Boris Johnson has announced plans to close all schools in the UK to halt the spread of coronavirus.
From Friday (20 March) schools will shut until further notice for all pupils, except children of key workers, and the most vulnerable.
For many parents, the idea of keeping their children busy and stimulated for weeks on end without the respite of school is very daunting.
To help you through the coming weeks, here are a few tips and activities to help keep your children happy at home for extended periods of time.
Establish a routine
Children and teenagers thrive on routine. Some children may also experience anxiety about what is happening, and a new routine can help provide them with a sense of normalcy.
Plan a rough daily routine, with times for different activities - school work, exercise, chores, creativity or free play, and time on digital devices.
Make sure they get exercise
Exercise is critical for young people’s physical and mental health. With social distancing measures in place, you might have to get a bit more creative in coming up with ways to keep your kids active.
Opportunities for exercise could include a mini bootcamp in the garden, an obstacle course through the house, physically active video games (like dance, fitness, or boxing), or kid-friendly dance and yoga classes on YouTube. Cosmic Kids Yoga and Just Dance are great resources.
Work on puzzles
Puzzles require brain power and critical thinking to put the pieces together. Buying a large puzzle to put together as a family over the coming weeks could be a good way to bond during this uncertain time.
Children love baking and it's a great indoor activity to do together. There are plenty of easy, child-friendly recipes online.
Social distancing measures reduce your children’s contact with their friends and classmates. Supervised FaceTime, Zoom or Skype play dates are good ways for your child to stay in touch. They can also write letters, or draw cards to then photograph and send digitally to friends and family.
Reading is a great way to keep your child engaged and to stimulate their imagination outside of school. It is also a healthier alternative to tablets and Netflix.
Arts and crafts
Whether it's painting, drawing or colouring, artwork requires focus and concentration. While your child is out of school, art projects will certainly help them stay energized and educated.
Lego, board games and gardening
Encourage your child to play alternative games to those online, or on their tablets.
You could build a fort with every Lego block in the house, choose five board games for a family tournament, or fix a neglected area of the garden.