Research and anecdotal evidence shows us that more and more grandparents are stepping up to assist with child rearing than ever before. Rising living costs often necessitate a two-income household and the cost of childcare (despite its valuable contribution to a child’s learning and development) can sometimes negate the majority of that second income. This is where grandparents are often stepping in – to help cover childcare without the cost.
As all parents know, keeping kids occupied can be a tough ask. So what sort of activities for kids should grandparents instigate to keep them occupied and interested as well as assisting with their physical and mental development?
- Heading outside to play is always great. Physical activities such as running, jumping, skipping and playing on monkey bars, swings, slides and climbing frames in the fresh air and sunshine are all contributing to physical skills such as coordination and strength as well as building a child’s confidence in their own abilities.
- While still outside, there are endless things to observe and discuss in the natural world, creating hours of fun and learning. Activities as simple as watching clouds float by and sharing ideas of what shape they are making; listening to sounds and guessing what is making them; watching snails, lizards and bees go about their business. All of these invite discussion; building knowledge and understanding of their own senses (seeing, listening, touching) and the natural world.
- Helping in the garden with activities such as weeding, planting and watering contributes to exploration, experimentation and learning. Helping in a vegetable or flower garden where children can see results of their efforts is always rewarding and the planning stages – discussing what to plant and what might be needed to help your plants to grow – enhances a child’s fine motor and literacy skills through creating illustrations of things such as water, sun, seeds, pots.
- When inside, quiet, self-contained activities like colouring, working with puzzles or moulding ‘Playdough’ provides children with positive ways to work through emotions themselves using calm physical activity. As children master and refine their motor skills, they see themselves as more competent and capable; gaining self-confidence and self-esteem in part through their successful physical activities. Shapeeze fine motor fun has been developed for precisely this type of activity.
- Happily, suggesting activities is not always needed. Being ‘bored’ and having the time to daydream is also beneficial – for kids and adults alike. Daydreaming is the sign of a very active brain as the front and back of the brain communicate (which doesn’t normally happen) as well as developing empathy and creativity and improving memory and mood.
If you’re a grandparent looking after your grandchild, give yourself a pat on the back. Not only do these activities help your grandchild develop physically and mentally, they also contribute to building healthy relationship with others. You provide those relationship-building skills each and every time you engage with them and it’s tremendously valuable.
What sort of activities do you do with your grandkids? We’d love to hear them, so please share in the comments.
You are encouraged to share this post with your network via your preferred platform or to reprint the content without changes. If you wish to reprint, please include this information – “Shared with permission of Simone Crighton, Shapeeze Creator www.shapeeze.com.au”