Playing catch-up


Whether children are still being home-schooled, or have returned to the classroom, parents worry about all the learning they may have missed out on. Grant Smith, VP of Education at kids coding dojo Code Ninjas, suggests some activities that will encourage children to embrace additional learning and exercise both their bodies and minds.

Grant says: ‘The key to unlocking learning potential is encourage children of all ages to explore their own creativity and feel responsible for their own productivity. This can give parents more autonomy to get on with their day, whether that’s working from home or household tasks. I’m a dad of two, so I know only too well how difficult it can be to set your children up with the right activities at the right time, and make sure they’re getting enough physical exercise too. Remember that any time you spend teaching your child is valuable. This is about encouraging your child to strive to reach goals and maintain some form of routine. Anything else is simply a bonus.’

Here are some of Grant’s go-to tasks and strategies:

  • Help them organise their day

Start the day with a healthy breakfast, equipping the whole family with the brain food needed to tackle a new morning. Encourage children to help take ownership of their routine by making their own colour-coded schedule, blocking out time for different activities. Grant suggests no longer than 30 minutes per ‘lesson’ for children aged four to seven – be sure to include a break of five-10 minutes between sessions.

  • Study breaks…

Don’t rely on the familiarity and convenience of the TV during downtime. It can be easier said than done, but there are plenty of fun and active games you can play inside. Why not challenge your child with 10-minute downtime activities throughout the day, with the emphasis on ‘active’? Try these:

One-10, again and again!

Stick numbers from one to 10 on the floor, before posing quick-fire rounds of maths challenges and telling them to jump on the answer to the question as quickly as they can. Keep a track of the speed of their responses and challenge them to beat their own records.

No more ‘bored’ games

Challenge children to create their own people-sized board game or, for children more prone to picking up the games console controller, let them loose on free game-building websites, like Scratch. Check in with them regularly to keep their enthusiasm going, and award them for any ways they’ve incorporated their standard schooling into the game. Have fun playing the game as a family.

  • Build your own learning community

Schedule weekly learning sessions with school friends – where would the world have been in 2020 before Zoom, Skype and FaceTime? Make the most of the resource by planning online sessions with friends and family. Schedule these sessions to include some downtime too, before lunchbreak or the end of the day, so learning time can spill into a fun, interactive session or dinnertime when school is over.


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