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How to keep kids busy during school closures

Earlier this month Gov. Inslee closed Washington schools for a minimum of 6 weeks—March 17 through April 24—to slow the spread of COVID-19.Some school districts sent students home with learning materials and online resources. Many parents have started their own homeschooling plans.

But you may be wondering how else to keep your children entertained and engaged during this time.

We have ideas for you.

Get active.

Regular physical activity is good for children and adults. It decreases the risk of many health conditions—and improves your mood, too.

Going outside is still allowed under Gov. Inslee’s March 23 “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Just maintain social distancing. Keep 6 feet between you and people who don’t live in your household.

Take a walk around your neighborhood with your family. Find a quiet park or trail where you can maintain social distancing. Create a safe obstacle course in the backyard.

Provide structure but be flexible.

Create a schedule with educational activities and for-fun activities like arts and crafts. Make sure to include breaks.

Schedule screen time.

It may be tempting to watch more TV to pass the time. Continue to enforce healthy screen habits. Set a time limit on screen use. Avoid screens 1 hour before bed.

Look for learning opportunities.

Check out e-books from a library app. Start a household book club. You can find discussion questions for many books online.

Create a reward system or sticker board to encourage children to help with household chores and practice good handwashing habits. Remember—20 seconds with soap and water.

Model good habits.

Encourage children to wash hands frequently, especially before eating and after being outside. Remind them not to touch their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

Make household tasks learning opportunities. Involve kids in things they normally don’t do—like making a recipe, cleaning their toys or disinfecting frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs and light switches.

Reinforce social distancing, not social isolation. Get family members you can’t see in person on video chat. Stream a movie together—remotely—and create a group text thread to discuss it. Host virtual play dates on Skype or Zoom.

Take advantage of the free time

It may seem like a long road ahead but consider it a chance to get creative with your children. Invent new games, tackle a craft project or reorganize a long-neglected toy box or closet.

Most important, don’t be too hard on yourself if not every day is productive. We are in new territory and could all stand to be kind and patient with each other.