Keep children productive and engaged

Sunday May 17 2020

Create a timetable that incorporates reading,

Create a timetable that incorporates reading, chores and play time. This is a perfect way to keep children engaged. INTERNET PHOTO  

By Carolyne B. Atangaza

Children are struggling with the disruption of their daily routines caused by the lockdown. Not being able to go to school every day or spend time with their friends must be a challenging moment for them. Children, especially during this time, will become restless, stressed and they might start acting up or eating compulsively as a way of coping.

According to Dr Edward Mugisha, one of the greatest causes of stress among children is change. Children need stability and a sense of continuity. They need assurance that whatever they know and love is protected.

To allay children’s fears, Dr Mugisha encourages parents to create an environment where their child is able to talk to them about their problems and feelings honestly. One of the most important and effective ways human beings can deal with stress is by talking to someone about their problem. Even if your child is unable to specifically express what they are upset about, encouraging them to talk can make a difference.

As the World Health Organisation guides, parents and caregivers should look for activities that will limit the number of hours children are spending on screens. Faustino Ssempijja, a father of two children, says he is rediscovering his love for art and teaching his children to draw and paint.

“Children learn best through imitation. If you want them to do something show them instead of telling them. Every afternoon I give my children an art lesson; we paint, draw and create some crafts. It is so engaging,” Ssempijja shares.

This, he says has given him a chance to bond with his children and learn more about their abilities. Ssempijja also uses this time with his children to answer their questions about what is happening.

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“While we want children to be inspired and creative, we do not want their academic progress to be sacrificed to the comforts of home,” says Ssempijja.

As of last week, the Ministry of Education announced the release of the basic concepts to study, harmonised learning materials for use in the continuity of learning while learners are at home. The father of three encourages parents to create an environment that enables to learn even when they are at home.

“Children respond to routines, discipline and organisation. Create an environment that incorporates all these elements. Start by creating a timetable just like what they are accustomed to at school. Assign a specific time when you will start and end lessons every day. Look at the materials you have and assign time for each topic and subject.

Remember to give yourself breaks between subjects. Do not go to the next topic unless you are sure the first topic was properly understood,” he suggests.

While helping children with their school work, Ssempijja urges parents to practice restraint and patience. “Children are adjusting to the new conditions. Give them a time to learn and adjust. The idea is keep them engaged in the daily routine of learning. Be kind to your children. Promote independence, allow them to choose when and what to learn.

This will inspire them to do individual research and discover things on their own,” he advises.

Lucy Abodo, a mother, says she has used this time to teach her children things she is usually too busy to do.

“I am teaching my children the importance of values such as kindness and empathy. We are also learning practical skills such as how to keep their clothes organised, mopping, organising their rooms, learning how to make simple meals for themselves. These are valuable skills our fast paced life cannot allow us to teach our children,” she shares.

Abodo says to keep her family free from boredom and exhaustion, she makes weekends a special time. “We plan different activities that incorporate every family member’s interest. We watch a family movie and karaoke every Friday. Saturday is reserved for sports; a football or basketball match. We also play board games and puzzles with the young ones,” she relates.

Hope Nabunya, a mother, suggests the following to keep children engaged. Encourage them to ask questions
Questions such as how can I? Why should it? What would happen if? How can I make this, or how can I change this? Keep young minds alert and open to learning new things.

Set challenges for them

Whatever their competences are, challenge them to get to the next level. If they enjoy reading give them a certain number of books they should read in a week. If they are interested in cooking, challenge them to come up with a new dish for the family. This will keep their creative juices flowing.

Decision-making

Now that you have time, tackle those home projects you have been putting on hold. Involve them in reorganising the home.

Look out for red flags

According to Dr Edward Mugisha, one of the greatest causes of stress among children is change. Children need stability and a sense of continuity. They need assurance that whatever they know and love is protected.

To allay children’s fears, Dr Mugisha encourages parents to create an environment where their child is able to talk to them about their problems and feelings honestly. One of the most important and effective ways human beings can deal with stress is by talking to someone about their problem. Even if your child is unable to specifically express what they are upset about, encouraging them to talk can make a difference.

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