12 Ways for Raising Kids Who Are Engaged without Frying Their Brains
If experience has taught us anything about childcare, it’s that children sniff out the nearest gadget with the relentlessness of a hungry cat. And, if science has taught us anything, it’s that unlimited screen time may be harmful to a child’s development.
That’s not to say that technology should be shunned outright. Sure, the Internet can be a child’s first real gateway to the magical world of procrastination, but it’s also home to a lot of incredibly valuable information. I mean, how else are we supposed to know that Steve Buscemi used to be a New York Firefighter.
Though the Internet is our business, here at Healthversed, we sympathize with your earnest attempt to shelter your children (or grandchildren) from an endless deluge of half-baked political discourse. So today, we’ve ransacked the Public Library’s collection of vintage toy store catalogues to compile a comprehensive list of tech-less activities for you and your youngster. Ready? Let’s go!
Read To Them
Looking for an engaging, educational, and enjoyable indoor pastime? Look no further than your bookshelf. Well, that’s assuming that you do in fact have a bookshelf. You know, one that actually holds books. If you don’t, you should get one pronto. Take it from me, bookshelves make pretending to be smart so much easier. More importantly, bookshelves in the home encourage the children living there to read more.
But I digress. Not only is reading to a little one much more engaging than say, watching the novel’s insulting made-for-TV version, it’s also a lot more personal. For example, I can’t hear the name Sherlock Holmes without also hearing my father’s horrendous excuse for an English accent.
Play Board Games
It is of my personal opinion that all board games should come packaged with a warning from the Surgeon General. Something like, “Warning: May cause irreparable damage to fragile relationships,” would do fine. Though they can often act as great gateways to family feuds, board games can be incredibly educational.
Chess can teach a child foresight. Euchre can teach a child about teamwork. Monopoly can teach a child that, no matter how delicious Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies are, she just can’t be trusted around pink 5’s and yellow 10’s. I remember it like it was yesterday. “You see, the thing about cookies,” Grandma said to a nine year old me, “is that you can’t buy a hotel with them.”
Children love two things: eating and making a mess. And let’s face it, us adults like it too. That’s because, with the right attitude, cooking can be a heck of a lot of fun. But getting your children familiar with food, the kitchen, and the inevitable kitchen cleanup is about more than just fun. It teaches them a valuable life skill too!
The Food Network has a great list of simple cooking-with-kids recipes to get you started. So, put the stand mixer away, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to get your hands dirty.
Arts and Crafts
As a child, I was led to believe that activities like finger painting and birdhouse building didn’t exist outside of the classroom. That is, until my father loaded my sister and I into our bright red family mini-van and took us to our local hardware store’s kid-friendly workshop day. And oh what a wondrous day it was.
If you flinch at the prospect of acrylic paint stains on your freshly carpeted family room, sign your children up for a local arts and crafts event. Or, if your braver than my own parents, check out this great list of fun, simple and inexpensive art projects.
Here’s another thing that both children and adults can usually agree on: music is awesome. Sure, your musical palate may be a little more civilised than your child’s, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find common ground.
Download the soundtrack to their favorite Disney flick, take them to a local concert, or pick up an instrument and put on a little concert of your own. And hey, you never know! They may even ask you to pick them up an instrument of their very own. Here at Healthversed, we understand how great an impact a musical education can have on a child’s development. Time Magazine does, too.
Gardening has always been a welcome excuse for children and adults to make a guilt-free mess. Don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered. I love this video so much. Not only are the kids genuinely enjoying the process, but their parents have allocated a “gardening area” for each child.
This family used Miracle Grow Pods, but in my humble opinion, visiting your local garden centre is much more fun and engaging. Get your child involved in the process by allowing them to choose the plants, plant them, and watch them grow.
Teach Them Something New
Childhood is about discovery, experimentation, and education. Embrace the blank slate of childhood development and teach your child something new. If you know a lot about cars, lift your minivan’s hood and start talking. Fancy yourself a handy woman? Ask your kid to hold the flashlight. Exposing your child to new hobbies and teaching them new skills is infinitely more fun than couch time. And who knows, your child may even teach you a thing or two.
Play a Sport
The fastest way to unplug your kids from their digital universe? Get active! Nobody has ever hit a fastball with an iPhone in hand. Not only that, but we can all benefit from integrating a little more exercise into our daily lives.
Don’t let your little one waste the summertime daylight indoors watching cartoons! Sign them up for soccer, baseball, basketball, or hockey. They’ll meet new friends, learn about teamwork, and maybe even win a couple games. It’s important to recognize that sports are about much more than unplugging from social media. Participating in extra-curricular sports has been shown to positively impact a child’s health, behavior, and educational performance too.
This one should come with a bit of a warning. Not all kids like puzzles. But the ones that do absolutely love them! Crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku … the list of fun and engaging brain teasers is endless. They’re also relatively inexpensive.
I get it. Getting your kid to sit still long enough to eat their mashed potatoes is difficult enough. You know your child better than anyone on a website ever could. I like to think about it like this: if your child likes video games then your child likes puzzles. The trick is finding one that your child can enjoy.
Clean the House
With the right mindset and the right playlist, cleaning can actually be fun. No, seriously. And there’s nothing that a child hates more than being left out of a fun activity. Teach your child about the importance of, and their responsibility to, keeping their play areas clean. Make a game of it. Or bribe them. Whatever gets them to put down the tablet and pick up the duster is certainly fine in our books.
Help Them with Homework
Homework can be a real drag for a young one, but it doesn’t always have to be. Sure, little Jimmy may prefer to be outside frolicking with his little friends, but it’s important not to underestimate the value of a parental helping hand. By getting involved in your child’s homework assignments you create valuable opportunities to discuss learning strategies and offer support. Taking an interest in your child’s education can be incredibly important and valuable too. Hey, we didn’t say that everything on this list had to be fun.
Go on an Adventure
Some of my favorite memories as a child center around those seemingly spontaneous weekend family adventures. A matinee at the local theatre, a Saturday morning garage sale shopping spree, a weeknight trip to the art gallery. Uncover your own childlike curiosity, put down the remote control, and take your child on an adventure.
Moments like these are precious and the opportunities to enjoy them are fleeting. Don’t let them pass you by. Quit telling yourself next weekend, next month, or next year. The perfect time to unplug, engage, and have fun is right now. So what are you waiting for?