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Click HERE to download a PDF of the FREE DIY cards

April 3, 2020


FOR SENDERS PEDIATRICS: As long as many statewide “shelter in place” restrictions remain in effect, it remains more important than ever to figure out how to structure a day that includes working from home and schooling from home. 


Here are some thoughts on how to structure your day during the next month and beyond:


How many times a day do you hear, “Mommy, Daddy – play with me.”

Or, “Color with me”… “Watch me”… “Help me,” “I need you,” “Pick me up!”  With few external distractions and opportunities for parental reprieve, our current conditions - coupled with parents’ own work demands and responsibilities - make these requests feel agitating if not impossible to continually accommodate.

On the surface, these comments appear as they are: simple requests for your company and engagement.  But below the surface, consider if your child is yearning for something deeper.  “Am I a priority in your life right now?” “Do you enjoy being with me?” “Am I as fun to be with as your computer/cell phone?” “I’m not sure what to do now - can you help me figure it out?”  These questions left unanswered can create fear, lack of security, and confusion for young children.  What many of them are really asking is, “AM I STILL SAFE?”

The answer is YES – but clarity from you is necessary to help guide them as they learn to understand the changes they are experiencing. Helping your child understand WHEN he or she can expect your attention creates one element of safety our children now crave. 

These downloadable picture cards depict four different parent/child play scenarios. When presented to children in a daily schedule, these images can help children better understand and anticipate how their day will unfold.

  1. Together Play – A specific time each day when your child has your undivided attention and complete presence.

  2. Side-by-Side Play - Your child’s play and your adult work occur at the same time, each in a defined space, ideally close together.

  3. Free Play – Your child engages in self-directed play, independent play.

  4. Family Play – A special time each day when the entire family is together.


To optimize success, keep in mind the following:

  • Involve your child in conversations about each different type of play. Ask them to recall examples by citing examples of when they previously occurred - yesterday, last week, etc.

  • Each morning create a schedule or template, so your child knows how the day will unfold – use the attached pictures to help reinforce this information.

  • Brainstorm with your child different activities and materials/toys they might want to use during “free play,” to enhance their success. Over time and with practice, it will become an experience they can look forward to, rather than something they fear or resist.

  • In the evenings, recap the different play experiences that took place during the day. Include questions such as: “What did you do during ‘free play’ today?” “What did enjoy the most?” “What are you looking forward to doing tomorrow?”

These conversations are both informative and useful; they help children better navigate their day at home while teaching important skills that will remain with them long after the restrictions have been lifted. No two days may be alike as we push onward in this new normal, but helping meet our children’s needs so they feel safe and know we are there for them must remain unwavering.

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