May 01, 2022 4 min read
Whether it's spring break, summer break, or just another weekend, children have lots of free time for recreation. This is essential for their physical and emotional development. However, in recent years, school-age kids have been spending more and more of their free time glued to electronic gadgets instead of actually moving their bodies and minds.
How do you encourage your children to get off the screen and play in the real world? Read on for fun, boredom-busting activities to teach them (or do with them), and why this is important.
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It's now so common to see children hunched over a smartphone or tablet, growing impatient over a mobile game or getting cranky when you interrupt the show they're watching.
While some electronic games and media can promote brain activity for our little ones, too much time spent on screens can be detrimental to their development. Many studies and experts have pointed this out. For instance, the Mayo Clinic shares that too much screen time is linked to:
Meanwhile, science recognizes that active, independent play is important in cultivating a child's creativity, autonomy, empathy, and physical wellness.
It's not new advice to say that we need to get our children to play off-screen. However, author Richard Louv has a valuable addition: "Parents can sometimes push too hard. Nature time should never be seen by kids as a punishment for, say, spending too much time in the electronic world."
In other words, we want to show our kids that real-world play is by itself fun and engaging. We can show by example, such as by doing these activities ourselves. Or we can give the young ones gentle prompts such as by providing age-appropriate tools and resources.
Take your little tykes on an outdoor walk and challenge them to collect something specific, like pretty leaves or special rocks. Alternatively, you can let them roam your backyard with less control from you. Just make sure they're within your sight.
Let your child's imagination run free by surrounding them with kid-friendly art supplies. We're talking not just crayons and pencils but also play-dough, fabric scraps, flowers, paper mache, yarn, buttons, beads, and more! Then give your child a little nudge by showing them examples, such as from an arts-and-crafts book.
Every child should experience the magical play-pretend tradition of building a fort! It gets their imagination running and gets their bodies moving! On a lazy afternoon, ask your little one if they want to build a castle -- then go ahead and make one out of chairs and pillows!
Think of some super-easy snacks that you can teach your kids to make. Maybe some no-bake pastries, build-your-own tacos, or even a basic pizza (just reserve the oven work for the grownups). Even better if you can make the food look fun, like the cute egg sailboats above by party blogger Sherri Foxman.
Do a weekly dance party where you teach your kids one different dance each time. Go from classic dances like the waltz and cha-cha, to old hits like the macarena, to fun modern favorites like Zumba!
Announce that you're doing a bedroom makeover, and let them make their own decor! It could be a poster that they drew, a hanging mobile of paper planes, or a huge mural on their wall. Not only does this allow them to be creative, it also encourages them to care for their room better since they decorated it.
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Cultivate your child's love for nature by having them plant an easy-to-grow herb or flower, then give it a name. Maybe it's a potted mint named Mindy or a pair of sunflower plants named Mr. & Mrs. Brightside. 😊 Don't forget to remind your little one to water the plant regularly!
Stargazing has dual benefits for children: one, it stimulates their creative imagination and sense of wonder, and two, it's a gateway into appreciating astronomy and related sciences. Get an inexpensive telescope and stargazing kit, identify some constellations, and try to catch some meteor showers!
Belting your heart out is cathartic for kids and grownups! Prepare a child-friendly karaoke playlist with songs such as Disney's "Let It Go," Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off," and of course, the smash hit "Baby Shark." Who knows, you just might discover your child's singing talent. (And if not, that's okay, too!)
Gather the family 'round for a weekly Family Game Night! Play timeless parlor games like charades and musical statues (freeze-dance). Or pull out those board games for a fun evening of Monopoly, Jenga, or Scrabble.
We hope these kiddie ideas boost your children's off-screen playtime! What other games and activities would you recommend? Leave a comment!
Do you like the family-friendly home decor featured here? We have many more on GearDen.com, from personalized wall signs to cozy blankets and pillows. Browse now!
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