I beseech you, oh good and faithful parents! The severity of the coronavirus outbreak has forced Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to officially state the closure of schools across the United Kingdom. I decided to visit Down Lane Park in Tottenham, North London. I grew up playing basketball in this park, but today, Down Lane Park is almost void of humans.
The entrance to the park was open; the playground was shut. A signboard cemented to the red gate read, “playground closed due to social distancing”. How can it be on beautiful, sunny day? Boris Johnson was right to call the coronavirus an “invisible killer”, and now, parents have to stay at home with their children and figure out how to replicate the discipline and repetition that school provides, and the physical outlet and social interaction that the park provides, all from the home.
Fear not! I have formulated ‘five E’s’: education, eating, exercise, entertainment and etiquette. I believe that parents should incorporate the ‘five E’s’ at home in their children activities. Let us explore further.
Education is about learning and being able to retain new information, so what activities can children do to ensure their home education is productive? The first and foremost is reading. Parents must read with their children every day for at least thirty minutes. Parents should let the child read the sentences on their own at their desired pace, the parent should sit beside the child and follow their progress, and offer correction where it is necessary. The worst case scenario would be to let the child rush through the reading book as if it was a sprint race. Let the child work vocally and mentally to pronounce words and understand the story. Picture books are a great option for young children as it adds visual connection to the writing. Abstain your children from electronic devices and encourage them to read a physical book every day: this the backbone of home-schooling.
However, poaching is not the only way to cook an egg. One programme that I’ve come across is Cypher. Cypher is about helping children to learn code, the computer language, through creative themes. As a result, children will need a laptop or iPad to use Cypher. An online Cypher camp will launch on Monday 30th March, and it promises to enrich children in digital art, Minecraft modelling, nature, oceanography and design and architecture. This is not your traditional, academic curriculum; instead Cypher is helping to mould children in the current age of business and technology.
Eating is arguably the most satisfying of the ‘Five E’s’. One activity I recommend children to do with parents is baking. Every child loves to eat home-baked products; it is a healthier option to sweets and sugary snacks that cause the tooth-fairy to make frequent visits to the children’s bedside. The aroma of biscuits or scones baking in the oven will make the home extra cosy and fight against the pessimistic feelings of coronavirus in the world right now. It does not matter if parents have one child or five, baking as a family is always fun, a great way to spend time together, and it offers a space for children to exercise their creativity.
I remember my days in primary school when break-time begun (usually around 11am); the teachers would open the doors that led out into the playground and every child, boy and girl, would run out into playground screaming. That was exercise at its finest. So how do children get their exercise in the house during the coronavirus lockdown? Here’s one idea: dancing sessions. The latest person to activate a dance channel for children is Oti Mabuse, known for her appearances on Strictly Come Dancing. Her YouTube channel, ‘Oti Mabuse Official’, contains choreography for well-known films such as Shrek and The Lion King. Parents, allow the kids to subscribe then step aside!
Boredom is inevitable when you’re forced to stay indoors, especially after doing constructive work inside the house, there is a time to relax and just be entertained. Allowing the children to watch their favourite film is a simple and common way to entertain them at home. However, the number of children using social media has skyrocketed over the last three years and it is normal to see families participating in games and challenges on social media platforms for the world to view. For example, the former British track sprinter, Dwain Chambers, has started doing a daily challenge for kids, on his Instagram account, alongside is own three children called ‘Chambers Challenge’. Although, there is a better option directed at younger children between two to eight years old: Creative Movements Haringey. This social media channel is hosted by the bubbly, Aly Hutcherson. Aly takes the kids a make-believe journey through storytelling and movement. This cool and colourful channel brings entertainment and art right the living-room for the kids to enjoy. View the Twitter account, @cm_haringey, where you will find a link to sign up to live stream classes and ultimately defeat boredom.
How a child is raised in the home has an effect on how successful they grow up to be in the world. Schools are shut; children have minimal outdoor activities due to the coronavirus, but that does not mean that proper home training should be discarded. We are talking about etiquette. This term simply refers to good behaviour. If you really want to get fancy, the French call it ‘Savoir vivre’. Parents should continue to teach their young ones to say please and thank you, get the children to clean up after themselves, to tidy their bedroom, match correct pairs of sock, cover their mouth when coughing, dress appropriately, refrain from back-chatting, prepare the dinner table, washing hands after using the toilet, and various other actions and speaking that make up a rational, law-abiding individual. Installing a sense of etiquette in children begins from the home, therefore a range of activities can be done for the good of the individual and the family as a whole.
I hope that the ‘Five E’s’ help to you endure the massive amount of time spent at home due to the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. The Jamaican author, Colin Channer, wrote in one of books that “a house is a person’s universe”.