Winter is upon us, and like last year, many of us are sticking close to home. It can be hard to think of things to do as a family. Little ones may be bored and you may be out of ideas for them, and older kids may retreat to their devices and spend little time with family. Video games are popular for kids of all ages, but it’s important to expand our children and teens’ world to show them that there are many other ways to have fun indoors.
Here are a few ways to connect with your kids when stuck inside:.
For Younger Kids: There are so many benefits to reading with your child. There are the educational benefits that come with reading as a family at every age, but it can also be a way of bonding. Read to your young child and ask him or her to read to you. Point to the pictures to help them to figure out the words. Pick all kinds of materials to read together from your local library. You can also access audiobooks via apps or even youtube. Pause to listen and discuss the story- ask your child what they think will happen next? Which character is their favorite and why? Draw your own illustrations together. Remember to keep it fun and low pressure.
Make a Book: Another way to foster a love of reading in children is to allow them to become “authors”. Staple or clip some paper together, or make holes and bind with string. Allow your kids to write and illustrate a story. Together you can tell a story about your family, or a beloved character, or allow your child to make a new world of settings and characters. Let them draw illustrations or print images for them to use. This will help build your child’s creative, artistic and linguistic skills. Display your child’s book proudly and read it often!
For Older Kids: Reading is fundamental to all subjects your child will learn from now through college. Your child is never too old for you to read as a family. Is there a topic your teen seems interested in? You can create a family book club. Choose books to read and come together to discuss. You can also listen to audiobooks – turn off the television for a while and use your imaginations to envision the stories you hear. If your child loves movies, read a book that’s been made into a film. Read the book, watch the movie, and discuss how the two compare.
Is your child a writer? Do they love to write song lyrics, poems or stories? Encourage your writer to write what they love.
Play Board Games or Make Puzzles: Many children these days haven’t had the chance to enjoy the fun of family board games. You can go old school with little children with games like Candyland or Chutes & Ladders. You can play simple card games like Old Maid. Older children may enjoy learning about strategizing and how to handle money playing Monopoly. There are simple card games you can play with older children and teens- you will be surprised by how much fun these games can be for kids when you play as a family. They will learn important social skills too such as turn-taking, following the rules and what it means to be a good sport. Schedule a game night and enjoy!
Puzzles teach people of all ages important skills like spatial reasoning (how pieces come together to form a whole), paying attention to details, persisting at something when it’s challenging, and dealing with frustration. For little ones, start with simple puzzles and move up to puzzles with more pieces gradually. For older kids, set up a card table and work on a puzzle together as a family. Spend an hour or a few minutes a day working together to complete it. Celebrate how you each played a role when it’s done! As you get better, increase the complexity of your puzzle.
Make Art, Crafts or Cook Together: Creative expression teaches kids a healthy way to express who they are and how they feel. Also, being creative as a family is just a lot of fun. If you aren’t artsy or into crafts, find simple ideas on pinterest of things to make. A project can be very inexpensive and simple to start. Over time, you and your child could learn a new artistic skill such as painting, knitting or model car building.
Cooking can also be a fun way to get creative and to develop an important life skill. Teach your kids how to prepare simple meals, choose a recipe or follow an expert online. Have cook -offs or bake- offs, but keep them positive and fun. Praise everyone’s efforts!!
Have a Performer? Have a Family Talent Show, or Have Your Kids Put on a Play: Does your child love to sing, dance or act? Celebrate their talents as a family. Your old clothes can make for great costumes and kids can have fun finding creative props. Have your child act out a favorite book or scene from a show or a movie. Film them so they can see themselves. Performing can help build your child’s confidence and allow them to practice in front of an “audience” in a supportive environment.
Older kids may enjoy serving as producers, directors, choreographers or camera men.
Stay Active Together: Exercising out in the cold may not appeal to you, but it’s important for everyone’s health that you stay active as a family, so it’s time to get creative indoors!
For little kids: Playing simple, active games is an easy way to get moving. Play Simon Says or Follow the Leader. Remember to let your child lead sometimes.
For older kids: Try a new workout together right in your living room. Explore your options on youtube together. Yoga? Cardio Boot Camp? What works for you? Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in kids and so is good for both their mental and physical health! Don’t let the cold get in your way.
Try these ideas to keep busy and connected and before we know it, spring will be here!