Creativity and play – Coaching children in this trying time of COVID-19

My daily routine before COVID-19 was one packed with Coaching activities for children in early years(at Al-Wafaa orphanage/school) to complete tasks along play, problem-solving etc. The memories of complaints amidst humors in our “creative space” still echo even now.

My children and I were full of optimism few days before government’s directive to close down schools. We were actively creating our toys out of waste in preparation to mark global recycling day event in Ghana. I remember the shouts of a little boy “madam, someone has taken my roofing sheet” I paused for a moment only to realize the roofing sheet he referred to was the cardboard cutout for his toy house project.

As a work from home mum, the first few weeks were difficult moments for my six-year-old and I. She would shout “COVID-19” whenever she heard anything in the news about the virus. Anxiety rose as everyone became anxious about the uncertainty the virus brought. Indeed, it was not easy for my daughter, a sudden change in her daily routine, staying at home, missing all her friends and interactions at school.

Opening up more conversations with her has been very helpful. I still get to coach her in managing her emotions with the uncertainty and how to cope whilst working from home at the same time, her efforts in doing little things for herself (including constant hand washing) and supporting house chores such as sweeping and washing dishes gives me an opportunity to de-stress and cope as well.

On a more serious note, Covid-19 is an eye-opener to the things society has ignored for years, our schools for early learners have been in a haste to complete curricula, tests, and assessments, over-burdening children with worksheets and homework’s to the neglect of play, creativity, life skills, and problem-solving skills.

Our children need to build more resilience and problem-solving skills to appropriately cope with uncertainties than to complete any worksheets or homework’s, now our little ones even need more play and empathy from us and most importantly, every child and adult need to continuously think about safeguarding the earth for the survival of all. Ecological sustainability is a theme we have paid less attention to, in our quest to produce and achieve targets as a society and suddenly, we have all realized we have no alternative earth to relocate to.

Barikisu Sumaila is a
Child coach/educator in early years learning.