When playing with our children, especially the younger ones, we also want to be teaching. Four areas where you can foster growth in children, through play are engagement, nurture, structure, and challenge.
As parents, we want to enjoy the small moments connected with our children. Below are suggestions of quick, short activities to increase those precious times. The games are divided into four areas of focus, beginning with engagement.
The purpose of engaging activities is to connect with the child, playfully. The focus is on the relationship and encouraging new experiences.
- Beep and Honk: This activity is geared toward younger children (ages 1-3). Press the child’s nose and say beep, touch the chin and say honk! Guide your child to do the same to you. Make different special noises for each body part. Try to link a series of sounds and touches together.
- Butterfly Bubbles: Have the child hold out their hands as you blow “butterflies” or bubbles into them. Allow the child to describe the butterflies by color or markers such as spots or stripes. Slow down your breathing as you blow each butterfly into their hands and take time to admire each one.
Our next series of activities falls into the nurture category. Nurturing activities reinforce that the child is worthy of care and that adults can be trusted to provide that care. These games calm and regulate the child, while enhancing self-worth.
- Mani/Pedi Day: For older children (ages 8-15). Soak the hands and feet, apply lotion, and have fun polish colors to choose from.
- Painting Faces: Children of all ages enjoy having their faces painted. Allow them to choose from options of designs. Make sure to describe their rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes as you paint each area.
Structure is a skill we want all children to possess. Structuring organizes and regulates the experience for the child. The adult sets the limits and keeps the child safe during these activities.
- Cotton Ball Blow: This is a favorite of mine. The parent and child cup their hands, while blowing a cotton ball back and forth between them. An alternative is to use a cookie sheet and or scarf.
- Guess the Steps: Each player makes guesses about how many giant or baby, or heel-to-toe steps it would take to cross a room.
The final area we will discuss today is challenge games. Challenging activities encourage the child to take risks to gain competence and mastery.
- Balloon Tennis: See how many times you can hit a balloon back and forth before it touches the ground.
- Basket Toss: Using newspapers, or scratch papers crumple up the paper and attempt to toss it into a trash can. This is a fun one, but one I’m not very skilled at.
The purpose of these activities is to slow down life for a little bit and just enjoy your children. They take very little time and supplies to do. Drop me a comment and let me know which activity you would like to try this week.
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If you find your child is struggling with one or more of these areas and may need a little extra support, CONTACT me to discuss ways I can help.