Keep children occupied

Keep children occupied with 5 key activities

Leave it up to children to run things and you may have yourself a big mess. Shower them with technology to keep them busy and you just might create a monster. Give loads of school work to keep children occupied and they may become resentful. So, what are parents to do? Children, even teenagers, need guidance, supervision and a full schedule to live by in order to be well-rounded individuals. Here are 5 crucial activities to cover daily to ensure your children get the quality life they deserve.

1. Educational: Learn something new

At school, children spend at least 4 hours a day in a classroom setting learning something new. This routine should continue when children are away from school because they need cognitive development. Keep children occupied with comprehension passages and mathematical problems. These exercises involve reading, understanding and expressing what you have learned. Learning new words, spellings, synonyms, antonyms and usage in sentences will also keep children occupied and their brains active.

2. Physical: Get exercise

The complaints about children becoming lazy couch potatoes are endless. Parents have become reliant on outdoor activities to see children run, skip, jump and swim. There are also indoor activities for children to do for 1 hour each day to make sure they get exercise. For those children who are reluctant to take part, give a speech about the benefits of exercise.

Clear a space, take off the television, put on some lively music and announce it is dancing time. Encourage children to move their arms, legs, heads and necks. You may also try choreographing an exercise class with your children. Ask them to jog on the spot, do jumping jacks, push-ups, sit ups and squats. Another activity that will keep children occupied is yoga. You may start with the sun salutation to get a nice stretch and then try some of these exercises for kids.

3. Fun: Play a game, chat with friends, plant

Playing is the easiest part of children’s day. This activity should be given the same 4 hours as learning something new. The two types of play time should be encouraged, the one with family and the one alone. Play time with family is very important for a child’s development. You may conduct a scavenger hunt, play a board game like Pictionary or Scrabble, make crafts or plant in a garden. This allows family members to bond and strengthens relationships.

Play time alone is when children should be free to do whatever pleases them that is approved by you. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.” Keep children occupied by letting them play video games, watch television and connect with friends on social media. Your job should be to cut them off when the time is up.

4. Inspirational: Appreciate life

Appreciating life has become a neglected activity in many homes due to the hustle and bustle of demanding lifestyles. Children deal with busy parents, schoolwork, homework, friends, keeping up appearances on social media and trying to achieve goals. When do they stop to realise that none of that matters without family, care, love or life?

Children need to be reminded of the importance of the little things in life for at least 2 hours each day. Have a conversation with your child by asking questions like, “If you were the last person on Earth and stuck with ______ what would you do?” You can replace the blank space with the name of a friend, food, celebrity or pet. The idea is to stimulate thought about the importance of survival versus fun.

If you are religious, use this time to discuss inspirational readings with your children. Make sure to educate yourself about the debate on Creation versus Evolution. They may have more questions than you expect about their existence. Children nowadays have information at their fingertips and you do not want to be unprepared.

5. Personal – reflect on the day

At the end of each day, encourage your child to do some personal reflection. This is very important to a child’s development. By thinking about what you did for the day, it promotes appreciation for yourself which improves self esteem. When a child thinks about what others have done for him or her for the day, it helps relationships to grow. Reflecting on what was learnt for the day makes a child proud and inspires him or her to want to learn more. Let your child set short-term goals and reflect on accomplishing them. Reflections can be done in the form of journaling, drawing, story writing, crafts or simply talking.

April 2020

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