Parents have to deal with many unexpected things with raising a child. It’s part of the job. Despite that, you probably didn’t expect to deal with schools suddenly closing for the year and a government order to primarily stay inside. In these challenging times, you can try new and interesting ways to not only keep your child entertained but also help them practice some academic skills. Use this list of activities to help keep your child occupied during this time.
1. Play-DohPlay-Doh is a simple and easy way to get your child doing a hands-on activity where they can use their imagination. You might not usually allow your children to use Play-Doh in the house, but given the need for entertainment options, perhaps this time can be an exception. Set your children up in an area of your home where there’s as little furniture or other items around in your home that you don’t want Play-Doh to get on. You could also place some sheets on the floor to keep it from getting on your carpet. You can enjoy the creations your child puts together, and even show them what you can make with Play-Doh. You and your children can easily stay at a distance from each other while enjoying this activity.
2. Math workbooksSchools across the country have been shut down for a few weeks, or in some cases, the rest of the school year. You may be concerned if your child will get behind in learning during this time period. Math workbooks can be a good remedy for keeping your child’s mind active and learning. You can continue to improve their math skills, so they’ll be ready to do well for the next school year. You may think math workbooks might be boring for your children, but you can find specially designed math books that make learning fun and engaging.
3. PuzzlesIf you remember doing puzzles growing up, you probably remember how long it took to put them together. Puzzles can be a great way to keep you and your child focused on something for a few hours. This activity can not only be fun, but it can also help enhance your child’s problem-solving skills. Additionally, when you’re doing puzzles, the neurotransmitter dopamine is produced, which makes us feel good. There are many different kinds of puzzles. You can perhaps try to find one that relates to any of your child’s interests. An example would be if your child is into superheroes, you can see if you can find a puzzle of their favorite superhero.
4. CardsThere are a number of activities you and your children can do with a deck of cards. You can teach your child how to play Solitaire, Go Fish, and many other games you enjoyed growing up. Do you know how to do magic? If so, this can be the time you can show all of your card tricks to your child, and even teach how to do them. In addition to playing games and doing tricks, you could also show your child how to stack cards into a pyramid. There are a number of endless possibilities with cards that can keep you and your child entertained.
5. CostumesIt may not be Halloween yet, but you can have a fun time dressing up in costumes with your children. Pull out some of your child’s favorite Halloween outfits. Let them have fun pretending to be a police officer or a nurse for a few hours. You could also let them put together their own costumes with some of your old clothes. If you want to take the fun another step further, allow them to put on a performance with their costumes on. Enjoy the hilarity of your child’s acting.
6. BooksAbout 74% of Americans have read a book in the last 12 months. This is a great time for you and your child to read some of your favorite books and read some new books as well. In fact, you could start a book club. After you and your children finish reading the same book, or a chapter of a book, you can discuss it. You could diversify your book selections by switching between reading creative fictional novels and reading interesting non-fiction, such as autobiographies. You can choose to read with each other silently, or you could take turns reading the book aloud. Reading aloud could be helpful in your child learning how to pronounce new words.
7. SailboatYour child might like this unconventional idea. You can grab a tray or pan and fill it with water. Once you have it filled up, you and your child can work on making a homemade sailboat. Real sailboats are used in both freshwater and saltwater, but only 3% of the earth's water is freshwater. This is also a great opportunity to teach about the world's waterways. If you have a piece of foam around, use it as the base of the boat. Poke a toothpick on to the foam at a slight angle. Take a small square piece of paper, slightly fold it back, and use the top of the toothpick to a poke hole through it to make a sail. The boat will be finished, and your child can have fun watching how the boat moves just by blowing towards it. In addition to having fun with the boat sailing, you and your child can enjoy seeing how water moves differently when blowing on it with a straw.
8. Art suppliesSimilar to using Play-Doh, using art supplies to draw and paint can be another hands-on activity that allows your child to explore their imagination. You and your child could practice drawing objects in the room. If your kids are a little older, teach them about some of the most famous artists in history. It can be a great learning activity to discuss the style of the artists and practice creating a drawing or painting in that style. Additionally, you and your kids could also have fun drawing through playing Pictionary. The object of the game is to guess a word or phrase based on what a player is drawing.
Try all of these activities to help keep your child occupied. While this is an uncertain time in life right now, it’s important to find ways for your children to continue learning and enjoying their childhood. As much as you’re helping them be entertained, you’ll even be helping yourself while you're working from home.
Devin is a writer and an avid reader. When she isn't lost in a book or writing, she's busy in the kitchen trying to perfect her slow cooker recipes. You can find her poetry published in The Adirondack Review and Cartridge Lit.