The Best 20-Minute Activities to Keep Your Children Entertained

Do you ever want 20-minutes of uninterrupted, child-free time? Let me re-phrase that – do you ever need 20-minutes of uninterrupted, child-free time?

Unless you are a superhero parent with multiple arms and a renewable amount of energy, I’m sure that the answer to both of these questions is a resounding “Yes.”

Whether you want some peace and quiet to unload the dishwasher, clean up the kitchen after dinner or just to sit down with a cup of tea by yourself, here are numerous go-to activities that you can have on hand to keep your little ones entertained.

12 go-to activities for children

1. Playdough

Let your children’s imaginations run wild and allow them to explore the feeling of playdough as they manipulate it to make special shapes. Throw in some cookie cutters, a rolling pin and other household objects and you have a fun-filled activity that will last more than 20 minutes!

2. Slime

There are not many things more fun than playing with containers full of slime. Younger children love to explore the feel of it while older children like to create slime-filled scenes with other toys. (not suitable for under 3’s)

3. Sticker books

Young children love sticker books especially when they can create pictures themselves such as funny faces. Sticker books are perfect distractions for short periods.

two boys reading a book

4. Hidden picture books

A perfect 20-minute activity for the 5+ age group as hidden picture books take focus. You can stow away a few different picture books for a rainy day such as the good old “Where’s Wally?” and your children will love the distraction.

5. Water wow books

If you want to entertain your little ones for a short period, simply fill up a painting pen with water and let them colour the pages of their water wow books. When they do so, vibrant pictures will be revealed until they dry again just 5-minutes later.

6. Water beads

Not only are they extremely inexpensive, but they are also incredibly fun too! You buy them as tiny little sprinkles and once you let them sit in water, they expand to the size of jelly beans. These are great fun and perfect for tactile learning. (supervision required for under 3’s)

7. Water colouring

Watercolours are a great minimal-mess alternative to arts and crafts and painting. Not only that but they are easy to set-up, quick to tidy away, and they will stimulate your children’s creativity for the time being.

A child painting

8. Building blocks/supplies

Building supplies such as Lego, magnet tiles or wooden blocks can keep your little ones entertained for hours as they are only limited by their imaginations. If you want to, you can also create your own supply kit of junk modelling by collecting items such as toilet paper rolls, coffee filters, adhesive tape, and stickers etc.

9. Art supplies box

Similarly to the building supplies box, create your own art supplies box for your children to experiment with. Items such as cardboard, glitter pens, tape, felt, pipe cleaners, and ribbon are perfect.

10. Sensory bins

Sensory bins are great for stimulating creativity, innovation, and critical thinking. With this activity, you can get creative too! For the Winter, create a snow sensory bin and fill it with snow, small shovels, cups and toys. You can even fill squirt guns with dilute food colouring too so that they can paint the snow.

11. Gel window clings

A perfect 20-minute activity whether in the house or travelling in the car. You can get all kinds of gel window clings and let your child create different scenes.

12. Temporary race track

A super easy activity for your children when you need some time alone is to give them rolls of painter’s tape. They can transform the floor into a race track, taking time to design their city and playing until their hearts are content.

Lego cars

Tips to remember!

To get the most out of your 20-minute activities or to create your own, it’s useful to keep these three things in mind:

1) Keep these activities separate from the ‘everyday toys’ – have a draw in the kitchen or a box in one of the cupboards reserved just for these activities that you need when you need 20-minutes to yourself.

2) Rotate the activities – that way, they won’t lose their appeal and you’ll be met with excitement every time you bring them out.

3) Make sure these activities are quick to set up – this just makes your life so much easier!

You deserve some quiet time

As parents, we always have a lot to do and sometimes we just need our quiet time. By having these 12 20-minute activities to hand, you can always make sure that the children are stimulated and entertained while you enjoy no interruptions.

Two little girls hugging and laughing outside

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

How to Prepare Your Child (and Yourself!) for School Separation Anxiety

Is your child starting nursery or school soon? Are you fretting about this day instead of enjoying the anticipation and excitement of this upcoming milestone?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, don’t worry. Many parents and children are in the exact same position as you.

For children, the main source of anxiety around starting nursery or school is that they don’t know what to expect, whereas, with parents, the separation anxiety for them stems from the worry that their child will feel abandoned.

To help you both ease your separation anxiety, it is all about preparing for it; here are our top tips to help you do just that so that you can start this new chapter of your lives together (and apart!) successfully.

Don’t project your worries

You know your child, so if they aren’t prone to clinging or they don’t seem worried when you talk about starting nursery or school, don’t plant worry seeds. There’s a balance between letting them know what to expect and overdoing it, so don’t create stress where there isn’t any and practice calming yourself down if you’re the one that is worrying.

Practice makes perfect

It’s really good for you both if you do some practice separation before the big day. This could be arranging a few hours at a friends house or their grandparents and gradually building up to a whole day away so that you both know that you’ll be okay without each other. Practising being separated can also help you to establish a routine from getting dressed and having breakfast in the morning to creating a special goodbye ritual between the both of you and enjoying the reunited celebrations. It might not sound like much, but you’ll be surprised how much this prepares you both and it takes a lot of stress and anxiety out of the actual day when it comes.

A father kissing his daughter on the cheek

Make the preparations exciting

Your child needs to know that school is exciting, so make the whole experience as positive as you possibly can by building anticipation. We all know the “back to school” ritual so include your children in them and go shopping together for supplies. At home, you can also hang up a calendar and count down the days until the big day. Not only will it make your child excited about school but it will also help you get organised (and less stressed!).

Show them what to expect

Just like your practice separation runs, it is also beneficial for you both if you visit the nursery or school the week before they are due to start. By doing this, you eliminate the fear of the unknown, showing them where they’ll be dropped off, what class they will be in, where they will sit, and who their teacher will be.

A little girl holding her parents' hands

Don’t rush in the morning

Nothing is worse than rushing in the mornings and it can cause great stress and anxiety to the both of you, so avoid it where possible! The night before school starts, get everything ready together and let your child pick their clothes and food so that they know where they are in the morning. Finish the night spending some extra quality time together and make sure you both get an early nights sleep. In the morning, make sure your alarm is set slightly earlier than normal so that you can all take your time.

Do what’s best for them

It can be very easy to let yourself get overwhelmed by the emotion of this milestone, so whenever you feel like you are, try and think of what will be best for your children. You may be tempted to sneak out of the nursery or classroom when your child “isn’t aware” or make promises or bargains that you might not be able to keep, but don’t! The stronger that you are and the more consistent you can make their school routine, the stronger they will be for it. If they need some comfort, let them take a small transitional object such as a note from you or a stuffed animal with them at the beginning.

A child and their teddy bear

Try your best not to feel guilty

As parents, it’s natural to feel guilty about leaving your child but you need to shake this off! These feelings are not good for either of you, so try and turn them into positives. Yes, your child may cry when you leave them but they will stop a lot sooner than you think if you stay strong and reassure them that they are strong too. Try to be as reassuring as you can, saying positive things such as “Remember how afraid you were of the zoo when you first went? Now you love it!” and you’ll teach your children to overcome negative emotions healthily. Lastly, don’t worry if your child starts to regress after starting nursery or school, this is normal and they will get back on track once they are settled in.

 

At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help and advice, see more handy articles from us here:

7 Common Nursery Worries and How to Overcome Them

How to Develop a Peaceful Bedtime Routine

How to Recognise if Your Child is Stressed and What to Do

Advice for parents: helping your children adjust to life after lockdown

First, our children had to adapt to a drastic change in lifestyle – they had to stay indoors, they had to stay away from people when outside, they weren’t allowed to go to school – and now after weeks and months of getting used to this, we are now asking them to adapt again. The thing is, this time, we don’t know what we are asking them to adapt to. So how can we make this easier for them? How can we help them adjust? If you want to know how to help your children adjust to life after lockdown, here are our top tips.

Tip #1 – give them space to share their fears

It’s important that your children feel that they can come to you with any worry they have, no matter how small or big or ‘silly’ it may be, so help them to feel that way. Maybe you could schedule in ‘worry time’ every day as a family? You can just share your worries or you can write them down and throw them away.

Tip #2 – be aware of what they see & hear

Be very aware that your children may hear you talking with other adults or while you’re on the phone and what you say may have an effect on them. It’s also important to know how your children are getting their news, especially older children who are online. Show them the right sites to check where they know that the information is factual and limit their exposure to it every day. The news can be scary, especially now.

Tip #3 – help them focus on control & safety

The Coronavirus is making a lot of changes, changes that make us feel very out of control and anxious as a result. To help your children adjust to life after lockdown, think about ways you can help them feel in control and safe. Things like washing their hands well, exercising and eating healthily to keep them strong, and wearing a mask when they need to.

Tip #4 – talk about all the safety measures

Positivity and reassurance are key to helping your children feel better so talk about all the safety measures and the things that are being done to keep everyone safe. You can talk about what the schools are doing to keep them safe, how doctors and nurses are prepared to treat people who get sick, and how scientists are working to develop a vaccine.

Tip #5 – let them feel what they feel 

Don’t dismiss your children’s feelings. Talk about them and let them know that they are normal and that a lot of other people are feeling the same way. What this does is that it teaches them that stressful times pass and life goes on; it teaches them to be resilient.

Tip #6 – take small steps initially 

Some children may be comfortable with going outdoors and getting back to school but others may be a lot more anxious. However your children are feeling, take it slow. Ease them into the next stage of the pandemic step by step. This will help them adjust at their own pace rather than doing everything all at once.

Help your children adjust to life after lockdown

Helping our children adjust back to ‘normal’ life is going to take time. It may take more time with some than others but if you listen to your children’s fears, then you’ll know just how slowly you’ll have to take the steps to move forward.

There are many things that you can do to reassure and guide your children during this time, but we personally feel that the most important step is to let your children know that what they are feeling is normal and that it’s okay.

 


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

7 ways to support your child when they return to school after lockdown

While it hasn’t been compulsory for parents to send their children back to school these past few weeks, things might change as the schools prepare to reopen in September. As it’s a stressful time for everyone, it’s important that both you and your children feel comfortable and safe when the time comes. So how do you prepare for it? How can you support your children who are returning to school after lockdown?

Returning to school after lockdown: advice for parents

1. Find out how your children feel

Talk to your children about how they are feeling about returning to school after lockdown. Ask them if they are worried or if they are scared about anything, but also ask them what they’re looking forward to and what they are excited about. Whatever your children feel, it’s important to let them know that it’s okay to feel that way and that a lot of other children will feel the same.

2. Help your children prepare for their new routine

Many children are suffering from anxiety, especially in this uncertain time, so help them gain back some control. By finding out as much information as you can about how their new routine in school will work, you can then help them to prepare for it. By simply talking about the new changes that will be in place in school and walking them through the timings and what they’ll do will help massively.

A child with a treasure map

3. Reassure your children

Life is going to be so different in school. For months, children have been learning to stay indoors, to stay 2 metres away from people outside, and to wash their hands regularly. Once they go to school, this will be a massive and quite overwhelming change that they will need to adapt to so reassure them. Talk about the ways they can stay safe in school and let them know that the teachers will be helping them and that everything will be okay.

4. Gradually ease them into their school routine again

As we just mentioned, life has been so different in lockdown so your children’s routines would have changed quite drastically. To help them transition back into their school routine, start to introduce things gradually. For example, start with bedtime and waking up times, then move onto things like winding down in the evening with a book.

5. Think ahead and be positive

Even if you are nervous or anxious, help give your children something to look forward to; help them develop hope and a sense of excitement for the future. At such an uncertain time, it’s easy to get down in the dumps and to dwell on the negative but it doesn’t do any good for anybody. To help your children cope with their feelings and to show them that the current situation won’t last forever, talk about what they are looking forward to and focus on that.

Two toys saying happy and keep on smiling

6. Don’t add extra pressure on yourself

It’s a really difficult time, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Returning to school after lockdown isn’t going to be easy, your children are going to experience ups and downs, and all you can do is your best. All you can do is support them, reassure them, and comfort them. The rest (particularly the homework and a new seamless routine) will come later.

7. Seek support if you need it

As we said, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re finding things really difficult and your children are struggling to adapt to being in school again, reach out and get help. The school will work with you to support your children and your GP can help with their physical and mental health. Don’t struggle alone.

Supporting your children will also help you too

As September draws near, you might find yourself getting worried and anxious about your children returning to school too. That’s completely normal, we’ve all gotten used to a new routine, but it’s time to transition to some resemblance of normality.

If you work hard trying to help your children prepare for returning to school after lockdown; if you reassure them and help them to be positive, what you’ll soon find is that all this will help you to feel better about it all too.


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

Tips for helping your children cope with post-lockdown separation anxiety

Covid-19 has had a negative impact on a lot of things; the economy, society, and travel, just to name a few. There are, however, a lot of effects that are not so obvious, such as the impact it has had on mental health.

One of the biggest impacts it has had is on children, especially now that we are coming out of lockdown and restrictions are gradually being eased. Children have become accustomed to having their parents around 24/7 in lockdown, so just like when they are very young, they are struggling to be separated from them.

If your children are anxious about being away from you and about going back to school, here are our tops tips on how to ease that post-lockdown separation anxiety.

How to ease post-lockdown separation anxiety

To help your children make the adjustment from lockdown to returning to school, here are some simple steps that you can take:

  1. Talk to your children now – start talking to your children about school and other locations they like to go, what they like about them and how much fun they have there. This will remind them to associate these places with happiness instead of fear or anxiety.
  2. Tell them about what you will be doing – your children need to know that you’ll be safe when you’re not with them too, so communicate with them. Talk about what you’ll be doing when you go back to work and about how much you enjoy it.
  3. Re-introduce old routines gradually – your children are likely to have had different bedtimes and playtimes, as well as different food etc, so start the transition back to their old routine. First, start putting them to bed and waking them up as you will do when they are in school. Next, start to separate from your child for brief periods of time (for example, leaving them with an older sibling or a grandparent while you pop out to get the groceries). From then on, start changing things one at a time until they are comfortably back into their old routine. parents and baby reading
  4. Meet with their teacher (either face-to-face or virtually) – if you can, reintroduce your child to their teacher. They will be looking after your children when they return to school so meet with them or have a conversation with your children there. It will allow them to feel comfortable and safe around them.
  5. Meet up with old friends – during lockdown, some friendships will have deteriorated so encourage your child to mix again (as much as possible within the rules). By simply getting them outside and meeting friends at the park, you can allow them to run around and get some separation from you without them feeling anxious about it.

A slow transition now will help them later

If your child is one of the many that are suffering with post-lockdown separation anxiety, help them transition from the lockdown routine to one that resembles their old one as much as possible.

When everyone is back in work and they have to return to school, it may be overwhelming for them so prepare them for it now. Encourage them to get back out into the outside world again as much as possible within the rules and you’ll soon find that they’ll adapt to this new normal and will be able to be away from you without being so anxious anymore.

 


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

Why Reading is So Important in the Early Years

Did you know that children develop more rapidly during the first 5 years of their lives than at any other time? 

It’s true. That’s why this crucial period is known as ‘the foundation years.’

If you nurture certain skills during these first 5 years, you create a solid foundation from which your child can build on for the rest of their life. Think of it as giving them a head start to learning.

Talking about starting right, literacy is one of those skills that parents can nurture in those early years. Why literacy? Because reading and writing are the fundamentals of early education, not to mention that they crop up multiple times every single day. From reading road signs and writing shopping lists to learning a new language, literacy is a skill that is vital for everyone.

But why exactly is reading so important during a child’s early years?

Reasons why reading is important for young children

1. Reading helps to develop a young child’s brain

Vital connections in the brain are made very early in life and when stimulated, these form the basis of all future learning and intellectual ability. To put this simply, reading to your children at a young age stimulates these brain cells and each time it strengthens them and they form connections with even more brain cells. Stimulating your young child’s brain cells through these early experiences will help them to become better listeners, readers, and communicators as well as instilling a lifelong love of learning.

A little boy pointing to a picture book

Discover the 9 Big Benefits of Reading to Your Child!

2. Reading fosters a love of learning which leads to higher grades

Talking about that lifelong love of learning, that is why reading is important at such an early age. When children learn to read at an early age, they have greater general knowledge, a wider range of vocabulary, they are more fluent readers, and they have improved attention spans and better concentration. As well as stronger oral and literacy skills, proficiency in reading also allows young children to understand more, to learn more, and to become competent researchers. As you can imagine, all of these are skills that help young children perform higher in school.

3. Reading has many psychological benefits for young children

Early reading ignites creativity, sparks curiosity, and stimulates the imagination in young children. Often, this leads to role-play as children grow which helps to develop other skills such as empathy, problem-solving, and morality. While these are significant benefits to young children, the biggest psychological benefit is how reading helps to grow self-confidence and independence from such an early age. The simple act of taking time out of the day to read to your baby or sit down with your child helps to promote greater maturity and discipline. These are all so essential when it comes to your child learning to read in a school setting as sometimes the psychological pressure can be too much.

a mother reading a book with her toddler

4. Reading helps boost a young child’s self-confidence

As we mentioned above, there is psychological pressure when learning to read in school. Children have social awareness too, from a young age, so imagine how difficult it must be to see other children picking it up quickly if they are struggling? This can have serious implications for their self-image as they grow and this is why reading is important. If you read with your children early on and help them to learn at their own pace in a fun setting, you can foster a love of reading and help them to become competent and confident at it before having to do it in front of others.

5. Reading will help young children become better writers and communicators 

When you think about why reading is important, you may think of the obvious benefits such as expanding your vocabulary and knowledge but what many people don’t realise is that for young children, it develops so many other skills too. The sooner a child learns to read, the more opportunities they have to encounter the written word. More exposure then leads to better spelling, grammar, writing, and oral communication.

Two young boys reading

Make reading together a part of your daily routine

Now you know why reading is important and all the benefits that it offers, start to make the time to read a little with your children every day. Soon you’ll find that cuddling up in bed reading stories is your favourite part of the day and it’s doing your children a world of good too!

 


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

How to Teach Your Children to Be Positive

Being positive is so much more than just ‘pretending’ that things are fine; it allows us to train our brains to be strong so that we can cope better when times get tough. Times like now. To help your children and yourself keep your mental wellbeing intact during this global pandemic, we want to introduce you to positive affirmations for children. Here is how to teach your children about the power of positivity!

What are Positive Affirmations for Children?

Positive affirmations for children (and mantras) are important tools that children can use to support themselves. They help them develop a healthy sense of self as well as a positive mental-social-emotional mindset.

Put simply, positive affirmations are short, positive statements such as “I am strong” and “I am able.” Affirmations then become mantras when they are repeated over and over to oneself, out loud or silently.

When accompanied by imagining themselves as they are declaring, over time, these statements will become beliefs. Children will believe that they are strong, confident, and able to take on any challenge which, as you can imagine, is great for their wellbeing and self-esteem.

A boy dressed as a superhero

How to Teach Positive Affirmations for Children

Helping our children to use positive affirmations is important, especially now, as it teaches them not only to do their best but to feel good about their efforts. Just like teaching them the importance of eating healthy and exercising, it’s essential that they learn how their thoughts can also shape how they feel and behave.

Here’s how to teach positive affirmations for children:

1. Affirm them yourself

We all tend to hold on to negative or stressful thoughts and experiences, so try to make positive ones more prominent instead. You can do this by looking into your children’s eyes daily or weekly and affirming them with positive statements like “you’re amazing” and “you’re loved so much.” Try to also concentrate on your children’s unique strengths and personality traits instead of what they do or what you expect. And always hug your children to release that all-important oxytocin!

2. Teach children to notice

When helping to use positive affirmations for children, we first need to find out if there are any negative ones that are already going on. Ask your children if they have any negative thoughts. During this difficult time, they may feel scared or think that they can’t concentrate or they are not good enough so it’s important that you help them notice when this pattern of thinking is taking place.

To help explain that negative inner voice to children, compare repetitive thoughts to a song that they may have had stuck in their heads. Help them understand that if they want to change the song, they can. They can just skip it or decide on a song that they like instead. The important thing to emphasise here is that everybody has these negative thoughts or ‘songs’ stuck in their head sometimes and that’s okay. When they notice that they are sad or that they are thinking negatively, then it’s important to find a thought or song that makes them feel happy instead.

For more guidance during this difficult time, see more from us here:

3. Create an affirmation board

Visualisation is essential to help your children turn their affirmations into beliefs, so help them learn this technique. The best way to do this is to create an affirmation board!

On their board, encourage them to write/draw positive things that they believe about themselves as well as things they can’t do yet but want to learn. When they have their board, you can then help them to practice not only saying the positive affirmation but also visualising themselves showing that particular quality or completing that goal (e.g. reading well, building the best lego model etc).

This may sound hard and it will take some work at first, but it is more than worth it. This activity allows children to disengage with negative thinking and attune instead to a positive affirmation. Over time, instead of just imagining, they will feel it in their whole being and you’ll see how empowered they are because of it.

Two little girls hugging and laughing outside

4. Draw affirmations on the mirror

Whether you use sticky notes or washable pens, getting your children to place or draw their affirmations on the bathroom mirror is a great way to make this activity fun. Not only that but every time they look in the mirror, they will see more than just their physical appearance. Subconsciously, their notes and drawings will remind them of all the ways they matter and make a difference in the world.

5. Make your affirmations into songs

We all learn quickly by singing songs so help your children create their own. They can then sing these every day to feel more energised and motivated and most importantly, positive!

This is also a great opportunity to teach them how to change their negative thoughts into positive ones. If they have a negative thought such as “I’m scared,” help them change this by making up your own song about how they are strong and how they can defeat their fears.

6. Add movement to make it fun

Positive affirmations for children need to be engaging so add in some movement to make it fun! You can make up your own dance or get them to act out physically what they are choosing to do mentally. Not only will it motivate your little ones to do their positive affirmations every day, but it will also help them focus and remember them too.

7. Be creative with activities

Get creative with how you can introduce positive affirmations for children into their daily lives.

A child painting

A great activity to help your children learn to treasure themselves is to create your own treasure chest of goodness. You can build a chest together and paint and decorate it with the words “I am” on the top. When this is done, you then need to create the treasure. Cut coin shapes out of cardboard and help your children write positive affirmations on each one such as “I an kind,” “I am helpful” or “I am a good brother/sister.” On the other side of the coins, get them to write down or draw a picture of a real-life example of when they lived this value (such as “I helped to lay the table for dinner”). This will help them truly believe these affirmations.

8. Learn from other experiences

Use the stories from the Big Life Journal or the Famous Failures Kit to help children learn from others’ experiences.  You can ask them how they think these people felt during their hardest moments and what affirmations they must have used to help them get back up and moving towards their goals.

Children are very empathetic naturally, so use stories to help them understand positivity and how it can help to overcome times of failure. Children shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed of failure, so help them understand how it is an essential part of the journey.

Read: Why it is Essential to Encourage a Growth Mindset in Your Children

9. Explore “what ifs?” at storytime

Storytime is a time of family bonding but it is also an excellent opportunity for our children to reflect and learn. Since we are experiencing a very difficult time, try to find an adventure book where the main character has an obstacle to overcome or a specific goal to achieve. You can use this then to reflect with your child and to come up with different ways the story could change depending on what the character chooses to say to themselves. Explore “what if?” scenarios and help your child learn that positivity is important if we are to get through challenges.

mother and daughter reading under the covers

Make positivity a part of your family routine

When children are struggling, it’s essential that we validate their feelings and help them to think positively so that they can help themselves feel better. As parents, we can contribute greatly to teaching them to see the good in people and the events around them, however, it is essential that they learn to self regulate. Using these positive affirmations for children, you can help foster greater self-confidence and a sense of belonging in the world, both of which are essential for their wellbeing as they move through life.

 


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

Well-being Tips to Get You Through the Coronavirus Crisis

Following on from our complete well-being guide – How to Look After Yourself and Your Family During Isolation – we wanted to offer even more guidance to help get you through this difficult time. As you can never get too much support when it comes to well-being, we want to share our top well-being tips with you.

It is incredibly important to take some quality time for you, especially now with the anxiety and stress that the Coronavirus pandemic is causing, so to prioritise your ‘self-care,’ here are a few things that you should be doing every day.

8 well-being tips

1. Set a goal for each day

It doesn’t have to be massive, the goal here is to give you a sense of purpose to your day. With the uncertainty of the Coronavirus, many people are suffering from feelings of helplessness, so try to take back some control and set yourself a clear purpose for the day. What could you accomplish that would make you go to bed happy?

2. Take some time to stretch

It may sound strange but stretching is great for mindfulness; it relieves stress, calms the mind, and makes the body feel far less tight and tense. Spend some time, whatever time of day suits you, to do some yoga or just a simple stretching exercise. It can be something as simple as toe touches or laying on your back and putting your legs straight above you on the wall. Just remember to focus on the present breath and breath deeply and fully to get the full benefits.

mother and daughter doing yoga

3. Be kind to others and tell them how great they are

Everyone is struggling with being socially distant from their loved ones, but we don’t have to be physical to show that we care. Start telling others what is great about them. Communicate with kindness, be creative and support vulnerable family members and others who need it the most.

4. Practice positive affirmations every day

Positive affirmations are positive statements that you say about yourself and your life. By repeating them often, your brain will begin to believe them, and you can start to make positive changes.

To help limit anxiety and boost your self-esteem, start practising positive affirmations every day. For example, take 5 minutes in the morning and say your positive affirmations out loud, display them on your bathroom mirror as a reminder too. It can be something like “I am strong and will get through this” or “today, I will make memories with my family.” You can even try helping your children learn this technique too!

See our Top Tips for Keeping Your Children Well During Self-Isolation

a little boy holding his mother's face

5. Take a break

This is an important one out of our top well-being tips because people often don’t take the right kind of break to properly recharge. Taking a break should involve activities that help you to relax, things that allow your mind to shut off, maybe it involves a change of scenery. Wherever and whatever way you find best to rejuvenate and replenish your energy, make sure you do it as often as possible.

6. Regularly check your SMILE score

We all know that to be healthy, we need to be getting enough sleep, we need to be exercising often and eating healthy, and this is what the SMILE score is all about. It is an easy way for you to check-in with yourself and your family every day. The lower the score, the more we need to support our own well-being or help to support a family member or friend, so check your numbers every day.

Each letter in the word SMILE represents one healthy habit and counts as one point, so the highest well-being score you can get is 5.

S – Sleep. Have you had enough sleep? How is the quality of your sleep? Have you rested and taken some time to relax?
– Move. Have you moved your body today? Have you stretched? Maybe take some time to do something physical with the children.
I – Inhale, exhale. How is the quality of the air you are breathing, for example, have you been outdoors in the fresh air? Have you relaxed, slowing your breathing down?
L – Love and Connect. Have you connected with others today? Have you shown others you care? Have you led with your heart today?
E – Eat to Nourish. How much sugar have you had today? Have you eaten fresh fruit and vegetables? Have you eaten enough? Have you eaten too much? Have you had some water?

By checking in with the SMILE score throughout the day, you can and will improve your overall well-being. For example, if you have scored 2/5, you will know that you need to get more sleep or to drink more water during the day to feel better.

Two toys saying happy and keep on smiling

7. Make time to relax

Taking a break switches off the mind for a period so that you can focus again on important tasks throughout the day. Relaxing offers a whole bunch of other benefits that are essential to our well-being. We know it’s difficult with the stress of the coronavirus, but make time to relax. Relaxing activities, such as taking a bath or reading, serves to restore energy, reduce stress, improve sleep, self-confidence, and self-regulation, and it supports your nervous system and boosts your immune system – both of which are essential right now.

8. Don’t forget to breath

Sometimes you’re going to get overwhelmed, and that’s okay. Just breathe. Take long, deep and slow breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Concentrate on the rising and falling of your chest and count the breaths to concentrate. Something as simple as 10 long, deep breaths can help ground you in any situation.

Make these well-being tips part of your daily ritual

You brush your teeth daily, so make sure to cleanse your mind too. If you implement these well-being tips into your daily routine, you’ll soon see that you will feel far better for it.

 

a planner book

 


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

20 Activities to Keep Your Children Entertained During Lockdown

Wondering how to keep your children entertained during lockdown? Here are some great children’s activities to keep in your pocket!

Many parents are having to juggle life at the moment with one of the most challenging tasks being to school and entertain the children 24/7. Having to do this alone is difficult enough, but when you have to work from home as well, it can feel near impossible. Soon those good intentions of homeschooling, regular exercise, and trying to entertain them with more creative and mind-stimulating activities than them just sitting in front of a screen, starts to fade into a daunting reality.

The good news I can give you is that many, many parents are in exactly the same position and are having both good days and bad. So don’t be too hard on yourself. You don’t have to fill every moment of your children’s day and it’s okay if they sometimes watch a bit too much telly. This is an incredibly difficult time for all of us so the goal should be to ease this in any way that we can – it’s all about balance.

To keep your children both busy and happy during this stressful time, here are our top 20 children’s activities.

20 children’s activities to keep them busy (and you sane)

For toddlers

  1. Water painting the patio – filling up a pot or bucket with water and letting your little ones use paintbrushes to draw shapes on the patio is an easy and fun activity for them. With the hot weather recently, their drawings will dry quickly so that they can start all over again!
  2. Playing with pots, pans and wooden spoons – this may be loud but what child doesn’t love to make noise? Encourage them to bash all kinds of pots so that they can hear how the sound changes.
  3. Get them moving with the Wiggle Waggle series – this BBC movement and literacy series is great for early years learning and it helps burn off some of that energy too!
  4. Make a sensory box – creating a sensory box of everyday household items is more fun for your toddler than you can imagine, plus it’s essential for creativity and gaining an understanding of the world. Here’s a blog to explain more – What Is Heuristic Play and Why Is It Good for Our Children? and a great resource to create your own box.
  5. Read to themreading has substantial benefits for both you and your children so make reading a daily activity or something you do all together before bed.
  6. Make your own indoor objects puzzle game – collect some household objects around your home and draw the outline of them on a piece of paper. Voila! Now you have a simple puzzle where you can help your little one match the object to the shape. Here’s how you can create your own.

A little boy reaching into a toy box

For more guidance during this difficult time, see more from us here:

 

For ages 3-5

  1. Cook some easy recipes together – whether it’s for lunch or baking a cheeky dessert together, find some easy recipes for children and get them involved. They’ll love being a part of the cooking and the eating!
  2. Download some free colouring printables – your good friend Google will provide you with many free pictures that you can print for your children to colour in so get searching. You will be able to find almost any theme whether your children love Disney, pirates, unicorns or space.
  3. Download some free activity sheets – print some fun and educational activities from the Orchard Toys website. They have a bunch of crosswords, word searches, mazes, dot-to-dots, and many more to choose from.
  4. Help your children complete this 30-day lego challenge – you can find the free printable calendar here where it gives your children a building task to do every day.
  5. Design a scavenger hunt – whether in the garden or indoors, make a list of things you have around the house or hide certain objects and make a list of clues for your children to follow so that they can find them. For smaller ones, you can search online for ready-made lists with pictures.
  6. Spend time in the garden – with the weather being so nice, spend time in the garden together. You can involve your children in potting plants and caring for them every day. You can have a water fight or watch the birds together. You can even just let them explore and teach them about what they find. Just remember to wear sun cream!

A little boy throwing a pile of leaves in the air outside

For ages 5+

  1. Join the rest of the nation and do P.E with Joe Wicks – every weekday morning at 9 am, you can join the fitness coach on YouTube where he runs a P.E. session for children. Not only is this fun for the children, but it also gets them moving and burns off that excess energy so that they can focus throughout the day. Other physical activity channels include Cosmic Kids on YouTube where you can do yoga.
  2. Download free educational material – if your children’s school isn’t offering online learning, search for some of your own resources on the internet. Great sites like Scholastic and Twinkl offer many free resources organised by school year and topic.
  3. Earn a Blue Peter badgeBBC’s Blue Peter has a whole list of things that children can do to earn their badges. Children love to achieve and progress, so take a look and join in.
  4. Draw with Rob – every Tuesday and Thursday on Facebook and Instagram, Ace children’s picture book author Rob Biddulph is doing a draw-along. Grab some paper and a pencil and get drawing with him. See his first one here!
  5. Make a stop motion animation video together – these look great and they’re easier than you think, plus they take a long time to make so that’s hours of entertainment sorted!
  6. Help them to learn a new skill – there are many step-by-step guides online so see what takes their interest. Maybe it’s potting plants or painting. Maybe it’s something out there like juggling.
  7. Arrange a Facetime/Skype game with one of their friends – with everyone at home, you could organise a virtual game of Hangman, Charades or a Disney quiz.
  8. Have a family board game tournament – mix up game night by making it into a full-blown tournament. Never before has Cluedo and Monopoly been so exciting.

Pieces on a board game

 

Have a list of children’s activities handy

Keep this list of children’s activities handy and add your own so that you can whip out a fun and exciting activity whenever it is needed!

Children love structure and routine, so consider dividing the days up into a timetable with both educational and fun activities and stick it on the fridge so that everyone knows what to expect. If you balance learning with fun and breaks, you can be sure that your children stay engaged and happy during lockdown.

 


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here:

Your Wellbeing Guide: How to Look After Yourself and Your Family During Isolation

**COVID-19: this article is to help you stay well whilst staying home with children. 

 

While everyone is experiencing a sudden change in their lives and daily routine, it is the parents among us who are put under even more pressure as they balance staying home with children with their full-time job, health worries, and financial concerns, all while caring for the vulnerable members of the family too. Just like the NHS workers on the front line, we also view parents as the unsung heroes of this difficult period and that’s why we wish to help as much as we can.

This has been a really challenging time for families as we near the three-week mark since lockdown and what’s worse, is that we don’t know how long this will go on for. This uncertainty can cause a great deal of anxiety and helplessness, so that’s why we’ve compiled this guide. To help you make your daily life feel as manageable as possible for you and your family, this wellbeing guide contains a lot of tips that you can easily implement into your days. Here’s how to cope with isolation and how to look after yourself and your family, all whilst staying home with children for the longterm.

Tips for coping with isolation

We are not meant to be stuck indoors and made to stay still, especially for so long, so this period is inevitably going to feel stressful at times. Always remember in those moments, that that’s okay. Things are incredibly rubbish and we need these bad days to let some of that negative emotion out so that we can have some good days.

Parents and child's feet sticking out of the bed covers

Here are essential tips for coping with isolation:

  1. Keep a routine as much as possible – whether it’s your normal routine or a new one, stick to it every day. You might not think that making the bed, putting on clothes, washing your face and brushing your teeth is important, especially when you don’t have to do it, but it’s never been more important. Making a routine for your family will make them feel in control which is essential for their wellbeing during a time of such uncertainty. It can greatly reduce anxiety and helplessness and will give them some meaning to their day. For example, a meal plan might help to structure your days, breaking up the time and giving your family regular opportunities to gather together.
  2. Get outside where possible and exercise together every day – movement boosts our mood and helps us sleep, both of which are essential to wellbeing so make sure the family is active. This can be going for a walk in your allowed hour outside, playing football in the garden or joining in with the Joe Wicks exercise videos for children called “P.E. with Joe.” Remember, the government is currently advising that people can go outside with people they live with once a day for exercise – as long as no one in the household is showing symptoms or has a condition that means they need to isolate more strictly.
  3. Connect online with your family and friends – we are very social animals, so without being able to physically connect, we need to make sure that we are connecting virtually to promote our wellbeing and that of our vulnerable family members. Consider using free apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook, Facetime, Zoom, and Skype to help combat loneliness. You can even find online activities for your children to participate in too – such as science, yoga, dance etc – helping them stay entertained and giving you opportunities for a quick break.
  4. Spend quality time together as a family – whilst staying home with children for a long time is difficult plus the added stress of isolation on top of that, the last thing you need is to put even more pressure on yourself or your family. So just make the most of this opportunity for family time. Do activities together that help you bond such as playing games, cooking together, and reading at bedtime. Show interest in your children’s hobbies and learn a new skill together. Limit screen time and create a boredom jar! Fill it with pieces of paper containing their favourite indoor activities and any new ideas and let them pick one out in moments of boredom or struggle.
  5. Limit your exposure to social media and the news – this goes for both you and your family. Hearing constant negative news is really bad for our mental health and wellbeing, so take a step back from it. Dedicate one or two time slots in the day to check for any important updates and leave it there. You won’t miss anything by not constantly checking but it will make a massive impact on your ability to cope.

parents and baby reading

Tips for looking after yourself

There’s a reason why they say “put your oxygen mask on first before your child’s” in the flight safety speech, and that’s because you can’t take proper care of your children unless you care for yourself first. The same goes for isolation, sometimes your self-care needs to be the priority. Once you have taken some time to recharge and refuel, then you will have the strength and energy to take good care of everyone else.

Here are essential tips for taking care of yourself during isolation:

  1. Don’t be so hard on yourself – you don’t have to feel fine or normal, it’s okay to feel worried, stressed and anxious during this time. Pretending to feel different to how you actually feel is exhausting so try your best to accept it and to find healthy ways to let it go (e.g. exercise, meditation, mindful breathing or talking to someone).
  2. Keep a daily routine for you as well – routine is just as important for you as it is for your family so map out the best way to fit in school work with family time, exercise, meals, and your work and me-time. You won’t be able to follow this every day and change is avoidable but having some sort of structure in place will help you feel more grounded.
  3. Stay connected with your parents, your friends, and maybe even your children’s friends parents too – you may not feel like it a lot of the time but making the effort to speak to people will make you feel so much better afterwards. Keep in touch regularly with the people who make you happy and who lift you up.
  4. Take time out – it might be really difficult to find time for yourself when staying home with children but you really need to make your own self-care a priority. Your children need you to be at the top of your game so do something for you each day. Maybe it’s before they even get up or right after they’ve gone to bed. Whatever works for you, make time for that soak in the bath, for your exercise for that Netflix episode you want to watch or that book you want to read. Consider trying meditation or mindfulness too as this has huge benefits for your mental health. They have special courses for children too!
  5. Seek support and ask for help if you need it – keep in touch with your GP by phone or online if you need to, and make use of helplines and other organisations that may still be able to offer online or phone support. Your mental health needs to be a priority so it’s okay if you’re finding it hard – as long as you ask for help.
  6. Do not compare yourself to others – everyone manages differently so try not to compare yourself to what other families are doing and the way they are handling this. All this does is make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. Avoid any negative (and unnecessary) feelings by listening to your gut – what do you feel is right for you and your family?
  7. Remind yourself that you are doing your best – as a parent, you can only do so much. You will get frustrated and stressed sometimes, you will break down and you will need some time for yourself. All of this is normal and it’s okay. You don’t have to be superman juggling a full school curriculum for your children whilst doing your work and trying to keep life normal. It’s not. You can only do your best at this time so remind yourself of that often.

a little boy holding his mother's face

Tips for looking after your family

It’s going to be a challenge having everyone inside for so long and there will be arguments. This is inevitable but there are things that you can do to lessen this occurrence and to keep everyone as well as possible during isolation.

Here are essential tips for looking after your family during isolation:

  1. Listen to each of your children and find out what will help them as individuals – if you need more support, read our blog: Top Tips for Keeping Your Children Well During Self-Isolation.
  2. Respect your child’s boundaries (especially with teenagers) –  although finding ways to connect and spend time together is important during this time, personal space is important too. Try not to be on top of each other 24/7 and if your child doesn’t feel like talking, let them know you’re there and wait until they’re ready.
  3. Be patient with each other – encourage patience during this time and try to get everyone to focus on gratitude. Helping them to see the positives in the situation will help them greatly in any future life challenges that they have.

Wellbeing should be the number one priority

As parents, you will often be thinking about your children’s health, wellbeing and feelings first – but remember you are just as important. Think back to that flight safety speech with the oxygen masks, only when you take care of your needs first can you continue to support your children.

This is going to be a really difficult and challenging time so don’t be too hard on yourself. Everybody’s wellbeing needs to be a priority now so that you all make it through this time as happy and healthy as you possibly can.

mother and daughter doing yoga


At Schoolhouse Daycare, we enjoy learning, encouraging confidence and we love life! If you think your child would enjoy life at Schoolhouse, then please do not hesitate to arrange a visit.

 

Need more help or advice? Find more from us here: