I have a few friends who are former teachers and are now amazing stay-at-home moms, who have decided to home school their children. Just thinking about how awesome teaching is and seeing all those little light bulbs spark each day; and then to think about the same thing happening with your very own children, I can only imagine the joy these friends must feel. These amazing stay-at-home moms are my inspiration for today’s post.
Not a stay-at-home mom? You don’t home school your child? NO PROBLEM! This list can work for you during the weekends, over holidays, during Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Summer breaks.
I scoured my brain to think up the best activities for parent/child bonding. Then, I thought about the different activity’s relationship to learning. I thought of play therapy and filial therapy. I thought of creativity and self-monitoring. I thought about developing confident children. And then I came up with this list:
Cooking with your children is a powerful bonding experience. Not only is it time you get to spend one-on-one with your child (notice I say child NOT daughter), but your child is experiencing so many valuable life skills. Following directions, measurement, reading, writing, creativity, seeing a product of hard work, patience, developing the 5 senses. The list could go on and on. Start small . . . making a bowl of cereal, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, macaroni and cheese. Then build up as your child gets older or more interested. Start making cookies, soups, play doh, bread. As you cook, think out loud. Let your child hear what it sounds like to think, problem solve, laugh, sing.
Photo Credit: Cooking With Friends
2. Nature Hikes
I wrote about this earlier this summer. It is still one of my favorite activities to do with my kiddos at school. During some of my small groups, I take them on a walk around campus and we discuss what’s going on around us. If you missed the original post, check it out here.
Photo Credit: The Counselor Stop
3. Finger Painting
Finger painting is probably one the most feared children’s activities of all times. Why? Because it’s messy! But that’s why it’s so important. Finger painting not only helps children with fine motor development, it helps develop their creativity, it helps develop a sense of imperfection. Ever tried to place to finger paint colors side by side without them mixing? It’s nearly impossible! Mistakes and mess are what finger painting is all about. Teach your child that things don’t have to be perfect, things don’t have to be clean or organized. I’ll be the first to admit . . . I should have finger painted WAY more as a child. My anxiety as an adult may even be cured by a little finger painting now.
Use finger paint to help study language, reading, and math concepts in a fun way. Draw shapes, spell words, do math problems. Develop adjectives and sensory words as you work in finger paints with your child. “This is sticky, squishy, cold.”
Photo Credit: Multiple Realities
4. Sensory Boxes
A Sensory Box is a tactile experience contained in a storage container and usually has a theme (birds, rainbows, fish, firefighters). To create a sensory box, simply fill a container with craft sand, birdseed, rice, beans, or even water. The container should be large enough to let your child explore without moving the filler out of the container. Be sure the bin has some sort of scoop or shovel. Then just begin collecting any thing and every thing to place in different themed bins. If you type in sensory box (or sensory bin) into Pinterest you will be provided with more options than you could even image!
Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning.
Photo Credit: Chronicle Books
5. Field Trips
A field trip does not have to be anything fancy in my book. Take your child out around town and talk to them about what you are seeing. The zoo, children’s museums, food bank, grocery shopping, the pumpkin patch, the garden shore, Home Depot. Really the sky is your limit. Going to Home Depot? Before hand talk about why, who works there, what do people buy. Then, develop a scavenger hunt . . . i.e. your shopping list. Make a trip you are already planning to take into an adventure for your little one. Use their curiosity to your own advantage. Scavenger Hunts are HUGE and can be done almost ANYWHERE! Give your child a list of things to “find” as you walk around a store, the zoo, museum, aquarium. After you find it, talk about it for a minute before you find the next thing. If you are grocery shopping and need peanut butter, have your child find a peanut butter jar with red on it and add it to your basket. On your way to pick up the next thing on your list, talk to your child about how peanut butter is made, what recipes it can go it, it’s texture, smell, etc.
Photo Credit: Hard News Cafe