As a mother of four children aged between nine to twenty-one years, the past few months have been both challenging and revolutionary. With no school and social activities, the earlier days were filled with uncertainty and fear.
With time, I reinvented my parenting skills by adding extra activities that helped all of us cope through the new normal. Before covid, young people from across the globe enjoyed and benefited from social activities like sports, mentorship forums, and so forth.
In the village of Bulowoza in Iganga where I am married, young boys enjoy playing football in nearby fields, it does not matter if the fields are dusty or if they are using makeshift footballs, they are happy.
Girls on the other hand, are often seen going about other things like plaiting each other's hair or helping out with house chores. When I introduced organised youth football tournaments every December, most girls and boys welcomed it with open arms.
The village also came to life as the community residents would join in to cheer the youngsters. In the absence of such activities, it is likely that social vices like drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, crime are on the rise.
Recently it was reported by Kenyan media that data from a government-managed health information system, indicated that more than 3,000 adolescent girls were impregnated during the covid lockdown, in the county of Machakos alone between January and May. In Uganda, the story is no different, with cases of early marriages, defilement being reportedly on the rise in districts like Kasese and Kyegegwa. Sadly, young people being out of school, coupled with lack of parental guidance has left many vulnerable.
Child abuse which would have otherwise, been noticed and reported by some teachers, also continues to thrive in homes, or within neighbourhoods. Within the rural setting, community parenting should be reinforced between the parents, neighbours, and local authorities.
The phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" can be reinforced. However, in this lockdown, parents need a lot of creativity and patience to raise children. In this light, here are a few fun and educational activities that can be adopted within family settings to increase productivity of children during quarantine.
- Assigning house chores: Older children can be assigned house chores.In my home, the boys are responsible for washing the dishes, and preparing breakfast while the girls including myself focus on cleaning the house and cooking meals.
- Dialogue: Children need many opportunities to talk— with each other, with adults, one-on-one, and in groups. Without peer interactions, parents should create conducive environments for children to air their views on the pandemic and other issues that might be affecting them.
- Composition and storytelling: Children can be encouraged to write short stories; fiction or nonfiction, this can improve their writing skills. Parents can also share folk stories about their culture.
- Exercise: Families can try out different activities like walking, racing, jogging, football, yoga, or dancing depending on the space and strength of family members. Whatever the case, exercise is by far one of the best stress relievers for both children and adults is pandemic.
- Individual academic revision: Each child should create their own revision time table because of the different individual needs. Ensure that the time table does not clash with house chores and family activities.
- Digital presentations: If children have access to computers and the internet, they can research different topics both academic and non- academic and create PowerPoint presentations. This builds up to better research, and presentation skills.
- Religious conversations: With most religious gatherings still prohibited, spiritual growth of the children is solely the parent's responsibility. Find a quiet time and day to pray, meditate and discuss spiritual growth.
- Card games: Families can indulge in cards, uno, monopoly, snakes and ladder, chess, or puzzles. Card games are an excellent way to teach patience and good sportsmanship, motor and listening skills, concentration, and academics.
- Talent show: Interests can range from dancing, singing, comedy, poetry, or acting, whatever makes the person happy. Do not worry that one is not good enough, in the process they overcome stage fright and increase confidence.
- Movie night: Inspirational movies, comedies or even documentaries are great sources for learning and bonding. Movie centres and Netflix have an array of family movies. My family and I recently watched, "the miracle in cell number 7" and "A house named wish." Both were entertaining and inspirational. The writer, Mariam Mell'Osiime is a sports activist with a master's in sports management from Real Madrid Graduate School