Great screen-time solutions for your kids during quarantine
If you can't social-distance from your kids without a tablet or computer, here are some sites and videos that are a little better for children's brains.
Thanks to the coronavirus, parents with little ones at home are quickly realizing that there is no “self” in self-isolation, and many are scrambling with how to keep their children occupied and themselves sane.
While some parents seem to be able to magically come up with Martha Stewart-level crafts and Bill Nye-worthy science experiments, what about those of us who unabashedly want or need to lean into screen time?
Everyone has their limits, though. If you absolutely cannot stomach the idea of hitting play on Frozen 2 for the 100th time (after all, we're only a few days into social distancing) here are some more mindful, affordable options.
COSMIC KIDS YOGA
Let Jaime be your kids’ guide through gentle yoga moves with imaginative narratives delivered with her cheery British accent. These YouTube videos are so easy to follow and short enough to hold even the antsiest of preschoolers’ attention that you may even get to pee in self-isolation. Now that’s nama-yay.
The letter of the day is S for “sanity” because that’s exactly what Sesame Street’s Caring for Each Other site gives you. It not only offers resources on how to talk to your kids about COVID-19, it also has videos, educational games, and activity pages that you can print for your children to do after they are finally burnt out on screens.
Bring the classroom into your living room with Scholastic’s stimulating day-by-day projects for kids in preschool all the way up to sixth grade. Offering four daily learning experiences built around a story or a video, you’ll be able to give yourself an A+ in parenting.
Oh, the places we won’t go when we’re sheltering in place, but kids can still go to Seussville with this cyberspace. There’s Cat in the Hat and Horton Hears a Who, there are activities, games, and printables too.
Vooks, an ad-free streaming children’s library, offers a free month trial so your child can watch animated storybooks and you can give your voice and sanity a Chicka Chicka Break Break.
GOOGLE ARTS AND CULTURE
Stimulate your child’s right brain with Google Arts & Culture, where they can tour more than 900 collections from the U.S. to Japan, take a virtual tour of museums around the world, explore Van Gogh’s bedroom, or even zoom in on Frida’s unibrow. Hey, depending on how long we’re self-isolating, that may very well become the look.
Thanks to Geocities, many of us are just barely coding-literate, but we’re raising the next generation to be better than us, right? Children as young as 5 can learn to create interactive stories and games through introductory programming language. MIT, here we come. There's Scratch Jr. for 5- to 7-year-olds, and Scratch for 8- to 16-year-olds.
AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC
Just keep swimming is much easier to do with Aquarium of the Pacific’s free Online Academy classes for kids in preschool all the way up to 12th grade. It doesn’t matter where you live in relation to their Long Beach, Calif. center as they offer interactive live programs with their educators via their YouTube channel. They also have on-demand content, as well as activities sheets and coloring pages. Kids can learn about everything from sharks to SCUBA and even find Nemo in between — hopefully before the sharks do.
Wishing there was an MTV for littles? Look no further than the Queen of Children’s Music herself, Laurie Berkner, and her bottomless YouTube channel with her preschool classics like “We are the Dinosaurs.” With many of her videos touting “50+ minutes” of nonstop music, you can earn yourself a little face-touching time — as a treat.
THE METROPOLITAN OPERA
For the more sophisticated set among us, the Metropolitan Opera is offering nightly opera streams. Let’s just hope “Nessun Dorma” doesn’t give the littles any ideas.
We can only task Alexa with so many questions before even she gives up, so save yourselves now and sign up for this educational streaming service (starting at $2.99 a month) that offers thousands of documentaries on everything from the history of food to the future of our planet with Sigourney Weaver. I mean, if anyone can save us, it’s gotta be Ripley.
Best-selling writer and illustrator Mo Willems (The Pigeon series, Knuffle Bunny books, and more) is the Kennedy Center Education artist-in-residence at home, which means your kids can get an art lesson from a Caldecott winner every weekday and you can get artwork you’re finally able to recognize.