When I published my last article on “Early Spectacles“, there were many mails and pings querying me on other ways to keep the kids engaged.. I followed some simple methods that flashed my mind to keep my kid busy.. Sharing those with you today…
I started introducing books from 6 months of her age. She loved to watch the colorful pages of the books and the repeated articulations/comments that I make on each page. I still remember that the first book I introduced her was “Fruits and Vegetables”. I do bring the veggies and fruits from the fridge and match the ones in the book. In just a month or two, she started identifying them both on the book and on the table..
Whatever stuff I have introduced her through books, I deliberately show her wherever I encounter. We both enjoy this relative study. Types of books have changed according to her interest and mental growth. Still, books are our best companions. In her 3.5 years, she identified 70+ pictures(On topics like National Leaders,Freedom Fighters,Poets,Scientists,Professions,Sports,Sportstars,Flags) and told them aloud in her pre-school Annual day dais. She recited a speech and thirukkural on the same day. Actually, at her early 3’s she was trained for 10 thirukkurals and it is really a gift to watch her reciting each kural in her prattling speech. Touchwood! My lil princess is turning 4 in exactly 1 month(Sep 1 2016) and this special post reminisces me of the past 4 lovely years 🙂
Other than books, try to involve them in household chores. They can help in cooking from picking veggies, peeling onion/potato/peas skin, dusting chapathi balls in flour, counting cooker whistles, putting back dried vessels to the cupboard and whatever possible in your kitchen! Daily night, I do plan with my kid for next day’s menu. Nowadays, when I plan for some veggie and if I am skeptical about it’s availability, I ask her help. She slowly gets down the bed, strolls to kitchen, switches on the light, opens the fridge, cross-checks, switches off the light(everytime) and gives me the report! Our worlds are not different, indeed.
If I want to wash clothes the next day, I do ask her to remind me and she does. She brings her soil box and pushes me to bring ours. We do drop our clothes in the machine. When it’s done, she pulls me from kitchen. I have to hand over the clothes to her and she puts them in the dryer. Once dried, she walks all her way and brings cloth by cloth to the closet room for me to fold them. One day, she was sleeping(afternoon nap), she suddenly sprung up when she heard dryer ending sound and got down to start folding marathon!
Bath time – Choosing their dress, bringing their towel, putting the worn dress into soil box – all could be done by them and by this way we can make them more responsible. Do not miss hours of fun time in water during summer. Just fill a bath tub/a large vessel/bucket with water and let them enjoy splish splashing !!!
While you are ironing or doing something which cannot be done with the lil one, just try this color game to keep them engaged – Finding colors in the room – I say a color and she finds some object in the room with that color – Then she says a color and I find it with eyes – This goes on till all objects in the room are covered – Sometimes this will be a color splash – We pick a color and we keep on identifying all objects of the same color one by one – No rule or end to your creative playing !
Actually, Nilaa enjoys vocal games – we choose a topic and keep on telling names under that – famous topics we covered – fruits, vegetables, flowers, vehicles, friends/relatives names, birds, wild, domestic and sea animals – Alphabets word splash say A for Apple, Apricot, Aeroplane, Alligator, Ant, Arrow, Anchor, Apron, Ape – This way they learn more words, improves memory power and easily gains interest in learning.
I use this word game to keep her engaged in the car whenever she troubles. In car, there are many other ways like identifying shops and flex ad boards on the same route – Identifying area names – Counting a type of vehicle on the road say car is to me and truck/lorry adds to her count and whoever reaches 10 first is the winner.
There are specially dedicated play time for us at home. At that time, we always start with different types of walks. This might seem funny but I personally felt that this provokes their creative thinking skill. We stand apart and I narrate a type of walk say right hand pointing to sky and left hand pointing to earth, come jogging – we both do that and jog forward to change places – then she narrates left hand in the hip and right hand waving, come hopping – we play this for nearly an hour – I include opposites, action words, good habits & whatever strikes my mind in the same game to learn with fun.
Then we move to singing rhymes with actions, followed by hide and seek. We end with dancing to cini songs 😉 Fy Fy Fy is her all time favourite!!! When I am tired, we opt for play dough, building blocks, magic slate, copy colouring books. Activities books and worksheets make us more interesting.. Really they rock ! Bursting bubbles in bubble wraps from online orders offer hours of entertainment.
Dad’s time is drill time 😉 They shed more energy. With dad, she enjoys running race, chasing, throw ball and pillow games. He lines up all her toys and hides one – she finds the missing one and she hides one and asks him to find. I admire this missing toy game as she finds correctly everytime among 10 to 15 toys. He always tests her memory. He blindfolds her and asks the color or placement of any object at home. Spending quality time with kids is more valuable than buying them costly toys.
Other than this, take them out to the park and let them shed some energy there. Walking, cycling, swimming are add-ons. Often visit friends/relatives and let them mingle with other kids. Time spent with grand-parents are remarkable. Lending libraries exclusively for kids are becoming popular in most of the metropolitan cities. Become a member and do not miss the story times and other interesting activities.
Shopping with kids seem to be an exhausting drill for many parents. My suggestion is just encourage them to plan and shop with you. Let them prepare the shopping list. The one in the pic(She has written M as W) was prepared when Nilaa was 3.7 yrs. Actually, she started gradually from 3+ yrs. Do not just dictate, but let them also check the availability of the item in your fridge or store room.
In the shop, kids could hold the list and tick the items taken. Finding the items that you search for and picking the items that they could handle are techniques to keep them busy. Much smaller kids can enjoy sitting in the trolley and having smaller items at hand. Elder kids can check the expiry dates of each product picked. After returning home, ask their help to keep the items in respective places.
Sleeping time – Briefly recollect the activities of that day with them – Recollect what fruits and veggies they had and what nutrients they got out of it and how stronger and sharper they are growing – Classify good and bad habits – we play this as a bedtime game where I tell all her good habits of that day and she tells her bad habits of that day – Appreciate the good habits and insist on rectifying the bad ones. Plan for tomorrow’s meals, games, dress and other activities. Telling or reading a story and sleeping with a good night wish and a sweet kiss ends your day happily for a fresh start.
Oooh… Wrote a long essay!! Just wanted to insist that there are n number of ways to keep the kid engaged other than watching a screen. After few years, I wish to write part II of this article as my world would widen as per Nilaa’s age and interest. Pick the methods those seem to be sensible and are applicable to your kid’s age. Try and share your experiences. Happy parenting!
Every parent is an inventor. Share me the methods invented by you in the comments section for the benefit of all the readers..