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Keep calm and play: how we can help our little ones in unsettling times

Playing and sharing stories, songs and rhymes is one of the best things we can do for our children at this unsettling time

Audience: Families, 3-5, 0-2
Topics: Bookbug

Last updated: 25 November 2020

Life as we know it is going to change for the next few weeks. Our daily routines won't look quite the same - and our family life might look a bit different too. 

Social media is a hive of activity; articles, videos, and checklists for what we should be doing with our babies and young children at this time. ​Here at Scottish Book Trust we're also working on lots of Bookbug ideas and content we can share with you over the coming weeks. Without the normality of nursery or regular childcare arrangements, so many of us are grasping for ideas to keep little ones entertained and busy at home. While it's important to keep a sense of routine for children, and support their early learning, it's very easy to get caught up in schedules and daily planners. What little ones need more than anything right now is reassurance and security. They may not understand the ins and outs of COVID-19 - and they don’t need to. All they really need to know is that they have a loving family around them at this unsettling time.

As for filling the days, whilst the planners and routines are helpful, it’s important to keep some time aside for unstructured play. As Marguerite Hunter-Blair, CEO of Play Scotland told us, if children can have fun and play here and now, they will be more resilient and able to cope with things better when they’re older. Play is central to a child’s development, and it is often during moments of free play that children feel most relaxed and able to talk to us or express how they’re feeling. Spending time outdoors is also hugely important for a child’s health and early development. Whether it’s playing out in the garden, or walking to a quiet spot close to where you live each day, there are lots of ways to take creative play outside. And of course, spending time sharing stories, songs and rhymes together helps us all feel connected. Those few moments cuddled up on the sofa with your little one’s favourite book can offer so much comfort. If you’re wee ones are missing their grandpas, aunties, cousins or friends, technology is at hand to help you keep in touch. Hearing a song or story from someone your child would normally see in person is a lovely way to help keep these bonds strong.

Like us, our little ones are trying to adjust to their new situation at this challenging time. And however much we try to protect them from it, they will also be tuning in to our anxieties and emotions. By giving your child opportunities to play, have fun, and connect with loved ones, you're already going some way to mitigating any feelings of stress they may be experiencing.