How coronavirus is inspiring communities – and prompted a virtual playground

If there’s one thing that coronavirus has taught us – aside from the importance of washing our hands properly – it’s that we thrive as part of communities. All over the country, people have joined together to support friends, families and neighbours. This group is one of the best examples by far.

Quite rightly, many of our fears have been focused on our elderly. Who will fetch their groceries? How will they deal with the solitary existence imposed by social distancing?

But there’s another group whose mental health should be a cause for concern. Our children, who’re no longer attending school, have gone from the routine of the classroom and the companionship of their friends to being confined to their homes. Often with parents who’re also trying to work.

As the mother of an eight-year-old who doesn’t have any siblings, I was especially worried about how my son would cope. Until I realised that the technology which was enabling me to continue having meetings with colleagues and clients could also be the answer to keeping our kids in touch with each other.

After a few quick messages to other parents to see whether their kids would be interested in joining a virtual ‘playground’, I set up MoFlo & More Home School Support, a Facebook group aimed at helping our kids to continue to enjoy the communal aspect of their learning.

It’s very early days, but already the signs are promising. My son brightened up immeasurably after taking part in a video chat at lunchtime, and members have been sharing some great ideas for educational activities and exercise, as well as showing what their highly inventive kids have been up to while at home.

It’s the strangest thing. After years of worrying about how much time my son spends on devices I am now encouraging him to clock into the iPad, and stay online.

There’s probably a long way to go before our kids can be together physically and enjoy the rough and tumble that sustains them – and drives their parents mad. But in the meantime, a virtual playground is better than none.

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