How I’ve Been Keeping My 11-Year-Old Busy During These ‘Forced Holidays’

April entered our lives quietly. There was no excitement over a new session at school. No new bags or new books. No anticipation of new friends, no new teachers’ names to remember.

School going kids all over the world are at home. Some senior students have online classes in various subjects, but the school atmosphere is amiss.

In this scenario, how do you keep pre-teens busy and occupied? There are two ways to go about it. One is to wait it out and wait for school to start. The second option is to plan the day with activities that encourage your child to explore new horizons on his own.

I chose the second option. I have a boisterous pre-teen who was visibly devastated when school closed down mid-March. He was upset when he was promoted without the school conducting exams in three subjects. I had to come up with a plan to keep him happy and entertained without overburdening him with ‘work’ and ‘studies’ – or just allowing him to watch TV the whole day.

Thankfully, my son is a person who listens to reason. He also loves to win awards and medals.

I got the idea from the art classes he attends once a week. The teachers started sending daily drawings which were to be completed and sent back the same day. Each submission earned credit points – appreciation stars.

I decided to go with small tasks to encourage my son to expand his knowledge and skills without giving it the treacherous name of ‘studying’.

Also read: Quarantined: Five Ways Parents Can Motivate Children at Home

So we, mother and son, sat down together and planned and wrote down details of activities to be done daily. It included activities that he liked and wanted to improve on – like quilling and art homework. We zeroed in on one Sudoku (for kids) a day, to improve the chances of winning the Sudoku competition in school, as and when one is held.

We finalised on one write up – essay or poetry –  a day; a way to release the inner thoughts and hidden apprehensions or comedies.

And on a serious note, a few math sums – so that the numbers don’t break into a dance once school reopens and teachers start lessons at the speed of a bullet train.

The list was ready and it was accepted that once all the work in the list was done, he was free to watch any movie or play games for the rest of the day.

The plan works like magic. Every day, I see the beauty that comes out in the form of a quilling flower. The frustrated thoughts that pour out as a poem. The tenacity to stay sharp in the way the sums are done and dusted.

As the lockdown days extended, it became evident that school was not reopening any time soon. My son, on his own accord, requested for the next grade NCERT books to read through.

After all this, my son still manages to squeeze out time to watch one movie a day and play badminton with his father in the evening in the front yard.

As each day passes in an organised yet uncertain manner, I ask this question, how would other parents and guardians are succeeding in bringing some order to this chaotic situation? What of parents who are essential workers, what of doctors, helpers, healthcare nurses, what of sanitation workers – who takes care of their child’s mental development during such days of uncertainty?

My mind wanders over to differently abled children. How are such children coping with the house arrest? How are their caregivers coping in such difficult times?

There’s a lesson to be learnt here – it’s better for everyone if one can acknowledge and understand their privilege.

Featured image credit: Caleb Woods/Unsplash