Looking for something new and interesting to do with your preschooler other than dancing, singing and arts activities, to engage her. Here are some offbeat activities to do with her after school.
By Leena Ghosh
“I am bored!”
These are the three words every parent dreads hearing from his child. School eliminates boredom by introducing routine into your child’s life, and provides an enriching experience through learning-based activities. However, how your child spends his time after school also impacts his educational growth and has a bearing on his character development.
According to a study titled ‘After School Programs in the 21st Century: Their Potential and What It Takes to Achieve It’ by Dr Priscilla MD Little et al, published by the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) in 2008, there are many benefits to engaging your child in after-school activities. The study states, ‘A decade of research and evaluation studies, as well as large-scale, rigorously conducted syntheses looking across many research and evaluation studies, confirm that children and youth who participate in after school programs can reap a host of positive benefits in a number of interrelated outcome areas—academic, social/emotional, prevention, and health and wellness.’
Now that you know the benefits, we tell you about some offbeat activities that’ll engage your child in a constructive way and make sure that she’s having fun too.
Snack art: Is your child a fussy eater? Then this activity is sure to get her interested in food and teach her how to be creative. Make a banana boat or a watermelon porcupine (with the help of toothpicks) and take her help in decorating the snack. There are many websites that give step-by-step instructions on how to create snack art.
Making an alphabet book: This activity will teach your child the letters of the alphabet and he will also have fun learning in the process. Cut out letters from different coloured paper and assist your child in gluing them on to a notebook. You can even draw images corresponding to the letters, like ‘A for apple’ and ‘B for ball,’ etc.
Create a colour and shape collage: Take white chart paper and divide it into zones based on colours. Ask your child to colour in the different zones with primary colours. Then cut out different shapes (squares, triangles and circles) from regular paper, colour them and ask your child to put them in corresponding colour zones. For example, in the red zone, paste red heart-shaped cut outs, in the blue zone, paste blue circle cut outs and in the green zone, paste green triangles.
Enact a story: Story times are usually fun times for the child. However, you can add your own twists to the story-telling session by acting out different characters of the story. If there are animals in the story, make the animal noises. If possible, engage the entire family by assigning different roles to each member and ask your child to imitate the noise to engage her in the process as well.
Use building blocks: Rather than asking your child to play with his building blocks, help him build a castle or a train with it. Get creative and develop a story line to go along with the items you build and see your child’s creativity unfurl.
Wall art: This might sound a little messy, but with proper planning and precaution, this activity can not only be fun but also help your child develop his motor and creative skills. Stick a big sheet of chart paper on the wall, buy some child-friendly finger paint and ask your little one to paint whatever he wants on the paper, using his finger or brushes. You can join in on the fun and create a masterpiece together!
Build an obstacle course: Before you start worrying about the space and the effort you would need to put into building an obstacle course for your preschooler, let us enumerate the skills she can develop by mastering an obstacle course. This activity will enhance her sensory input (picking or shifting heavy or light objects), help build her strength, memory and sense of balance (moving, climbing and crossing obstacles), strategise and plan her movements and increase bilateral coordination.
To build an obstacle course at home you will need big pillows, sofa cushions, floor mat/ yoga mat, objects of different weights your child can lift and a creative bent of mind. Draw the obstacle course on a sheet of paper before you build it. Base it on your child’s age and her skills.
The important thing to remember here is that it is okay sometimes to let your child get bored. Unstructured play time is as important as doing constructive activities with him. However, try not to hand over your phone to him as soon as he is bored as this will not encourage him to think creatively and independently.
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