We have entered an unprecedented era in our recent history spending nearly all of our time at home.

This creates challenges in numerous ways with one of the bigger issues being educating children at home. Parents are scrambling to help their children of every age continue their learning in a distance program. With these challenges, parents may find it difficult to focus on the developmental needs of their younger children.

Esko ECFE Coordinator Shannon Matzdorf has shared the following ideas with parents to remind them that young children not only need academic support, but also support in developing their healthy bodies.

Health experts recommend toddlers receive at least 30 minutes of adult-led physical activity, and at least one hour of unstructured free play activity per day. Preschoolers should get at least 60 minutes of structured adult-led activity, and at least one to several hours of unstructured physical play each day. While we are all cooped up at home, there are still ways to get your children active.

Laundry basket fun

This one is great for younger children. Have your children find some stuffed animals or special toys and put the items in a laundry basket.

Once they have filled the basket, they can push their stuffed friends all through the house. They could even set this one up like a school bus route, stopping and starting to pick up their friends all over the house.

After your children have given a ride to all the stuffed friends, it can be their turn. Have your children sit in the basket while you push them through the house. Add an additional challenge by asking the kids to push you around in the basket. This challenge usually creates a lot of laughter.

With preschoolers, have them put a pile of stuffed animals on the floor on one side of the room. Have them stand with their laundry basket on the other side of the room. Use a timer and have them show you how fast they can run over to the toys, fill up their laundry basket and head back to the starting point. Take turns and have them time you. Parent involvement is definitely key in making this a wonderful bonding activity together!

Wash the windows

Do you happen to have a spray bottle of window cleaner? Let children spray the cleaner onto a window. This will help to build some nice fine motor skills and strengthen their hand grasp.

To build on their large motor skills they could take a cloth or paper towel and help with wiping the windows in a large motion. Have them place both hands on the towel and swish back and forth across the window like windshield wipers on a bus or car. Having them use large motions will help to build on their upper arms and also help with coordination and balance.

Fast/Slow game

You can use any items for the fast/slow game! Give your child instructions to move their body in a specific way (clapping, stomping, alternating hands up and down, for example).

Have your child move in each style, moving in slow movements and then in fast movements. The more unpredictable the speed changes, the more effective the game. Have fun and play along!

Toy pick up

Spread action figures, blocks and small toys out around the room, separating each item leaving floor space between the toys. Place a small basket in a corner of the room.

Have the child lay down on the floor, and roll their way over to each toy. Then have them roll their way to the basket to collect all of the toys.

You could add a challenge by timing them during this process. You could get creative and tell them they have to roll fast so that the “Swamp Monster” doesn’t get them, and then chase them with a pillow to tag them.

Have fun, and remember to join on in!

Check out "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans," Second Edition for more information about the recommended levels of physical activity for children.

You can also learn more about physical activity levels for your child from the Move Your Way Factsheet for Parents.

"Community Education Corner," published weekly in the Pine Journal, features news from Community Education programs in Carlton County.