Scottish groups rally to help entertain and educate children

Lockdown is hard on us all – young, old, single, married – because it is a curtailment of the freedom we are so used to.

By Julie Currie
Thursday, 9th April 2020, 12:04 pm
Chief Scout Bear Grylls said: “There’s something for everyone to keep learning and having fun, while warding off cabin fever.”
Chief Scout Bear Grylls said: “There’s something for everyone to keep learning and having fun, while warding off cabin fever.”

But parents, in particular, have a job on their hands, not only dealing with their own fears and anxieties but that of their children too.

And there’s the small matter of how to keep wee ones or teenagers from going stir crazy while waiting for restrictions to be lifted.

Luckily they don’t have to face the challenge alone, thanks to councils, charities, youth organisations and government websites joining forces to lighten the load.

Sign up to our daily The Falkirk Herald Today newsletter

Play is still key...while children cannot play with their friends as normal this Easter, there is plenty of help out there for parents looking to keep them busy.

Most councils now have in place learning plans which allow children to continue with their studies at home.

And when that learning ends, there are plenty of other distractions to keep young minds off the virus.

Children 1st, Scotland’s national children’s charity, for example, has come up with a list of ten ideas to keep children amused.

A spokeswoman said: “With more of us being asked to work from home, or stay at home with children, we asked our family support workers and Parentline team for fun ideas to keep the kids entertained.

Adventures at Home has been created by Girguiding to help engage children and young people who, like many of us, are now staying at home.

“Playing comes naturally to children so often parents will only be needed to get things started or help with new ideas to spark their imaginations.

“Screen time and the internet get a bad press, but having a bit of downtime with a game, video or programme is a pretty normal part of most families’ lives too, especially if we’re stuck indoors for a while.

“Just try to make sure it doesn’t take over from healthier ways to play.”

Children 1st is continuing to provide practical and emotional support to families during the lockdown.

Call the Parentline free on 08000 28 22 23 or visit www.children1st.org.uk for more information.

Play Scotland has also launched its #101waystoplay campaign to make sure children still have fun.

Formed in 1998 to support a child’s right to play, the charity works in communities across the country in partnership with schools, early years settings and public bodies to share best practice.

A spokeswoman said: “We recognise the lives of our families have been turned upside down. The ‘new normal’ is changing by the day and it is very difficult for us all to adapt.

“However, we also know that children need play to survive and thrive. It is through play that children make sense of their world.

“That is why we have created our #101waystoplay campaign – a bundle of boredom-busting fun activities that children and young people can use to encourage imagination, creativity and play time, many of which are suitable for indoors and most of which are low cost or free.”

To find out more, visit www.playscotland.org.

Parent Club Scotland, launched by the Scottish Government last year to support families raising young children, is also an invaluable resource.

As well as advice on talking to your children about the virus and a link to the latest information from NHS Inform, there are helpful tips on learning and working from home.

A spokeswoman said: “It’s hard for families to be stuck at home and it can be difficult to keep everyone happy but there are things you can do to make it easier.

“With a little structure you and your kids can get through this and make the most of this time together.

“You might even have the chance to do things you don’t usually have time for.”

To find out more, visit www.parentclub.scot.

Other invaluable internet sites for parents are www.activityvillage.co.uk and www.netmums.com.

While youth groups, like so many others, are unable to meet just now, they too are offering their own solutions.

Scouts has pulled together The Great Indoors, 100 activities for families, which are fun, free, and designed to keep youngsters entertained and educated.

Facebook Live ‘how to’ sessions will also be hosted by Scout Ambassadors.

Chief Scout Bear Grylls said: “There’s something for everyone to keep learning and having fun, while warding off cabin fever.”

To find out more, visit www.scouts.org.uk/the-great-indoors.

Girlguiding has also launched an online pack, Adventures At Home. For more information visit www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk.

And celebrities are pitching in with the likes of David Walliams and Joe Wicks hosting online shows which often give families a much-needed laugh too.

Getting crafty to show support

With all they’ve had to contend with recently, we thought wee ones would like to know that the Easter Bunny has been tested and given the all clear to hop around their patch this weekend, albeit his usual load may be a wee bit lighter.

Children have been getting crafty to show their support for the NHS, with a colourful multitude of rainbows now being displayed in windows across the country.

In recent days, social media has been flooded with parents asking people to brighten up their children’s daily walk, simply by placing a teddy bear in their window.

Perhaps this weekend, those who are able to should place a wee bunny or hare in their window instead.

While the coronavirus is scary for us all, there’s no reason we can’t help to brighten up a child’s day – especially when they’re doing their best to brighten ours.

Pet charity Blue Cross is also asking children aged seven to 11 to use their drawing skills to enter a special competition.

2020 marks the 80th anniversary of the Blue Cross Medal, which celebrates pets who are changing lives across the UK – with one extra special pet being awarded the winning medal each year.

Blue Cross is asking children to draw their favourite pet on the front of an A4 sized superhero-themed poster, alongside one to two photographs of wording explaining why their pet is such a champion.

Those who don’t own a pet are invited to draw their imaginary ‘super pet’ and explain what their powers would be.

Five winning posters will be showcased at a special exhibition in London called Pet Heroes Through the Ages.

The closing date for entries is 3pm on Friday, May 15.