South Africa’s official lockdown status until 16 April means no one can go to school or work unless they work for essential services – everyone is required, by law, to stay at home. This call by President Cyril Ramaphosa is a measure to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The early closure of schools has meant that parents need to get more involved in their children’s teaching and learning – a responsibility many have spoken of dreading.
But there are many ways parents can keep their little ones entertained throughout the lockdown period.
'Screen time is not the answer'
Occupational therapist Ingrid van der Westhuizen believes parents can’t come out on the other side sane unless they have a planned routine for their kids. She says screen time is not the answer either.
“One of the biggest disadvantages of TV/iPad is the time you’re missing out on to do other, more beneficial, activities. There has been a lot of research that indicates the negative impact of screen time on the brain. I don’t think that impact of too long or too early exposure to electronics should be underestimated,” she tells DRUM.
Parents don’t need to plan everything down to the last detail, Van der Westhuizen says.
“You don’t have to plan it to the last minute. I’ve made a schedule for my daughter using pictures. We have morning exercise from 7.45am to 8.15am, then 8.30am is academic or crafts time. Academic time includes things like puzzles, maths or work sheets. 12pm is swimming time and at 4pm we have a family game or activity. By giving the day some structure, my daughter also feels more relaxed because she knows what to expect from the day.”
How to put together a daily routine
If you’re wondering what to include in your daily routine, wonder no more.
“A daily routine should include your basic activities of daily living, for example dressing, eating, brushing teeth and combing hair. On a normal day we might help our children with these tasks, but I think now we must try to encourage their independence in these tasks.
“Try to add some new activities like making the bed or have them make their own sandwiches. It’s important the daily schedules work for your family, so sit together and be intentional about how you can divide your time between work activities and spending quality time with the kids. A child benefits much more from 30 minutes of quality time than an hour of divided attention,” the Midrand-based therapist says.
Van der Westhuizen believes you’ll never go wrong with the following activities: “For younger children: skipping rope, swinging, making a type of obstacle course or treasure hunt in the garden. You can never go wrong with colouring or puzzles.
“Older children like board games, baking, creating something from nothing (like a robot using boxes), doing tasks for pocket money like washing the car or cleaning around the house,” she adds.
'A place in the kitchen'
Chef and cookbook author Zanele Van Zyl says there’s a place in the kitchen for every child regardless of their personalities.
“After all the homework and all the playing, they must eat and what better way of further stimulating their little brains than inviting them to the kitchen?” Zanele quips.
Her tips on how to do that?
“Make cooking interesting and cook with bright ingredients. If they’re old enough, make them do the chopping so they feel more involved. Always put them on tasting duty and let them taste as you go,” she adds.
Fool-proof flapjack recipe
Below is Chef Zanele’s fool-proof flapjack recipe that’s sure to please your little people.
1 cup (250ml) self-rising flour
½ teaspoon (2,5ml) salt
1 ½ cup (375ml) milk
Mix all the ingredients together to form a batter that is thick and smooth.
Fry spoonfuls of the batter for 2 minutes on each side in a lightly greased pan over medium heat.
Serve with Easter eggs or melted chocolate.