With schools being closed and homeschooling becoming a necessity, kids find themselves spending more time indoors and in front of screens. And, although parents try to limit it as much as possible, there are only so many options when you have to stay in.
Of course, there are the traditional activities of doing homework, reading, coloring and playing with toys. You can also try to include your children in daily activities, such as cooking and cleaning. This is the perfect opportunity for them to learn and participate in the process, while developing and learning new skills.
But, kids also like to spend time online or in front of screens, so make the best of these moments and use platforms and apps geared toward kids to engage them and keep their minds active. To that end, we put together a list of ideas for you and your kids to share some interactive, productive screen time.
Educational Apps & Platforms
National Geographic Kids is a platform developed by National Geographic that features books, videos and games with facts about nature and science — all catered to kids. It’s a great resource for educational screen time, as it stimulates curiosity and presents the world in an attractive way to children.
Developed by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, Storyline Online is a platform with a multitude of stories read by actors, accompanied by beautiful, creative illustrations. For your next screen time, rely on a story to simulate creativity and focus.
Ology is a science website for kids, brought to you by the American Museum of Natural History. It covers a wide array of topics, from anthropology and archaeology to physics and zoology. Here, you can find games, quizzes and tutorials for hands-on activities to do with your kids and spark an interest in science. It also features videos and stories.
LightBot is an app conceptualized as an introduction to programming. It features games and puzzles built on programming logic and derived from sequencing, overloading and others. Plus, its minimalistic design is perfect for developing problem-solving skills.
Oxford Owl offers resources for parents to further develop skills for their children — whether that’s spelling, reading or mathematics. The site has worksheets and ideas, as well as other activities for children. It also features a large eBook library with categories for readers from ages 4 to 11.
BrainPop provides a platform for homeschooling or remote learning with videos, quizzes, vocabulary sections, games and suggested reading on a variety of topics. It also serves as a portal for students, parents and teachers from kindergarten through high school. What’s more, the site is offering free access during the school closure due to COVID-19.
Another platform for remote learning, Epic! is also providing free access to students and educators during this period when schools are closed. It offers resources specifically for reading, with an abundance of online books in its library. Epic! also provides videos and quizzes, along with resources from teachers for lesson-planning and structuring for parents who want a more methodical learning time.
Entertainment & Leisure Time
For leisure and entertainment, PBS Kids offers many games and cartoons for children of different ages, and you can install the app on tablets or other devices. Plus, its section for grown-ups features advice on how to plan activities for kids, as well as other general resources like printables, craft guides and quizzes.
YouTube Kids is a kid-friendly alternative to the general platform where you can find videos suitable for a certain age group. As a parent, you can choose from different levels of control over the content your children can watch to make sure all videos are appropriate. Here, you’ll find a lot of cartoons, songs and educational videos for your children.
Little Sports is a YouTube channel with kid-friendly workout routines. As you spend more time indoors, exercise is crucial, and having a colorful resource that kids find attractive is a sure way to get them to work out. Exercise along with them to keep them engaged!
Overall, try to limit screen time to an hour or two per day. For instance, consider presenting your kids with a couple of options you’ve selected in advance and let them choose between them. This will also make them more receptive and likely to remain engaged in their activity.
Finally, don’t forget that balance is very important, so build a little variation into what the children do every day. A general routine is important — such as getting up at a certain time, following a hygiene and nutrition plan, and assigning time for home schooling. However, other activities should be, if possible, a little different every day in order to avoid monotony and boredom.