With the coronavirus pandemic forcing many communities to close schools and child daycare centers out of the concern for caution, parents and other caregivers have been left looking for ways to keep kids occupied and continuing their education while at home. For many families, this can create a challenge. But experts say that it is important to keep things as routine as possible for children and to find positive ways to engage them and redirect any negative thoughts or feelings they may have.

Dr. Stephen Green, assistant director for AgriLife Extension’s Family and Community Health Unit, says that there are many beneficial activities that individuals and families can engage in while at home. Some indoor activities can include reading books with your child, playing board games and involving kids in fun and engaging physical exercises to keep them moving.

This is a good time to participate in family activities such as cooking and eating meals together. Taking a walk around the house, gardening or completing arts and crafts projects. During this time, it is important for children to remain physically and mentally active to avoid becoming bored and inactive.

AgriLife Extension has a publication to help young children engage: the Alphabet Activities booklet. This has 26 activities adults can participate in with their children. This book was designed for daycare providers and teachers, but it is something that older youth can enjoy as well. The activities use everyday household items such as paper, plastic balls, beach towels and sheets.

4-H has many activities available to youth on the Texas 4-H website. There is a 4-H Healthy Living Activity Guide that has 30 interesting and engaging hands on activities to help kids develop good habits and live a healthy life.

Texas 4-H will be hosting fun and educational videos under the Texas 4-H Virtual Experience on the Texas 4-H Facebook page at 10 a.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through late April.

For parents or caregivers who want to teach children some basic cooking skills and how to prepare some easy recipes, AgriLife Extension has a Dinner Tonight website that provides hundreds of recipes and also include instructional videos.

Keep your family active. The Walk Across Texas program has just begun in Parker County it is not too late to participate. Visit Walkacrosstexas.org for information and resources for kids.

Gardening with your kids may also be some great ways to spend time with your children. The Junior Master Gardener program has some really good resources for teachers and parents to help their children.

Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife extension agent

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