There’s no denying we live in a strange world right now with even our kids having the words lockdown and Covid in their vocabulary. As we all try and ride out this time as best we can, juggling work with homeschooling and running our households – keeping toddlers and preschoolers entertained is a challenge, to say the least.
More often than not we end up putting them in front of the TV for a little peace and quiet and before we know if their time spent in front of the box or on the iPad adds up and so does our guilt.
We know excessive screen time isn’t ideal for our little ones, and of course, we get them outside and active as much as we can. But we also know that these are unprecedented times and we all just need to relax the rules and go easy on ourselves.
So whilst we know the screen-time is all but unavoidable right now one thing we can do is try and make sure the time they are on devices is still helping their little brain thrive.
Sometimes you just need to put on their favourite movie and let them switch off and enjoy it – because it’s all about finding the joy in the little things right now! But we’ve also rounded up some great apps and online activities, (a mix of free and paid) for little minds to be active participants rather than passive observers or mindlessly clicking away at a screen.
1. ABC Reading Eggs
ABC Reading Eggs is a firm favourite with parents everywhere and for good reason. The platform has won multiple awards and is a great way for kids aged 2 and up to build the foundations of literacy and for the bigger kids to continue developing their skills and nurturing a love of reading. They offer a 30-day free trial which is a great way to try before you buy.
ABC’s Mathseeds also has your little one’s numeracy covered and is a fun and interactive way for little ones to learn all about numbers and counting.
2. Nat Geo Kids Club
The National Geographic kids club is full of online games and activities, stories and even recipes kids can enjoy from animals and geography to science, nature and history. There are
3. Get Wild home
The Wild at Home Hub aims to keep little brains enthralled with at-home activities and entertainment from their SEA LIFE Aquarium and WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. From storytime with the animals and colouring-in printouts for the littlest ones, to keeper talks, craft projects and easy science experiments for the bigger kids.
4. Cosmic Kids yoga
Just because the kids are on screens doesn’t mean they have to be sitting down. Cosmic kids yoga is a great way to incorporate a little movement and mindfulness into your little one’s screen time. You can watch free on YouTube or download their app and your child will love the interactive adventures which help them build strength, balance and confidence and have a little fun too.
ABCYa is a free website is full of fun for little minds, it is broken down into age and categories and helps kids with counting, numbers, patterns and more.
6. NASA Kids’ Club
Budding astronauts will love the Nasa kids club – and is full of online activities as well as printouts, puzzles and colouring sheets they can also take offline. And it’s all space-themed of course!
7. Oxford Owl
This award-winning site based on the UK curriculum is full of age-based activities for children aged 3 and up to help with literacy and numeracy skills. It has activities, e-books as well as expert advice for parents.
8. Audiobooks or online story time
Just because it’s screentime doesn’t mean it has to be visual. Pop an audiobook on for your little one or get loved ones to film themselves reading, or arrange a zoom and let your little ones sit and listen to someone else read them a story while you get some work done (or enjoy a few moments of peace!)
8. Set up Zoom playdates
Just because the littlest ones don’t have the homeschooling Zoom classes like the bigger kids doesn’t mean they should miss out. You can arrange playdates with their friends or other kids from daycare. A little structure is helpful for the younger ones so organise for everyone to do show and tell or share some news or something they have made. They can even play interactive games together over zoom or have a musical jam-sesh (although you might need some noise-cancelling headphones if you’re trying to work with that one!)
We’re all at the point of lockdown where we are tired and lacking inspiration but mixing up how your child is having screen time can not only help them explore different activities, it might just keep them interested and occupied for a little longer because it’s new and fresh. And if it’s helping them learn to read or count in the process that’s an added bonus!