As a parent, you play the greatest role in your child’s development. Finding engaging activities isn’t only vital for homeschooled children. Participation in activities that encourage creativity and cognitive development begins with you.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of child engagement for developing young bodies and minds. After all, you have a lot of competition from various screens. Here are seven activities to help you spark your little one’s imagination and get them involved in healthy pastimes.
Dance might be one of the most beneficial activities for adults and children alike for brain protection and development. Following the steps entails a neuroplasticity component that helps stave off dementia in adults. It could also bolster cognitive development in your children.
Push the furniture back to the edges of your living room to give yourself more of a performance stage. Then, crank the tunes and invite your littles to get up and make up a routine. Challenge each other to imitate each other’s moves and work collaboratively to create a finished product that you can rehearse and perform together — perhaps to entertain the in-laws?
Getting your kids moving in nature engages them while improving their mood — and yours. Being outdoors helps your body produce endorphins and boosts dopamine levels, leading to increased happiness. You know you feel terrific when you share smiles with your little one.
If you have a nature center or museum grounds near you, even better. Many such areas have placards giving information about various plants and trees. Take a notebook and jot down interesting things about each species you identify. You can also use various apps for plant and animal identification to explore the habitats surrounding the place where you live.
Stories have the power to inspire, teach and even heal. Making up a tale with others engages your child and teaches them valuable skills like making predictions, understanding various characters’ emotional motivations and cooperating with others. It also gives them a chance to exercise their creativity.
You can spark this project by building a stage and making puppets out of socks or empty paper towel rolls. Then, encourage your children to act out some of their favorite stories. Encourage them to get creative and change the endings. How would the tale be different if so-and-so did this instead of that?
You might think playing an instrument is out of reach if you’re a parent on a budget. However, music engages the imagination, and you don’t need to shell out thousands for a Stradivarius or purchase a violin at all. Your local dollar store probably has simple gadgets like recorders and xylophones that have younger children creating beautiful music. You can also DIY — soup-pot drugs, anyone?
You can use shared activities, too. Did you decide to take up ukulele lessons during the pandemic shutdowns? Why not share your new skills with your little ones? You can get the entire family involved, creating tunes and performing them.
Even short bouts of travel engage young minds and get them interested in learning. Is there a museum, planetarium or science center near you? If so, investigate special student discounts and take your clan to explore on the weekend — or a Friday if you homeschool your kids or let them play the occasional game of hooky.
What if your field trip Friday falls on a gray, rainy day — or the week between paychecks when your wallet holds only moths? You can still get away right in your living room. Many famous world museums offer virtual tours, allowing you to visit from the privacy and comfort of home.
Baking from scratch is an excellent child engagement activity for young minds for several reasons. One, it gets them excited to learn — the lure of licking the batters is enough to get kids in the kitchen. Two, it teaches vital math lessons, even a bit of physics when you discuss things like how heat and altitude affect things like pizza crusts — as anyone who’s ever lived in Denver can attest.
You can start with simple recipes. You might even opt for no-bake versions when mixing it up with the tiniest tots. As your children grow in skills, encourage them to try more intricate instructions.
Woodworking engages the mind and body. Sure, you can buy a build-a-birdhouse kit, and you might want to do so for your first project. However, you can also emphasize the importance of cognitive engagement by having older, more experienced kids design one from scratch.
Please follow all safety instructions and supervise your children when using tools. Model the behavior you want to see, like using goggles to protect your eyes when using a saw.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of child engagement to their physical and cognitive development. Try these seven activities to get your kids involved and moving today.