospital of Colorado has some tips to keeping Colorado kids active during the pandemic and beyond.
To help support families during these unpredictable times, our child life specialists have compiled their best tips for how to create a schedule and plan activities for children of any age.
Note: These tips apply any time of the year, whether your kids are enjoying a break, learning virtually or heading back to in-person activities like sports or school.
Creating a schedule for your family during the pandemic
Creating a routine is a great way to help reduce stress for your entire family. Here are some general tips for creating a schedule for family members of all ages:
- Personalize your plan. There is no perfect schedule for every family. We recommend using meals and bedtime as a starting point and building your family’s schedule around those important parts.
- Plan age-appropriate activities. We’ve compiled a list of ideas for activities, coping strategies and expression tools for you to incorporate into your schedule based on the age of your children.
- Give yourself grace. You and your kids are navigating a new normal during these times. A general rhythm can be helpful, but remember that your schedule will not be perfect, and that’s okay. It’s simply there to help you.
Ideas for kids ages 3 to 6 years old
Transitions are integral when managing activities for children who are 3 to 7 years old. You can help manage stress by giving toddlers and young kids time to transition from one activity to the next. For example, prior to a transition say, “We are going to be putting these toys away soon so we can do something else.” This helps your child mentally prepare to change activities.
We recommend including a variety of different categories of activities in your day. For example, chores help teach even young kids that they are part of a world bigger than themselves. Pitching in helps them feel valued. Having them help clean up after playing with their toys is a great place to start – just try not to expect perfection.
Ideas for kids ages 7 to 11 years old
Children in this age group may want to review their schedule each day and choose their own activities. It will take some creative parenting ideas to keep your kids active and engaged over the summer.
For 7- to 11-year-olds, giving choices and control helps promote coping and satisfaction in their lives. This is especially true when many things feel out of control. It’s still helpful to stick to schedules and allow choice.
This age group is also more attracted to technology. Though it’s a strong distraction, do your best to provide enough time for social and interactive options, too.
Mindfulness can also help children cope during stressful times. Kids this age can learn practices like breathing exercises that can help them cope with their emotions. Many websites offer free yoga classes, for example.
Ideas for tweens and teens
While socially distancing, tweens and teens are searching for normalcy. Kids in this age group may feel isolated, miss their friends and struggle to find a way to make things better.
To help support your tween or teen, create a schedule with options so they can gain back some of the control that they’ve lost due to current circumstances. We recommend creating a general structure and letting them fill in the details. Start with chores as the foundation, and then add screen-free family time, as well as virtual social activities with friends.
For example, you might encourage your teen to set up a phone or video chat every day with one friend or a group of friends. You could help plan activities they could do virtually together, such as a movie night where kids could watch together and talk about the movie over the phone.
Ideas, ideas, ideas
You can find more ideas on keeping Colorado kids active during the pandemic – much more – conveniently sorted by age group in the full article, Age-Specific Schedules and Activities for Kids During the Coronavirus Pandemic. Read it in full at childrenscolorado.org.