With Easter holidays upon us, we ask our Education Advisor Claire Bagnall to share her thoughts on screen-free activities to help keep your little bears busy. Here are some of her ideas - we hope they help!
With restrictions continuing due to coronavirus, there is more pressure than ever on parents and carers to keep children occupied at home. But, having just concluded a long period of home schooling, often involving a substantial amount of time spent engaging in online lessons and learning activities, many have grown concerned about the impact of the increasing proportion of children's time being spent on screens.
There is no doubt that some use of screens can open doors to a great many learning opportunities for our children, provide rich sources of information and, without a doubt, they have played a vital role in enabling many of us to keep in touch with each other over the last year or so. But, having ackowledged the value of screens in learning, I think now is the ideal time to take a step back, and audit what resources we have to sustain our children's learning (and fun!) that can liberate them from the screens, even if only temporarily.
I have long believed that the single most important thing you can do to promote your child's learning is to read with them. This can take many forms, including discussing the pictures, reading cover to cover, reading just part of the story and asking your child to consider different possible story lines or your child reading and you listening. The ideal way to ensure that your child has the opportunity to take as much ownership of this precious time together is to ensure they have access to books that are pitched at their reading ability, such as those included in The Bear Can Read boxes, whilst also enriching this with a wide variety of other books to be explored alongside that may need more input from you.
With spring well on the way, embrace the world's biggest free educational resource and source of children's entertainment: the outdoors. You don't need to venture far from your own home to make the most of this. If you are fortunate enough to have your own back garden or balcony, or if not, are able to create a window box, then you already have a great deal to tap into right on your doorstep. Children take great pleasure in planting things and watch with excitement as their seedlings grow. Such activities not only promote knowledge of science but also lay the foundation for an understanding of their role in caring for other living things.
Sometimes, simply taking an activity that would otherwise have been completed indoors can evolve into something completely different when it is taken outside. Instead of trying to draw a model, why not place the model on a piece of paper to see what shadow it casts from the sun, and then try to draw around the shadow? Ask your child to repeat the activity a little later in the day to see if the shadow appears in the same place on the paper to the drawing completed earlier.
Finally, it is hard to go wrong with open ended activities that foster creativity and a sense of accomplishment. Many children enjoy building. There are numerous sets that are available for purchase to promote this. But have you thought about utilising what you may already have at home for this? Making spaceships out of old boxes from deliveries, creating a fort out of the sofa cushions or a tent using a sheet, a few pegs and some dining chairs? The possibilities are endless...and endlessly fun. And none of them involve a screen.