- Alex's Advice
- Family Fun
Back in the 1970s, a comic artist came up with the perfect visualization of someone who sits around and watches a lot of television: couch potato. The reasoning? If a person spends too much time passively watching a screen, they can become more vegetable-like than human.
Fast-forward 50 years -- smack into the middle of a global pandemic that is keeping everyone indoors and on screens -- and the term still hits home hard. Most people have grown more sedentary, more isolated, and more attached to technology over the past year, to the point where it feels like we’re literally rooted in place.
This time of screens and social isolation has been hard on everyone, but it is especially difficult for children with complex challenges.
These children rely on interaction, engagement, and physical movement in order to maintain important gross, fine motor, and social skills. So how can parents help their children maintain their skills and stay active when the world is shut down?
Here are seven safe, socially-distanced activities you can do with your child with complex challenges to keep them moving, growing, and shining, even during these isolating times.
#1: Go for a nature stroll.
A walk through nature is always a good idea, no matter the weather. Bundle up in season-appropriate clothing and find a local park to walk through. While there, you can birdwatch, collect leaves, dig holes, or simply stroll. The stimulation, fresh air, and exposure to new experiences will work wonders on your child’s energy and attitude.
#2: Learn a new skill.
Does your child have any interests that can be fostered, either through books, resources, or even virtual mediums that are interactive rather than passive (such as classes on Outschool)? Now is the perfect time to help them learn a new skill to keep their social skills up, whether it be dog training, or a virtual book group, or exploring Dungeons & Dragons.
#3: Have family movie nights.
Although watching television can be pretty passive, a themed family movie night can be a fun, social experience. Consider creating a movie-theater feel at home by having your child help you make popcorn or a candy counter. You can even pair a family craft or game with the movie’s topic. (For example, there are tons of Star Wars activities available on Pinterest!)
#4: Write a letter.
Now is the perfect time for your child to find a pen pal! This could be a school friend, a family member, or a neighbor. Your child will practice OT and social skills while writing letters -- and it’s so fun to get mail in return!
#5: “See” the world.
It’s still possible to do some family exploring while staying at home. As a family, select a topic from AirB&B Experiences to “experience” together -- such as learning about Great White Sharks from a marine biologist in South Africa. Whatever your child is interested in, there’s something new to explore.
#6: Bake with friends (through Zoom!).
A Zoom baking party is a great way to reinforce social and fine motor skills, practice math, follow directions, and connect with others. The best part: it ends with desserts for everyone!
#7: Go fishing, or fly kites.
These somewhat solitary activities can get your child outdoors and focused on a specific task. They’re great activities to try because they can be done during both mild winter days and the hottest times of summer.
Those are just seven ways to stay off the sedentary couch and to connect, learn, and engage safely while socially distanced -- but we want to hear from you.
What are your favorite ways to keep your child with complex challenges learning and growing during this time? Share your ideas in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook or Instagram.