Simple efficient ways to keep your child engaged
The pandemic has made us all wear many hats at once. Especially for parents and caregivers of young kids, juggling many roles has been more of a challenge. When asked, most parents and caregivers share that their biggest struggle is the lack of time available to set up activities for their children or even spend meaningful interactive time with them on a regular basis.
However, it doesn't have to be one or the other. The simplest and most efficient way to engage your child is to involve them in what you are doing at home. This not only helps strengthen the bond with them but also helps them feel valued.
For example -
1. Depending on the age of the child, the kitchen is a fantastic place to start. If your child is under one, have them sit in a high chair, while you cook in the kitchen, giving them ingredients to smell and taste - this is great for Sensory development.
2. As they get older, including them in prep work - washing, peeling, chopping are some ways to help them be engaged.
3. Gardening helps refine life skills as your child plucks the dead leaves, waters plants or even digs around in the dirt.
4. Loading and unloading the dishwasher teaches life skills as well as math concepts like counting and sorting.
5. Laundry has always been one of my daughter's favorite chores. Again, this is a great way to teach colour sorting and develop life skills. Hanging clothes to dry, with pegs, develops fine motor skills too!
Of course, all of this isn't easy - start slow and soon you will see your child actually helping instead of making a mess. It takes time, the trick is to be consistent. Now I understand it is not always possible to have your child do what you do. We all need some downtime to rest and unwind. We also might need some time to work!
What worked for us, is creating a safe space. It could be an entire room or just a corner of a room. This should be a space free of sharp edges, electrical sockets or anything else that could be dangerous. Set up a shelf with books and some age-appropriate toys that your child can play with independently. Gradually increase the amount of time your child spends in this space.
And lastly, at least twice a week (if you can do more, then great), have a dedicated hour where you actively engage with your child and develop certain skills. During this time, no distractions. Do not check your phone. It's just you and your child. You can read, sing, dance, go for a walk - anything that will make the two of you happy!
You don't need to prepare elaborate activities. Work with what you have. 90% of a child's work and only 10% yours, oftentimes, we mix the two and feel frustrated after spending so much time getting something ready for our children and they don't want to have to do anything with it. Something as simple as adding cups and spoons to bath time can keep your child busy and engaged while teaching math concepts like counting and measurement.
Follow @makingplayhappen to see all the strategies mentioned above in action!