On the 16th of March 2020, the Malaysian government declared a partial lockdown on our beloved nation which would last until the 14th of April 2020. Formally known as the ‘Movement Control Order’ (MCO), the two-week restriction order implements strict rules such as the compulsory closure of schools and businesses such as restaurants and shopping malls. As with the closure of schools, working parents during the MCO are instructed to work-from-home and are only allowed to go outside to pick up essential needs such as replenishing food supplies and groceries.

Working from home might be a dream to many working people, but for parents, it can prove to be a nightmare. However, managing your kids while trying to meet work deadlines and have conference calls can be made easy with these tips! Here are five ways to keep your kids occupied and entertained during a lockdown:

1- Propose a Structure

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Similar to school, your kids will be able to follow some kind of schedule at home. You can either come up with your own daily routine for your kids, or you can simply mimic their school timetable. Maintain the same timing for breakfast, snack time, and lunch in order to make it easier for you to prepare meals for the kids. This will definitely keep them at bay as hungry kids will always pester you for a snack.

You can adjust the daily routine by balancing entertainment and education for your kids so they won’t miss much when they are away from school. Here’s a tip: Try to contact their teacher to ask whether he/she has prepared worksheets that they can email to you so you could print at home for your kid’s revision before going back to school.

2- Home-Based Hobbies

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This may be more suitable for toddlers and preschool-aged children. While learning is important, it is also beneficial to make use of this time to cultivate new hobbies within your kids. At a very young age, there many things that your kids have yet to discover. To prevent them from being glued to the screen or gadgets for two weeks straight, engage with your kids and find out their best interests.

All it takes is five minutes of conversation and observation and you will be able to find out what they lean to in terms of hobbies and interests. Try your best to keep them away from any hobbies that involve gadgets. For example, you may simply give them craft supplies and a bunch of stationeries, or even playdough could keep your kids occupied for hours on end.

3- Learn at Home

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Obviously, missing school for two weeks due to a compulsory lockdown might seem harmless. In reality, kids experience a wide range of emotions when they have to return to school after long holidays.

Research has shown that kids develop attachment to home after only two days of being absent from school and after a week, most kids forget the things that they have learned in school if there is no practice being given at home to revise and retain whatever that is last taught at school before leaving. This is why it is important for parents to find ways to prevent any disruptions in their kids’ learning progress when away from school for long periods of time.

There are many ways to do this. Apart from the asking for worksheets or homework which I have suggested earlier, parents can seek at-home educational kits that allow for learning to take place at the comfort of your own home. The ALFA and Friends’ Spark Kit is one of the many examples of educational kits out there which supplies your kids with quality learning materials and tools which can be carried out at home. The Spark kit focuses on hands-on Science experiments and teaches your kids about Science in theory, as well as, Science in practice. Apart from that, the Spark kit can be purchased as individual boxes and in monthly subscriptions (kids science subscription) of 4 or 8 months to ensure a structured and continuous learning for your kids.

4- Encourage them to be Little Helpers

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So, your work shift is done and it is time to do the house chores. But your kids are still bugging you every 10 minutes to ask for a snack, what day it is, what time it is, can you tie my hair, so on and so forth. How about inviting them to chip in when doing the house chores?

It’s simple. If you are mopping the floors, you can ask your kids to wipe the tables instead. Make it fun. Be creative with it such as turning the house chores into a game. This is called ‘gamification’, a modern learning approach which according to Wikipedia, “is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts”. It is sure to get the job done and keep your kids entertained at the same time.

5- Do It Together

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Take turns. It is not easy working and parenting at the same time. Kids don’t stick to shifts when it comes to managing their behaviour, feeding them, and taking care of their essential needs such as education and sleep. Don’t blame yourself if things get out of hand, it’s definitely normal. Even teachers require assistant teachers to ensure the class runs smoothly without any disruptions from having to manage the students.

Talk to your partner about the situation and set up a tag team. With the help of the internet, even single parents, can overcome the battle of working-from-home with kids. Set up a routine of daily activities and you are good to go.

Most importantly, remember to stay calm and don’t get too overwhelmed during the lockdown. Together, by being safe, maintaining good hygiene habits, and staying at home, we will be able to beat the virus.

Take care and goodluck!

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