Guest Blog by –  Clinical Psychologist, Dr Shona Goodall

We can all agree that parents and carers have had a challenging couple of months as the COVID-19 pandemic has moved the classroom, and the office, into our homes. Whilst schools have reopened to some primary and secondary school children this week, millions of pupils will still have up to seven weeks of lockdown learning left, before the school year ends.

If you’re a parent worried about the impact home schooling will have on your child’s development, try not to stress. By following my simple tips, you can harness your child’s imagination using something as simple as sustainable packaging to boost their social and emotional growth. These improvements are the foundations to a better academic performance, even when the pandemic is over. You may just need to think ‘inside’ the box for once!

1) Take the pressure off

Many adults fear that they are not offering enough educational activities or stimulation during lockdown.

When lesson planning, it is important to keep tasks simple, allowing time and space for your child to do things at their own pace. By staying calm and taking a more relaxed approach, it is likely that you and your child will have more fun, and ultimately, laugh. This will increase oxytocin levels in the body which can not only boost our immune systems but also ensure your child stays stress free. The end result? A child who is more easily engaged and able to pay attention when studying.

2) Encourage imagination and creativity

When you’re busy with work, it may be tempting to use an iPad or smartphone to fill chunks of time. However, by preparing in advance by introducing creativity zones for children and providing basic items for the creation of ‘toys’ using empty cardboard packaging, this will develop their cognitive, emotional and social abilities which underpin independence.

Recyclable packaging provides a great blank canvas for creativity and cardboard is particularly good as it’s lightweight yet strong. You could provide some simple pictures for inspiration. Helping children to see one object (such as cardboard) as having several purposes or functions, helps children use their imagination and develops flexibility in their thinking.

Leftover cardboard can be used to make dens and forts for a younger child or even fun design projects for older ones.

3) Boost new behaviours

When the arts and crafts box is exhausted and so are you, it’s the perfect opportunity to discuss the materials that your child has been getting creative with throughout the day.

By asking open-ended questions or experimenting with different materials, such as cardboard by simply folding it several times and discussing its strength, parents can demonstrate to children simple science as several layers thick card is harder to rip and can support the weight of heavier items

Playing with materials such as cardboard, provides a great opportunity to praise children and encourages ideas by sparking their curiosity. This not only promotes sustainability but also inspires your family to grow into the next generation of recyclers.