Piling work loads and tightening work schedules leave parents with very short time to spend with their child. Mounting household chores cut through what little time they might manage to cook up. Even for homemakers, the scene isn’t any brighter.
So the whole question arises on how to engage child at home all through the day. Kids, being little balls of curiosity, get bored of the same activity very quickly and are constantly looking for new and new challenges. This often leaves parents clueless as to how to engage a child.
As a result, parents usually turn to the go to solution of today’s world – gadgets. These gadgets with their overflowing stream of contents, keep children engaged day-in and out. But are these gadgets the right way to engage children?
No, they aren’t!
There’s more to engaging children with meaningful activities than just ridding them of their boredom. Senior Psychologist Gayathri Rao from YourDOST explains, “every child needs to have physical activity and cognitively stimulating tasks every day.”
So before we take a look at the different ways through which we can engage children, let’s see why engaging them meaningfully matters so much.
Engaging children – why it matters!
1) Proper fostering
How often have you boasted that your child is mimicking you, even at a very young age?
Children are exposed to a lot of different things while growing up and they acquire all that they observe.
Meaningful activities are essential in teaching the right ideals. It not only ensures that your child gets to learn right from wrong, but also builds his/her knowledge base.
2) Better social interaction
Communication and social interaction are the backbone of a child’s development!
Without proper communication, your child will be unable to develop interactive skills which will affect his/her school life and eventually even work life.
But with meaningful activities your child gets engaged, interacts more, and thereby becomes more social.
3) Improved focus
Focus is essential for everything – from day-to-day activities to leisure-time reading. Lack of concentration affects not just academics, but even performance in small tasks.
By engaging children with meaningful activities — like playing chess, you can easily increase their concentration.
4) Healthy body
It is a generally known fact that the main aim of early age physical activities is to build a healthy body. So do you think your child gets enough physical activity?
To answer that, just remember how you used to run around and play in your childhood. Is your little one getting the same amount of movement? This is exactly why you need to engage him/her with meaningful activities like walking, running, etc.
Only then will your little one be able to develop stronger bones, muscles, better reflexes, and in turn a better immune system.
5) Develop imagination
When was the last time you saw your child playing with an imaginary friend? Imagination is key to your child’s development.
Only through imagination does your kid get new ideas and try them out in the real world, testing his/her own limits.
Activities like reading, playing, etc develop imagination and creativity. Apart from that, they also help in developing brain function.
So what can parents do amidst all the busy schedules to engage their children? Let’s take a look.
How to engage children – Tips from an Expert
When it comes to spending time with children, parents are but left in the dark. Be it working ones or the homemakers – both face entirely different challenges.
For working parents the overdue tasks and the scheduled appointments never seem to stop. Gayathri Rao a Senior Psychologist shares some tips as to how these challenges can be met. She explains,
- Avoid bringing work home with you. In case you have to, allow your child to sit with you. Engage them in an activity that would require them to concentrate (a jigsaw puzzle, or coloring etc) so they don’t disturb you, but still get to spend time with you.
- When you do have time to spend with your child, do things that they enjoy. Avoid reprimanding them, nor talking about school work/grades, during this time you.
- Take them out with you, when you need to run errands. Be it paying bills, giving your vehicle for service or going grocery shopping.
- Listen. Listen to your child. Even if it’s for 5 minutes a day and he/she wants to talk about the bug crawling in the garden, listen. It’s better than spending 3 hours with them and you talking all the while.
- Always be reachable to your child. Even if you can’t take a call or respond immediately, leave a message saying you will call back, and make sure you do.
For homemakers the challenge is to match and channelise the child’s energy while constantly coming up with new and better ideas every single day (which in reality is easier said than done). So here are
Activities to engage Children:
Colours are always a fascination for children and almost all of them love to paint. We bet your walls are a testimonial to that. Art is a great medium for children to express their imagination. It’s an important part of brain development. And is an excellent way to engage children indoors.
It is always exciting to splash some paint on paper. All you need to do is buy some paint and a canvas; you are good to go. You can give a picture to copy from or let your child draw from his/her imagination.
“(I) give drawing sheets and colours to my kids. (They) draw things, whatever they like, like favourite fruit, cartoons, sketches of things near by them”, says Purnima Arora, a parent.
2) Assisting in household chores
“Involve your child with your daily chores. For example if you are cooking, ask your child to help out with tiny tasks, like getting 5 tomatoes from the fridge, or washing the vegetables if they are a little older.”, explains Gayathri Rao.
“I have a 2year old. I engage him in our kitchen garden – plucking vegetables, watering plants etc. and involve him little household activity like cleaning”, says Tejaswini Kapil, a parent.
Household chores teach kids cleanliness, discipline, time management, and most importantly how to look after themselves.
“I place a few vegetables on the floor and ask my son to arrange them neatly as per their colour. For example all the green veggies goes in one box, potatoes in another box and so on. This not only engages him, but he has started learning the names of various fruits and veggies”, says Amrita Das, a parent.
It’s a great way to engage children indoors and at the same time, get the job done. If your child is unwilling to help, then:
- Assign simple tasks. See to it that your child doesn’t get stressed by the tasks.
- Create a to-do list for your child and you. This shows that you have work too. Besides, watching the to-do list shrink will be a great motivation for your child.
3) Paper craft
Like painting, paper craft activities also allow your child to express and are useful in enhancing creativity. One of the main advantages is that, by using old newspapers and books, you can teach your child about recycling.
Or, you can simply use coloured papers and craft papers to get them started and introduce recycling later. Start out by crafting small things like paper boats and paper planes and gradually introduce new ideas.
Paper craft activities take a lot of time and requires patience. So, it’s a good idea to create something interesting yourself first and present it to your child. They will peek his/her curiosity and thus help him/her get started.
“Everyone loves stories. Children most of all. A well-told story will always engage a child”, says Shailesh Vadagave, a parent.
Books present whole new worlds, develop the brain, builds imagination, and your child’s vocabulary. If your child, willingly spends a lot of time with books, then he/she is in safe hands.
However if this isn’t the case, you can do the following to get your child into reading:
- Choose a book in accordance with your child’s age. If your child is too young, you can start with picture books.
- Make sure that the content is not tough for your child as this is where you lay the foundation to his/her reading.
Also, asking your child to enact the story as you read adds to the fun.
Imagine watching your child walking with fairies and talking with rabbits! “Pretend play with your child will help. Role playing with your child using their toys” is a great way to engage your child, suggests Gayathri Rao.
“Create an area for pretend play. Get some clay or play dough. Let them create stories and act them out”, suggests Anu Gupta, a parent.
Play-act is also a great way for your child to live all his/her dreams. It’s easy.
- Choose your child’s favourite story or choose the one he/she came up with.
- Choose the character for you and your child.
- Now all that’s left to do is empty the closet, dress up, and start living the play.
Grandparents never get tired of their little ones and their plays. Their wholehearted excitement and constant encouragement makes them a wonderful audience. You can even invite your neighbours and their children and even they can be part of the play.
6) Building blocks
Remember the time when you built sand castles at the beach or stacked boxes at your home pretending they were fortresses? You spent hours at it and still never got bored.
How good was that? But ask yourselves, when was the last time you saw your kid having the same fun?
Building blocks is an easy ways to let your little one demonstrate his/her imagination. In fact, you can easily work with household items like boxes, or even utensils.
7) Treasure hunting
Children love finding hidden things. This is where treasure hunting comes in. All you need to do is hide a chocolate, a box, or any household thing, i.e., the treasure. Write some interesting clues, hide them, and start the game.
The aim of the game is for your child to find the treasure. In order to do that, he/she has to first find and solve each clue. The more the number of clues, the longer the game will last.
8) Card & Board games
Cards can be played in more than one way. All you need to do is decide which game to play. The fun increases further if there are more members.
However, if your kid is too young for card games, then you can use the cards to teach him/her shapes, numbers and even counting.
Board games help develop concentration, tactics, patience, and a lot more. Chess, snakes and ladders, monopoly — the list goes on.
- If it’s just you and your child, then you can have a great game of snakes and ladders or chess.
- If all of the family is available, then you can take to monopoly.
- These board games add to the developmental aspects and help you bond with your child.
Through these sure shot methods, you can easily engage children indoors and develop all the key skills. Besides, you get to spend quality time and bond better with your child.
Do try these methods and tell us which ones worked best for you. Don’t forget to share your experiences and any other activity suggestions that we might’ve missed.
Article originally published on – October 19, 2016, updated on – March 20, 2017
90% of a child’s permanent foundation for brain development occurs in the early years according to Rauch Foundation. An overuse of gadgets can only stunt this growth and cause a negative impact on the child’s overall development.
If your child is spending more time swiping and scrolling, instead of interaction with the real world, you need to act before it’s too late.
Find out if your child is being meaningfully and positively engaged by taking this simple quiz.