By Carolyn Tomlin
Schools are closed. Restaurants offer take-out or pick-up only. Normal events cancelled. Even those who show no symptoms of the coronavirus are advised to stay home. What can parents and grandparents do to keep children occupied and prevent boredom?
Brooks and Buddy Evans of west Tennessee offer these suggestions for keeping their three children, Oaklee, age 12; Tanner age 10, and Wiley, age 6 entertained and happy.
“As I home-school our children, these are normal activities for us,” says Brooke. “I pulled out some jig-saw puzzles from the closet shelf and the three had fun with these. Also, some board games created a challenge for practicing skills of math and language.
Brooke encourages cooking as children learn terms, such as sifting, measuring, temperature controls and others. “One afternoon I Googled “evaporated milk” to see what I could do with one can. I found a recipe for a Vanilla Chocolate Chunk Cake. The recipe turned out great and we all enjoyed the dessert.”
The kids plan and present their own talent shows. One afternoon, they staged an American Idol show. Sidewalk chalk drawing encourages creativity. Recently, they used the trampoline as a canvas for sketching
Growing up in a rural area allows the children to learn from nature. “We put on our boots and take walks in the woods, says Brooke. “Of course, it’s muddy, but that never keeps us from having fun as a family.”
Reading is encouraged and library books are always nearby. “We use television to see documentaries, such as the Ken Burns programs about the history of our country. Recently, we watched a documentary on John F. Kennedy.” Another favorite is Google Earth. When children are exposed to both an auditory and a visual approach to learning, they retain more information.
Children who live near grandparents have an advantage of learning from this generation. West Tennessee residents, Bert and Katrina Porch, spend time with their three grandchildren, Lily Porch, age 8; Bayne Porch age 8, and Barrett Porch, age 5. Like other Haywood County grandparents, they often keep their grandchildren when schools have been closed due to the coronavirus.
“Going on an ‘adventure’ tops the list for fun activities,” says Bert. Living in the country we find ditches and gullies to explore. You ever know what you’ll find in a gully. We usually take a metal detector and if we’re lucky, we’ll find pieces of metal or chards of pottery. To encourage thinking skills, we’ll make up stories about the people who once used these items.”
Katrina pulls out her paint set and the kids get creative as they make original designs and patterns.
When the kids are with us, we often take them to O’Neal Lake off Hwy 76 in the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge near Brownsville,” reports Bert. During this time of year, ducks and geese are frequent visitors. Turtles are seen sunning on logs in the lake.
If your children or grandchildren complain of being bored or having nothing to do during this coronavirus pandemic, use some of these suggestions. Encourage them to stay in touch with friends through emails, phone calls or writing letters. Use this time to grow as a family while making memories that will last a lifetime.
Carolyn Tomlin is the author of the book “What I Wish I’d Known Sooner: Parents” available on Amazon and Kindle.