Keeping Kids Busy During Summer and Quarantine

Hi there, I’m Stephanie Ortega, recently turned Stephanie Johnsen. I have been tutoring and offering academic consulting for about 15 years now. I also have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and my Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis. I did work in the field of ABA for about 5 years, both in consulting as well as in clinical work with children on the Autism Spectrum. However, I now own and run Tutor in Tinseltown, an academic consulting company where I help parents help their children achieve success.

I do this through tutoring, 1:1 consulting for parents, and through my exclusive parenting membership program.

So without further ado, let’s jump into it, shall we?

Is your city still under some form of stay-at-home orders?

Are you worried about having limited access to camps, child care, and activities to keep your children busy during quarantine and summer of 2020?

Today we’re talking about Keeping Kids Busy During Summer and Quarantine. This doesn’t have to be complicated! If you set some goals that you want them to accomplish, it’s easier to think of different activities that will accomplish those goals for them – and for you!

Now, I’m running this training because it was strongly requested, but to be honest with you, it was a bit difficult to create! After all, my audience, you guys, come from very different backgrounds. You have access to very different resources and have children of different ages! You may be committed to giving your children all of your time during this quarantine and summer, or you may be balancing a job and a million other tasks.

I understand this! Not all of my suggestions will apply to everyone. That doesn’t mean this isn’t for you, or that I don’t work with families like yours. Instead, I hope you may be inspired to take take the ideas that don’t work for you and see if there is a way to tweak them so they can fit your family. At the very least, hopefully, you’ll see that you aren’t alone in the summertime struggle!

So as I said earlier, if you set some goals for yourself and your children, thinking of activities becomes a bit easier. To that end, I’ve gone ahead and come up with some goals and activities that might fulfill those goals for you and your children.

Keeping Kids Busy with Physical Activity

Tell me if this sounds like you, ok? Because some recurring issues that nearly all of my clients are struggling with lately is that their children are: having trouble sleeping, lacking in focus, and maybe even a bit hyperactive.

So… does this sound familiar?

I promise you, you are not alone!

More than likely, if they’ve been cooped up at home for ages due to quarantine, your child is probably missing all the activities that used to burn up their excess energy! Things like recess and physical education at school, after-school sporting classes, and even just running around with their friends.

So my suggestions to incorporate more physical activity into their quarantine and summer are to:

  1. make physical activity a competition between all of you! (who can do more pushups, sit ups, jumping jacks, or who can run the longest or fastest)
  2. Build an obstacle course. Now of course this one depends on how much space you have available to you! But feel free to get creative! Your child will appreciate getting to see this “cool” and “fun” side to you, and you’ll get the chance to help them burn off some energy
  3. Trampolines are tons of fun and great exercise, if you have the space and budget of course. And who knows? You may even inspire your kiddo to take an interest in gymnastics!

Quality Time

But maybe your kids aren’t struggling with being over-energized. Maybe instead, you’re struggling as a family with all these weird new roles you’re having to fill. Maybe you used to be the fun parent and now you’re stuck being the “bossy homeschool teacher.” In that case, maybe your child and your family are in need of some solid quality time. In that case, I suggest you:

  1. picnic lunch in the backyard or a nearby park. Getting some sunshine does wonders for your mood and stress levels!
  2. Build a fort to exercise your creativity
  3. Make some s’mores and tell stories. This will help them practice their story telling and you can even make them on your stovetop or in the microwave.
  4. If you watched my Live training from last week on goal setting, you can set aside some time to implement the lesson. And if you haven’t watched it yet – get to it!
  5. Ask them questions! I have a free email challenge where you ask your child guided questions each day to bond and work on your relationship.

If you need time alone

Let’s be real moms and dads, if you’re all working from home, schooling from home, living at home, and your city is under stay-at-home orders (or even if it’s just opening back up) you’re all probably getting a little bit tired of each other! Don’t feel guilty! Humans crave interaction and love – but we also need our own space! Our own bit of privacy. And let’s not forget that cabin fever is absolutely real! This lack of space, lack of social interaction outside of our family unit, and inability to do much in our community can take a toll on anybody.

Take it from me! I’m currently in Jamaica with my new husband and our pets and when the government shut things down and implemented stay-at-home orders and curfews, my first thought was, “well, I’ve already been working from home for months, and since we’re abroad I’ve already had my friend and family interactions mainly shift to the virtual space. How bad could it be?”

Well… bad. I mean, it hasn’t been terrible. My husband is very understanding and supportive when I need space to work on my business (since he was also working from home) and we get along very well. But that doesn’t change the fact that we were stuck at home for months! Even for me, as someone who was “used to it” it took it’s toll!

Some days I felt fine, but some I really felt just bored with life. I felt frustrated and craved talking to someone that wasn’t him! Now, we’re both very good at communicating with each other and we made it through unscathed, perfectly fine, and just as in love as we were before quarantine, but children are missing out on two critical skills needed to make this situation work.

First, they lack the self-awareness to realize that they’re feeling unhappy and why that’s the case. They may be missing their friends, their routine, or their time away from home to be independent! And second, they lack the communication skills to be able to say, “Mom, I don’t hate your food, I just really miss going out to eat.” It’s an oddly specific example right? That’s because it’s exactly how my husband and I felt! We enjoy each other’s cooking, and take out is fine, but the seemingly small experience of getting dressed up to go out to eat was sorely missed.

So to get back on topic: if you, your partner, and your kids are at each other’s throats and you just need some time to be alone, all is not lost just because you can’t send them off to summer camp! Instead, give them activities to do independently. Of course this depends on their age, but you can encourage them to do some:

  1. Independent reading
  2. Crafting
  3. Drawing
  4. Video games

I know! I know! Maybe you’re the kind of parent that hates video games, or screen time in general! I know it’s not necessarily the best use of their time. But if screen time for them means a couple of minutes alone to breathe and decompress for you, I promise you it won’t be the end of the world! Children have a hard time with self-regulation, so they need us at our best to serve as a guide for them.

If you are stressed and feeling anxious, isolated, or depressed due to the current situation, it won’t help them regulate their feeling or behavior either. And besides… there are countless ways to make screen time productive and educational time! Which brings us to the last goal you may have set for your child.


I have an entire module on this for my clients because I am a firm believer that learning should not be limited to happening at school. Through my 15 years tutoring, I have always been able to tell how my students spent their summer when our lessons resume in the Fall. Students that completely disengaged from learning those 3 months are lethargic, have slowed cognitive functioning, and to be honest, they’re a lot more bratty when getting back into the routine of learning and school.

Students that took the summer to relax but still engaged in learning and positive routines are more engaged, alert, and much less groggy when getting back into their school routines. So if you’re open to keeping kids busy by letting them have some productive screen time, some options are:

  1. Museum and national park virtual tours
  2. Online coding projects and classes
  3. The WordSmithers Academy is hosting writing workshops and even curating an anthology to spotlight the creative minds of our youth during the COVID-19 Quarantine.
  4. Bookful (https://bookful.app/) and Vooks are online services that use animated stories to encourage reading
  5. Babbel (https://www.babbel.com/), LingoBus (https://www.lingobus.com/), and Busuu (https://www.busuu.com/) are amazing programs for learning a new language
  6. Virtual escape rooms are fun ways to keep their critical thinking engaged during the summertime


So there you have it! 18 ways of keeping kids busy during summer and quarantine, a time where some of you may have limited access to camps, child care, and activities to keep your children busy. I hope these are helpful for you! And I would love to hear how it went if you do decide to try any of these with your own family! You can reach our on Instagram or right within our private parents’ Facebook group.

I am certain that if you implement my procedures and recommendations with your child, you will start to see significant changes in their motivation and their behavior towards school and learning. But if you’re still struggling with your kiddo’s learning and would like some individualized support, I highly encourage you to book a free 1:1 Academic Success Call with me.

In this call, we can talk more specifically about your child, your family’s needs, and my best advice on how to proceed in order to set your child up to have the absolute best chance at a lifetime of success, happiness, and financial stability. All you have to do is book an appointment.

Trust me – these will be the best 60-minutes you’ll spend on improving your parenting this week! I can’t wait to chat with you!

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