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7 Safe Social Distancing Activities That Will Keep Your Child Occupied

With schools closing in response to the coronavirus pandemic, parents across the United States are now looking after their kids all day, every day. And although 57% of organizations normally see employee retention as a problem, many parents in the U.S. are either laid off or working remotely from home. The one bright spot in these developments is that families will now have the chance to enjoy each other's company uninterrupted. Still, you'll need to promote safe practices that protect both you and your child while staying home. Here are seven safe social distancing activities that will keep your child entertained and engaged.

1. Get Outside for Exercise

While you'll need to steer clear of potentially crowded spots like playgrounds, going outside is essential to your family's physical and psychological well-being. You and your child can hike, bike, and take nature walks -- as long as you remain six feet away from others you may encounter on your outdoor adventure. You'll both get some much-needed fresh air and cut down on cabin fever.

2. Video Chat with Family and Friends

You and your child can stay connected with those you can't visit right now. Approximately 20% of the United States population will be over age 65 by 2030. Experts recommend that children not visit their elderly relatives. Even if you or your child aren't experiencing symptoms, you might pass on the virus to seniors who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. But that doesn't mean your child can't communicate with their grandparents. You can schedule a video chat with Grandma and Grandpa. You can also suggest that your child text or chat with their classmates to keep a connection.

3. Take a Virtual Tour of a Museum

Museums all over the world are closed, but many are providing virtual tours so that you can view their collections from your own home. In 2011, a study conducted by the University of London reported that blood flow to the "joy response" area of the brain rose by 10% when subjects looked at a beautiful painting, just as it does when you see someone you love. Taking into account the psychological benefits of appreciating art, it's a good idea to take a virtual museum tour. Roughly 2,500 famous museums and galleries are providing online collections and tours through the Arts and Culture pages on Google. London's Tate Modern Museum, Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum, and New York City's Museum of Modern Art are just a few of the places you can visit via computer.

4. Play in the Backyard

It's easy to maintain social distancing in your own backyard. Create a camping adventure as a staycation, complete with storytelling, roasting marshmallows, and looking up at the constellations. As the weather gets warmer, you could also get the family involved in gardening and even work in a botany lesson or two while your child helps to sprinkle seeds or plant flowers. Give your child a say in which vegetables or flowers your family will grow so they'll be more engaged in the activity. If you're feeling ambitious, go online and learn how to make compost or grow microgreens. You could also set up a fun obstacle course or create a scavenger hunt behind the house for a fun afternoon.

5. Have a Family Game Night

Do you have favorite board games from your own childhood? Now is a good time to take them out of storage and teach your child how to play. Old favorites like Life, Candy Land, Sorry, and Connect Four are easy for younger kids to master, while older kids will get more of a challenge from Trivial Pursuit, Clue, and chess. Board games are a nice break from the over-stimulation of video games and they allow the whole family to play together. Make some popcorn, gather everyone around the dining room table, and enjoy some friendly competition.

6. Make Easy Crafts Together

You don't need to be an expert crafter to have fun making things out of everyday objects. Have your child collect markers, crayons, ribbons, string, and loose buttons from around the house. Add some squares cut from worn-out pieces of clothing, a bottle of ordinary glue, some blank paper, and a needle and thread. Make puppets by gluing button eyes and ribbon mouths on two pieces of cloth sewn together around the edges. Have your child draw on blank paper to make gift wrap for their grandparents' care packages, which can be tied with string, or make signs for their rooms with their names in funky lettering.

7. Cook a Meal Together

Due to dwindling supplies at grocery stores, you'll need to get creative about making meals anyway. Why not let your child get involved? Take a tour of the cupboards and refrigerator together; instead of focusing on what isn't there, ask your child which of the foods on hand they'd like to eat. If your child has a say in meal planning, they'll be more willing to try dishes with unfamiliar ingredients. And if you let them help with meal preparation, they'll especially want to try the dishes they've helped you make. Stay positive and make it seem like a shared culinary adventure. Younger kids can help with measuring and stirring as long as they're supervised, while older kids can chop vegetables, open cans, and help keep an eye on the pots on the stove. When your family sits down to eat a meal you've cooked together, everyone can feel good about contributing to the effort. Your child might even discover some new favorites along the way.

It's a very tough time for our country and a truly challenging time for families. Social distancing is hard on everyone, but you can make it a little easier for your family if you introduce some fun and safe activities. Your child may be feeling unmoored while they're out of school, but structure and stimulation provided by enjoyable family activities can help them cope with the unprecedented disruption in their life. Show them that being home can be an opportunity for your family to grow closer.


  1. These are all great ideas! I know I would enjoy a Virtual Tour of a Museum and also making some crafts would be fun too.


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