As our daughter Ally grew from a baby to a toddler and now a preschooler, she became more active and needed more activities to occupy her at home. A bored child can easily become moody or find other things to do at home, things you might not want them doing, such as emptying the contents of your drawer. I therefore made a basic schedule of a variety of things Ally could safely do and bought items for these activities. Instead of just letting her watch TV all the time, or play on the tablet everyday, we chose indoor activities that are excellent for her growth and development.
Because we didn’t want her listening to just about any song on the radio especially those with child-inappropriate lyrics, I downloaded most of the songs for her. We also bought a children’s songs audio CD. The music she listens to and sings along with are composed of Bible songs, children’s songs, Disney OST, and Christian songs. One of her favorites is “How Great Is Our God”.
We do let Ally watch a couple of hours of TV per day but we only let her watch kid-friendly shows such as Disney Junior, Nick Junior and occasionally, depending on the show, Nat Geo, Discovery, and Food Network. One of her favorite TV shows is Hi-5. She enjoys imitating their dances. We also let her dance to kids’ action songs, and upbeat Christian songs for kids like “Free As A Bee (Crazy Noise)” by Hillsong Kids.
Give your child any writing paper, notebook or workbook and let her scribble away. Writing materials can be pencils (make sure they’re not too sharp) or crayons if your child is more comfortable with those. We have a clipboard where I clip a piece of bond paper or a manila paper cutout so that Ally could just write whatever she likes. If it’s her first time to do this, make sure you guide her until she gets used to mostly writing on the paper and not on the table or the floor.
4. Coloring books
Another activity kids love to do is to color. Start them off with larger sized crayons that don’t easily break and be sure to check that they’re non-toxic. Let them color on bond paper, drawing books, sketch pads or coloring books, whichever they enjoy more. When it comes to coloring books, I’m not too strict with Ally on coloring inside the lines because I want her to just have fun with coloring. When we’re coloring with her, we show her how to color inside the lines but it’s fine if she can’t. It’s art, after all, not science.
You can let your child start with a blank piece of paper or choose watercolor painting sets for kids. There are several options available in most bookstores and toy stores. We let Ally use a paintbrush to make as little mess as possible but you can also let your child finger paint, if you wish. Again, check that the paint is specifically labeled as non-toxic.
6. Look through picture books & board books
Board books or cloth books are best for younger kids because they’re sturdier and less prone to damage from inquisitive fingers and teething mouths. Aside from making it a habit to read to your child daily, you should also let your child scan through the books by themselves. Buying books are a good educational investment and you don’t even need to get them brand new. Get them interested in reading at a young age and they’ll have less issues with schoolwork once they start studying.
7. Play make-believe
Give your child a bunch of safe to hold items and you’ll be surprised what she can do with them. Our daughter got hold of an empty cardboard roll and started using it as a telescope. She also received a toy drum set from her aunt and uncle and the drums now serve as pots and pans when she wants to “cook” or a as a three-layered cake. Take note, however, that the items you provide to your child should not be pointed, like pens, or choking hazards such as buttons or coins.
8. Play with a musical instrument
Children love making music once they figure out how to use an instrument. Figure out what kind of sounds she likes and let her choose. She can thump away on a toy drum, strum a small guitar or ukulele, play with a miniature keyboard, or even shake with enthusiasm a tambourine or a pair of maracas.
9. Learn from flash cards, alphabet and number charts
As soon as we could, we put up an alphabet chart and a number chart on one of our walls at home and made sure it was at her eye level. We pointed them out to her and let her repeat each letter and number, then eventually let her point to it and play on her own. This helped her quickly master the alphabet and numbers. Flashcards are also an interesting yet inexpensive way for kids to learn. Aside from letters and numbers, there are also shapes, colors and animals.
10. Create with clay
Clay is another art project you can let your child have fun with as long as she can be trusted not to put it in her mouth. Don’t forget to wash her hands every after she plays, though, even if they look clean. Also, don’t be surprised if the clay starts to harden and becomes less pliable after a while. This happens when it’s continually exposed to air.
11. Solve puzzles
Before she turned three, our daughter was already interested in puzzles. We guided her on how to solve them at first until she learned the technique and preferred solving them on her own with just occasional help from us. The puzzle should be age-appropriate so your child can easily solve it.