Children's Hospital Colorado

Age-Specific Schedules and Activities for Kids During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everything from our daily schedules to where we can go and what we can do. These changes can be challenging for everyone, and this is especially true for kids who thrive on routines and predictability.

With the expanded availability of several safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S., many pandemic restrictions are loosening. But for families with kids under the age of 12 who aren't yet eligible for a vaccine, life is not yet "back to normal." COVID-19 precautions like mask wearing remain critical.

To help support families during these unpredictable times, our child life specialists have compiled their best tips for how to create a schedule and plan activities for children of any age. These tips apply any time of the year, whether your kids are enjoying a break, learning virtually or heading back to in-person activities like sports or school.

If you're wondering what to do when you're vaccinated but your children are not, we have advice for that, too.

Creating a schedule for your family during the pandemic

Creating a routine is a great way to help reduce stress for your entire family. Here are some general tips for creating a schedule for family members of all ages:

  • Personalize your plan. There is no perfect schedule for every family. We recommend using meals and bedtime as a starting point and building your family’s schedule around those important parts.
  • Plan age-appropriate activities. To help guide you, we’ve compiled a list of ideas for activities, coping strategies and expression tools for you to incorporate into your schedule based on the age of your children.
  • Give yourself grace. You and your kids are navigating a new normal during these times. A general rhythm can be helpful but remember that your schedule will not be perfect, and that’s okay. It’s simply there to help you.

Schedule tips and activity ideas for kids ages 3 to 6 years old

Transitions are integral when managing activities for children who are 3 to 7 years old. You can help manage stress by giving toddlers and young kids time to transition from one activity to the next. For example, prior to a transition say, “We are going to be putting these toys away soon so we can do something else.” This helps your child mentally prepare to change activities.

We recommend including a variety of different categories of activities in your day. Below are a few different categories that you can include in your schedule with activity ideas that align to each category.

Schedule tips and activities for kids ages 7 to 11 years old

Children in this age group may want to review their schedule each day and choose their own activities. It will take some creative parenting ideas to keep your kids active and engaged over the summer.

For 7- to 11-year-olds, giving choices and control helps promote coping and satisfaction in their lives. This is especially true when many things feel out of control. It’s still helpful to stick to schedules and allow choice.

This age group is also more attracted to technology. Though it’s a strong distraction, do your best to provide enough time for social and interactive options, too. Children in this age group may struggle to express their emotions. That’s why we’ve focused some of our recommended activities on developing strong coping skills during difficult times.

Schedule tips and activities for tweens and teens

While socially distancing, tweens and teens are searching for normalcy. Kids in this age group may feel isolated, miss their friends and struggle to find a way to make things better.

To help support your tween or teen, create a schedule with options so they can gain back some of the control that they’ve lost due to current circumstances. We recommend creating a general structure and letting them fill in the details. Start with chores as the foundation, and then add friends, virtual social activities, and screen-free family time.

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