Author: VicHealth spoke to Sue Giles AM, Vice President of the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People Last updated: 09 Jun, 2020

Creative activities are a great way to keep kids busy while they’re staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic, but filling every moment with activities is tough

There’s always a lot of pressure on parents at the best of times, but with everyone staying at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, this has definitely increased.

We spoke to Sue Giles AM, the Vice President of the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People, and Artistic Director of Polyglot Theatre, about supporting kids to do creative activities while they’re stuck at home.

Sue has significant experience shaping creative activities that incorporate child’s play. Plus, she’s a mother herself!

While she recognises that fostering creativity in your kids is important, it’s also about balance.

 

Finding balance with the pressures of parenting in the coronavirus context

“I think the biggest stress with parents at the moment is feeling like they are having to be in childcare mode the whole time,” Sue said.

“There are so many online activities and ideas at the moment, and plenty of energy in urging parents to DO.  I don’t think there needs to be a hurry to fill some sort of perceived gap. For so many of us, now is a time where finally, there is time”.

And Sue knows that having ‘time’ will mean different things for different parents.

“We have to acknowledge the variety of circumstances people are facing. Tensions in the home are real and palpable and on the increase because of this situation.”

With these extenuating circumstances in mind, Sue shared some advice for parents wanting to support their kids’ creativity at home.

 

How can working parents support their kids’ creativity during the coronavirus lockdown?

“Positivity. Laughter. Kindness,” said Sue.

First and foremost, Sue emphasised that, “being kind to yourself as a parent and not feeling like you have to fill every moment with activities [is important]."

“And if you are doing something together, giving over to the moment, be really ‘present’ with your kids and not feeling like you’re frustrated or in a rush to finish,” said Sue.

 

What creative activities for kids do you recommend?

“I highly recommend the simple stuff, remembering that children have their own resources of imagination and ingenuity and that boredom is sometimes a wonderful stimulator,” said Sue. 

This could involve items from around the house.

“Using what you have already at home to create and make is great, especially if it’s possible to start someone off on a project and then leave them to it,” said Sue.

Sue recommends dedicating areas of the home to children’s play.

“If it’s possible, starting projects that can be added to without having to always clear things away is great because a child’s play can go on for hours, days and even weeks sometimes,” said Sue, adding that, “this can be a challenge to a tidy person, or if there’s not much space at home”. 

But having a few staple items on hand can help.

“Masking tape and boxes, pencils and paper, sheets and cushions to make that fort – whatever you can find,” Sue said.

Sue’s running theme is to encourage kids to play self-sufficiently, so parents can give themselves a break.

For many parents, this means sourcing something online.

 

What online creative activities for kids do you recommend?

Sue’s team at Polygot Theatre have created some online activities for kids here, and while there are plenty of other reputable online options, Sue points out that your own networks are invaluable.

“Ask other parents you know, who have children the same age as yours, what works. And perhaps they’re doing things with their kids that you can also do,” said Sue.

So staying connected to other parents could help shape your own approach, as always.

Some of these parents will be worried about how their child responds to the coronavirus outbreak.

And while influential children’s personalities like The Wiggles are finding ways to communicate the key health messages to children, supporting kids’ mental wellbeing using creative activities is a different matter.

Sue’s advice? 

“Save something for a rainy day. Not every day has to be an excellent adventure. Children have their own rhythms and they have their own resilience. We can try to rely on this more and follow their inclinations, trust in their own ability to work out what they need,” said Sue.

 

For all coronavirus questions visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) hotline on 1800 020 080.