We’re wearing a lot of hats at home these days, and while the longer we linger indoors the better to flatten the curve, the more our kids are missing out on hands-on learning opportunities and development. We spoke to two entrepreneurs who have dedicated their businesses to enriching the lives our wee-ones, and as a result of the COVID-19 closures, are working from home like the rest of us.

We asked Laura from Clap Studio and Aimee from MakerKids about how to keep our kids engaged during this crisis.

What are the best ways to curb mindless watching instead of actually

Laura @ CLAP– Just do it! Creating actually takes a lot of courage and experimenting, so it can be scary to take the first step, but we all have to start somewhere. Similar to other things, the more we practice, the better we get at it.

Aimee @ MakerKids– At  one of our core values is having a positive relationship with technology and now it is more relevant than ever. These are very challenging times, where parents and caregivers are faced more than ever with controlling screen time. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there and it’s difficult to navigate what is best for your child. While navigating homeschooling can sometimes feel exhausting and frustrating, it’s also a great chance to tailor your child’s education to their own interests, help them discover new passions and learn something new altogether. The idea is to choose available online resources that are educational and fun, so your child stays engaged but takes something away too. Youtube videos of other kids opening presents may not be the best choice of your child’s screen time. Parents need to consider their child’s skills and interests, then spend the time sourcing the right websites and apps for them. Ideally parents need to address three factors when selecting the right resource: educational component, ease of use, engagement (or interactivity), and creativity. There are lots of resources out there both free and paid.

While we can’t visit our favourite art galleries, we can still get inspired at home!

Why is creating so important, especially at a time like this?

Laura @ CLAP– For so many reasons! First of all, art is actually one of the best forms of therapy, no matter the medium. It also helps boost confidence to be able to create something. Secondly, it is so easy to get into a
lazy routine with the current situation but our brains need exercise too! Creating not only improves your mental wellness, it also exercises your brain through creative problem solving.

Aimee @ MakerKids– Creating something of their own will no doubt build kids’ confidence, and when they have confidence, they can do anything. At MakerKids we tell kids “don’t be afraid to fail” – making mistakes along the way builds resilience so it’s OK to make mistakes – that’s where the learning really happens. There is so much time at home right now, it’s amazing to see what kids can do with the right tools in place. Making can involve STEM learning (science, technology, math and engineering) and creativity, so kids who are making using STEM concepts are also educating themselves in these core topics and gaining real life skills for their future. It’s obvious now more than ever, that technology is a critical part of society and a growth industry – this is where the jobs of the future are headed. 

What are some good avenues to explore this type of learning under
these circumstances?

Laura @ CLAP– The great thing about our day and age is that there are so many resources available online now, from DIY videos to recipes. At CLAP, we also offer craft kits (all STEAM projects) that are available for purchase online, all orders within GTA are delivered via contactless
door delivery and we just introduced international shipping! All these craft kits are thoughtfully designed by my team and myself to ensure that everyone is Creating, Learning, and Playing even during this time. The best part, we launch 4 new kits each Wednesday, so it keeps things fresh.

Aimee @ MakerKids– MakerKids’ Virtual programs are the ultimate making tool parents have at home right now. From the comfort of home, kids can learn about Coding, Robotics or Minecraft in a small class environment with other kids from their direct community (i.e. Leaside kids learn with other Leaside kids). They are guided by highly educated, live mentors, who keep kids on point and engaged the entire time, helping them create the projects they want. We offer all kinds of online resources that fit the above criteria for keeping kids engaged, these can be found in our weekly newsletters as well as on our website.  Some of the online resources we recommend include: 

MakerKids Virtual Programs – Coding, Robotics and Minecraft in a safe learning online environment for kids grades 1-8.

edHelper – Free math workbooks, edHelper has learning material for kids in grades K-6. 

Everyday Earth -This interactive video earth science-based curriculum lets kids learn more about the world.  

mPower – An online game from TVO that helps support the mastery of math concepts.

Can you speak to girls in STEM why this is so important for girls

Laura @ CLAP – A lot of the traditional education system only teaches theory, but not application, which becomes a problem when the students enter into the workforce. STEAM (yes Art is important too!) is important because it teaches girls to think critically, logically, and creatively; they learn through hands on activities where they get to experiment and explore. Learning through exploration and experimenting gives the students an opportunity to think for themselves, to learn to problem solve, and to apply their learnings into real life situations.

Aimee @ MakerKids– Research shows that exposing kids to STEM at an early age (around 7 years old), makes them more likely to join a career in that field when they grow up. This is especially important for girls because statistics show girls currently only make up 22% of people in these areas. There is a growing need for females to work in these fields not only because those career fields are themselves growing with large gaps in unfilled roles, but also to bring female perspective to the work being done, influencing organizational outcomes, and the products and services being produced.  Getting girls involved in STEM at a young age boosts self-esteem, breaks down stereotypes and helps with problem-solving. A great way to do this is by signing them up for a free trial of a virtual class at MakerKids – we encourage parents to give their daughters’ a chance!

All photos by Libby Roach.