Resources for Parents

Looking after your Heart, Body and Mind during the Covid-19 Restrictions

Barnardos has quickly adapted to the current Covid-19 pandemic to continue to support children and their families, and we want to provide you and your children with the opportunity to check in with your Heart, Body and Mind regularly throughout this situation.  

There are lots of fun activities listed below to keep your children engaged, and activities that the family can do together.  It is important to remain positive and engage with our children every day in a positive way.  

It is also important that parents take care of themselves during this time. You will also see our Wellbeing for Parents section below, providing parents with tips on how to check in and be kind to themselves.  

Listen to Jenny explain this new holistic Heart, Body, Mind approach to our work in the video below.

We have also created a very useful PDF with guidance for parents on supporting their children’s return to early learning and care that you can download a full version here: Download PDF

Back To School Tip Sheets

As schools set to reopen in the coming weeks Barnardos has collated a  collection of Tips for children, young people, and parents on how best to prepare for this transition.

TipSheets

Heart Activities

The heart activities focus on understanding and managing feelings. These activities will support your children to foster feelings of kindness for themselves and others. Together you can help your child to learn more words to describe their feelings and support the daily practice of recognising how things make us feel.

  • New! - Talking about Worries

    This is likely to be an anxious and worrying time for lots of children returning to pre-school and school.

    Talking to your children about their worries can be a really insightful and freeing experience for both the child and parent.

    For younger children sometimes looking for clues in their play can be useful as we know children express themselves through play.

    Here are some books about worries which you could read with your child, which should be available in your local library:

    1. "The Huge Bag of Worries" by Virginia Ironside
    2. "Bad Day" by Ruby Roth
    3. "Ruby’s worry" by Tom Percival

    Some questions to ask your child whilst reading together;
    • What are some of the things that can worry you?
    • What does worry feel like in your body?
    • What can I do to help you when you are feeling worried?


    Remember your response to your own worries, stress, and frustrations can go a long way toward teaching your children how to deal with everyday challenges

  • New! - Draw your own feelings cards

    Feelings can be hard to talk about sometimes. Making talking about feelings a part of the family’s daily routine can be really helpful.

    Younger children will need the support of their parent to use this language every day, naming good feelings and more difficult feelings.

    As we look to returning to preschool and school, why not support your child to complete the Draw Your Own Feelings cards? This way, their feelings can be visually represented for them and you. This will spark a conversation about what they are feeling that day and why.

    Instructions:

    1. Print and cut out the blank faces and the feeling words
    2. In the blank faces, get your child to draw the expression/face of the feeling word.
    3. Help them to match the feeling face to the feeling word
  • Teddy Bears Picnic

    We know school is coming to an end very soon. Why not have your very own teddy bears picnic either together with your children’s friends and their parents in your local park or virtually in your own gardens?

    Download our instructions on how to set up a Teddy Bears Picnic and a certificate for excellence in Teddy Care for your children.

    Recommended for ages 0-7

  • Kind Wishes Meditation

    Here is a short guided meditation from Louise Shanagher.

    This is a nice time to reflect on the past few weeks with your children. It's good to make some time to think about themselves, their families and their school friends, whom they may not have had a chance to say a proper goodbye to this year.

    This guided meditation helps us make kind wishes for people in our lives.

    Recommended for ages 6+

    Listen

  • Feelings Sing Along - Hokey Pokey

    Fun for all the family! Sing along to this song with a twist! Using the different feelings, act out these feelings on your faces whilst you’re singing along.

    Recommended for all ages, for younger children, use this time as an opportunity to sing to the music which babies and toddlers will enjoy!

  • Feelings Book

    Help your child to create a feelings book. Support them to cut out pictures of different faces displaying different emotions and help them create a story based on the faces they choose.

    Remember to get your child to show what each feeling looks like on theirs and your face as you create your book together.

    Recommended for ages 6+

    Feelings Book

    Create a “feelings book”, cut out pictures from old newspapers and magazines of lots of people’s faces with different expressions and feelings on them. Practice the feelings faces/expressions as you find them.

    It is important that we can name our feelings and recognise these feelings on people’s faces.

    Remember ALL feelings are ok!

    Materials needed:

    • Paper
    • Old News Papers and/or magazines
    • Glue
    • Scissors
    • Markers
    • Stapler

     

    Instructions:

    1. Gather together some old newspapers or magazines that might be around your house.
    2. Have a look through them and pick out people’s faces, choosing a mixture of different expressions and feelings
    3. Cut out the faces and group them into feelings categories e.g. Happy/smiling/laughing or Sad/crying/frowning
    4. Take your paper and staple some pages together or punch a hole in the middle and use some string to hold them together
    5. Start to create your feelings story, make up a story based on the feelings faces you have cut out.
    6. Call or FaceTime some of your family and read them the story you have created.
  • Simon Says Feelings Game

    We all know how to play Simon Says! Why not try this new version, where we have to act out a feeling. The whole idea is that we take turns in listening to one another and it gets us thinking about feelings. Recommended age 5+ years

    Play a game of Simon Says, with a FEELINGS twist!

    This is to help us practice naming different feelings and what we look like when we feel that way.

    Instructions:

    Play the game with your family who live in your house OR you can play this game on FaceTime/Zoom/etc to other members of your family or friends

    Choose who will go first calling out the directions. They must replace the usual Simon says directions with feelings phrases. For example, say: “Simon says, look happy” or “Simon says, look angry”

    After they have shown you what that feeling looks like on their face, ask them what makes them feel that way? For example, “What makes you feel excited?”

    Here are some feelings examples;

    • Happy
    • Sad
    • Loved
    • Upset
    • Angry
    • Frustrated
    • Excited
    • Proud

Body Activities

The Body activities are divided into breathing activities - activities to provide children with an opportunity to focus on the body and connect with the present,  and muscle relaxations - activities to help children release tension from their bodies to increase their sense of calmness. (TIP: The best time to teach a breathing technique is when the child is calm.)

  • New! - Sensory bag/kit

    When we engage our senses in a unique way we can tap into a part of our brain and bodies that makes us feel calmer.

    Why not create your very own Sensory Bag/Kit with your child and include different items that they enjoy which you know will make them feel calm and relaxed in moments when they might need it.

  • New! - Breathing Cards

    We have practiced lots of breathing techniques here on the body section. We understand the importance of children taking time to slow their breathing and connect with the present.

    By now your child might have tried different types of breathing activities and might have found one or two that work for them. Continued encouragement from you will support their mastery of breathing calmly which has a huge benefit on their Heart, Body and Mind.

    Here are some Breathing Cards, from childhood101.com, with different breathing activities and instructions. These can be printed and cut out for use every day with your child.

  • DIY Fairy Garden

    This summer why not build your very own Fairy Garden with your child. Getting out into the garden will give us that Vitamin D we need.

    Creating a fairy garden will support your child’s self-esteem, make them feel calm feeling the dirt in their fingers, and it's fun!

    Recommended ages 3+

    How to make your Fairy Garden:

    1. Use a plant pot, old glass jar/bowl, an old tea cup or pick a space in a garden for your creation.
    2. If you are using a plant pot, old glass jar/bowl or an old tea cup; fill it up with some soil from the garden.
    3. Have lollipop sticks/twigs, shells, pebbles, coloured leaves, twine, paper and flowers all ready for you magical creation.

    Creation Ideas:

    • You could use twigs, twine and paper to make bunting for your fairy garden.
    • Create a fun name for your Fairy Garden and use Lollipop sticks to make a sign.
    • With the help of an adult, plant flowers seeds and watch them grow over the summer.
    • Make some stepping stones/a walking path for the Fairies by placing pebbles or shells in the garden.
    • Make a seated bench for the fairies out of twigs or lollipop sticks.
    • Create your own little animals for the garden by painting their colours on rocks or shells.
    • Sprinkle some glitter in the fairy garden for some extra Magic!
  • Virtual Sports Day

    School is coming to an end for this year - why not encourage your children to join in the Barnardos Virtual Sports day with some friends to mark the end of the school year!

    Moving our bodies is a really good way to help us feel happy and calm. Get started by downloading our virtual sports day instructions and our participation certificate.

    Recommended for ages 6+

  • The Big Toddle at Home

    If you haven’t already heard Barnardos had to change how we did our Big Toddle this year. Lots of families have signed up on Facebook for their sponsored walk and there is still time to do this.

    We have seen lots of children walking, dressing up and doing arts and crafts. Why not try it out with your children and get them up, active and engaged in something really positive. 

    Find out more information and how to sign up here, including some Heart, Body, Mind activities you can do while Toddling!

    Recommended for ages 0-7.

  • Rainbow Rice

    Follow these simple instructions and get the Rainbow Rice Effect! This activity uses our sense of touch. Playing with different textures can help us feel calm.

    Recommended for age 3+ (Supervision required for younger children)

    Rainbow Rice


    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup of uncooked Rice (Per colour)
    • ½ teaspoon of water (Per colour)
    • 15-20 drops of Food Colouring of choice (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple)
    • Sandwich bags (Resealable bags)

     

    Instructions:

    1. Place 1 cup of rice into each bag
    2. Mix ½ tsp of water + 15-20 drops of food colouring per colour.
    3. Zip up the bag and shake shake shake until the colour has spread evenly (If you need to add more colouring and water do that now)
    4. Place the rice out onto a piece of parchment paper or tin foil and allow to dry
    5. Repeat with your other colours
    6. Once completely dry you can mix all the colours together in a storage container or lunch box
    7. Now enjoy the rainbow rice effect!! Rub your hands in between the rice, cup the rice and move your hands in and out.

     

    Benefits:

    • Improves fine motor skills
    • Get used to different textures
    • Explore different colours
  • Deep Breathe Like a Blowfish!

    Follow along to this short video and practice how to deep breathe like a blowfish. Taking a big deep breathe in and filling up your lungs, then breathing out slowly.

    We can become masters of deep breathing if we practice every day and this can help us relax and feel calm.

    Recommended for ages 5+

  • Belly Breathing

    Try this guided meditation by GoZen with your child to help them practice more belly breathing.

    Breathing deeply helps us feel calm and relaxed.

    Ask your child what parts of their body move? Ask them how they feel after?

    Recommended 6+ years

  • Tissue Dance

    Dance like nobody is watching! Here’s an activity that’s sure to get our bodies moving, all you and your child need is a tissue and some music. Give it a try!

    Recommended for all ages (See adaptations below for younger children).

    This activity can be done on your own or as a game with other family members

    Materials needed:
    • A tissue
    • Music

     

    Instructions:
    1. Have everyone put a tissue on their head before you play any music.
    2. Then start the music and begin dancing, but don’t let the tissue hit the ground.
    3. If you are trying this activity on your own, see if you can dance to a whole song before the tissue falls.
    4. If you are playing as a family and the tissue starts to fall, you can put it back on your head. However, if you miss and the tissue lands on the floor, you are out!
    5. Last one with a tissue on their head wins!

     

    Adaptations for babies and toddlers

    The movement element of this activity is the most important part. Having music playing, dancing and encouraging children to move is the key. For young children, clapping hands to the beat or making different musical sounds is a sure way to get them moving.

    Remember, dance like nobody is watching!


Mind Activities

The Mind activities will support children to have an awareness of their own thoughts and learn how to increase positive thoughts. They will help the whole family be more present with eachother.

  • New! - Draw your first day back to school

    Returning to school for some children might be a very exciting thought, seeing friends again, meeting their new teacher. For some children going back to school in August might make them feel worried as they are unsure what it will be like or look like.

    Ask your child to draw their first day back to school:
    • What might this look like?
    • Who is there?
    • What is your child doing? Feeling?


    Download and print this template, or recreate it on your own paper.

    Allowing your child the space to draw this will give you the opportunity to see what’s happening in your child’s mind.

    What might they be worried about or excited about? This knowledge will support you to have an open conversation and reassure them that you will be there to support them.

  • New! - Affirmation Cards

    Starting this school year on the right foot might feel quite daunting. Positive self-talk can support your child to have a better attitude to their day.

    Here are some examples of affirmation cards your child could use and some blank ones for them to design their own affirmation cards

    Encourage your child to say these out loud to themselves every morning and bring one in their pocket or bag, then they can be reminded of their affirmations when they need them the most.

  • How to Draw Animals for Kids

    There are so many benefits for children when they draw. Drawing helps with hand-eye coordination, develops fine motor skills, improves concentration, supports problem solving and builds confidence.

    Support your child to draw their favourite animals and share their masterpieces with family and friends!

    Recommended Age 5+

    How to Draw Animals for Kids

    Encourage creativity, concentration and confidence using the ‘How to Draw Animals for Kids’ Guide by easypeasyandfun.com.

    Creation Ideas;

    • Draw your own Zoo with all the animals in the guide.
    • Choose your favourite animal, paint it and hang it in your bedroom.
    • Draw or paint your friend's, parent's or grandparent's favourite animal and gift them with it as a surprise.
    • Show your friends the guide and draw together – helping each other and having fun.
  • My Summer Goals

    School is soon going to be closed and your children will be on their Summer Holidays! (No more home schooling!)

    Making goals is really important, it requires us to think about what is important to us, what we are good at and what we would like to be better at. It is a really great feeling when we achieve our goals.

    Ask your child to think about what they would like to achieve this summer. Download our My Summer Goals worksheet, where they can write down their goals.

    Recommended for ages 5+

    Some goal ideas:

    • Go to a new playground
    • Make a bird feeder
    • Visit a library
    • Collect sea shells
    • Paint a picture
    • Feed the ducks
    • Plant a vegetable in your garden
    • Play with a new friend
    • Make a smoothie
    • Go on a scavenger hunt


    Display the My Summer Goals worksheet in your home and get your child to tick off each one once they have achieved a goal.

  • A (paper) chain of Calm

    We all need some help sometimes to calm our minds. When we are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed and have not learned ways to make ourselves feel calm we can get even more upset.

    Support your children to find their calm by creating a toolbox of ideas they can use when they start to feel those feelings of frustration or worry.

    Here is one tool to make with your child. This can be a reminder for them of all the tools they have to help them.

    Recommended for ages 6+

    Materials needed;

    • Coloured paper
    • Scissors
    • Sellotape or glue
    • A Marker/Pen/Pencil

    Instructions;

    • Cut your paper into strips
    • Write down on each strip ways that you have learned to feel calm
    • Fold one side of the strip to meet the other side, making a link
    • Link all your strip together to make a paperchain
    • Display your paperchain where you will see it often-reminding you of all the tools you have to find your calm.

    Some ideas of ways to feel calm;

    • Belly breathing
    • Bubble breathing
    • Taking three big deep breaths- slowly
    • Listening to music
    • Dancing to my favourite song
    • Walking around the garden
    • Naming 3 things you can see, hear, smell
    • Name how I am feeling
  • Inspiration Stones

    Positive Self Talk is really important to practice. This Inspiration Stones activity helps us to remember what makes us happy, what we are grateful for and reminds us to think and say positive things about ourselves each day.

    Follow our instructions below or download them and see how to decorate your own inspiration stones. Recommended for ages 3+

    Instructions:
    1. Collect stones of different shapes and sizes. It can be helpful to find stones with at least one smooth surface.
    2. If the stones are dirty, rinse them off under running water and let dry.
    3. You can decorate directly on the stone, or you can paint a base layer of white or other light coloured paint. Allow the base coat to dry.
    4. Decorate your stones with words or sayings to remind you of things that bring you happiness and gratitude, or that might remind you to relax, or even positive affirmations about yourself. You can use pens, markers, glitter or paint to decorate your stones. Acrylic paint works great but poster paint works well too.
    5. Let your stones dry.
    6. If you wish, you can protect your stones and make them last longer by putting a final clear coat on – you can do this using clear nail varnish or even by brushing your finished stones with PVA glue. This is really important to do if you are going to place your stones outside.
    7. Place your stones in places around your home or garden where you will see them and feel happy, grateful, calm or good about yourself!

    Photo: Stones painted by 3 year old, 8 year old and their Mum.

  • Story Time - A Very Hungry Caterpillar

    Listen to Barnardos Project Worker Aoife reading a very hungry caterpillar and follow along to the story.

    Watch what happens to the Caterpillar at the end of the story. Can your children guess what happens to him?

    Recommended for all ages.

  • Story Time - Cuddle

    Story time for the whole family! At a time when we can’t cuddle everyone we want to, listen here to one of our Project Workers Katherine reading us the Cuddle story and think about who you could cuddle in your imagination!

    Recommended for all ages.


Wellbeing for Parents

This section is for parents to focus on themselves. We know parents lead very busy lives and in particular during this current Covid-19 pandemic, parents might be very focused on the wellbeing of their children. This is a gentle reminder that it’s ok to mind yourself too, in fact, it’s important that you look after yourself so you can be completely present for your children.

  • New! - Reflect and Prepare

    Reflecting on the past few months with your child is an important step in preparing them for the school year ahead.

    It’s ok if you do not have all the answers yet, starting the conversation will allow your child to feel supported and safe.

    Here is some conversation starters to Reflect and Prepare with your child.

  • New! - My own wellbeing plan for the day

    When school returns there might be some added pressures that were not there before. It’s important to take moments throughout your day to mind yourself.

    If you are a stay at home mum/dad, working from home or back in the office, create your own wellbeing plan for your day.

  • Summer Family Rituals

    Rituals allow families to slow down and connect. We have all had time to slow down over the past few months. Let’s not forget the good feelings this brought.

    Despite life getting a little busier now, remember to make time to incorporate special moments into your family life.

    Try out some of these Summer Family Rituals

    Read the list together as a family and tick off the ones you would like to try!

    • Have each family member share one kind thing that they did that day
    • Create your own family handshake
    • Choose a moment in the day where everyone sits, plays and laughs together
    • Go on a weekly nature walk
    • Create a rotating chore chart which changes ever Friday
    • Make storytime a feature of every evening, taking turns to read or tell a story
  • COVID Pyramid Poster

    Stay Well, Care and Share, Plan and Prepare - poster by Barnardos Project Worker Tara Smith.

    During these difficult times it is important to remember we are all experiencing similarities and differences in our situations. Whatever stage you are at that is OK! We are all in this together!

  • The Scared Gang Have to Stay at Home

    It might be getting harder for some parents to explain to their children why they have to stay at home.

    This book by Éadaoin Bhreathnach may be helpful for your children to understand everything a little better.

    Recommended for ages 5+

    Download the book

  • Baby Bonding

    Watch this short video of one of our Project Workers Ruth explaining Baby Bonding. You can practice it with your infant/toddler or child today.

    Follow allow with Ruth by downloading this Head, Heart and Hands Baby Bonding tip sheet.

  • Sesame Street

    You’re doing a great job! Listen to Elmo’s dad telling all parents how well they are doing and reminding them to take a moment for themselves to breathe.

  • I Can/Cannot Control

    There are some things we CAN control and there are some things we CANNOT.

    This image from The Counseling Teacher helps us to remember the things that are in our control and the things that are not, especially during this stressful time.

  • Growth Mindset

    Read through the 25 affirmations below from Big Life Journal.

    Read one to yourself every day or print it out and hang it on your fridge so every time you open the fridge you take a positive message too.

  • Just One Breath

    Give yourself a moment to focus on your breathing, helping you feel calmer and relaxed and more present in your body.

    Use the instructions and on the image below from Big Life Journal to help you.

    Instructions:

    1. When you wake up
    2. Take a moment
    3. Notice how your body feels: Are you tired/achy/refreshed
    4. Allow yourself to take a few deep breaths

Parent Supportline

Barnardos has launched a national telephone support service for parents in response to the challenges they are facing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This service will be staffed by Barnardos project workers who are trained professionals.

Barnardos Parent Supportline

Online safety

We normally deliver workshops about online safety in schools for children, teachers and parents and this is supported by Google.org. Due to the Coronavirus, we can’t have our face-to-face workshops in schools at present and instead we have a number of short videos about online safety for parents that we hope will help their children stay safe and happy online. You can watch these videos on their own, or you can watch them as a mini-presentation

Virtual Workshops