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7 Activities to Improve your Child’s Development

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7 Activities to Improve your Child’s Development

We all love to watch our children develop and grow. We love teaching them, playing with them, and simply observing how innocent minds process information. However, every parent wants to make sure that their children develop at a normal pace, so we do minor checkups concerning their intelligence, speaking skills, motor skills, etc. Since a child can’t tell if something isn’t right, parents are constantly on the lookout and they want to make sure that they have a healthy and intelligent kid.

Of course, there are various types of intelligence — linguistic, kinaesthetic, logical, spatial, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. These types of intelligence are in a state of equilibrium, so when someone lacks something, they usually makes up for in other aspects. So, you can have an eloquent kid who has an incredible singing talent, but who has difficulties with calculating.

However, this doesn’t mean that your kid is doomed to be a bad mathematician; it only means that math will require more hard work, and the same goes for any other skill your child naturally lacks. So, here are a few activities that will help your kid develop properly and that are really fun at the same time.

1. Lego blocks

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    Lego blocks have been around for generations, and children of all ages love to play with them. However, Legos are so much more than a mere toy, they can help develop some useful skills. For example, Lego blocks come with instructions, so kids can practice how to read and how to follow instructions.

    Another benefit is calculation, since you need a particular number of pieces to build something, therefore math is involved to some degree as well. Also, Legos are very good for promoting creativity and spatial intelligence. If possible, get your kids hooked on playing with Lego blocks!

    2. Minecraft

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      Minecraft is like a more complex and advanced version of Legos. It’s one of the most popular video games and people of all ages are very enthusiastic about it. In Minecraft, you can build, create, re-shape, and disassemble things. But, you also need to find resources, gather materials, and strategize how to increase your base.

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      Much like playing with Legos, Minecraft promotes the development of the same skills but on a more advanced level. Also, your kid is likely to continue playing the game as they grow older, exploring various other features the game has to offer. Minecraft can even help your kid master coding, which is an incredibly useful skill to have in the 21st century.

      3. Treasure Hunting

      This is a really fun parent-child activity, and it can also benefit your child to a great extent. Of course, it may take a lot of time for you to set it up, but the end result is certainly worth it. Basically, you buy something for your kid and hide it. In order for the object to be found, the child must solve a series of puzzles and riddles.

      Clearly, this is an activity that is a bit more advanced, but it incites critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Alternatively, you can play scavenger hunts if your child is a bit younger. You can do this at the supermarket or at home, and it is also really simple. Tell your kid to find all the objects that are round-shaped or that are purple in color, but make sure you provide an example of the item he or she should be looking for.

      Once you see everything your child has brought, you can see whether he or she recognizes shapes and objects regularly, and test his or her color perception.

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      4. Puzzles

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        Puzzles are awesome; all you need to remember is to gradually increase their difficulty. A kid can probably do any small box with 50-70 puzzle pieces on their own, but with larger ones, it’s good to help or to get a pair of children to work together. Puzzles are great for pattern and shape recognition, memory boosting, and for teaching collaboration. Additionally, you will end up with a beautiful picture that you can frame and hang on the wall afterwards.

        5. Coloring books

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          Coloring books are another plaything that kids love and that help their growth. They are great, especially for kids who can’t read yet. Coloring books help children develop their artistic side, and they also help them develop some useful motor skills that will come in handy when children are learning to write, because coloring books require a firm hand grip and precision. Moreover, coloring books are really soothing and relaxing, so it’s a good idea to allow your child to relax with one after a stressful activity.

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          6. Playing with marbles

          Marbles are like a miniature version of a pool table, since a child needs precision and visualization in order to be successful at it. It’s a bit of an old-fashioned game, but people who were kids during the 80s and 90s are very familiar with the concept. You need to launch a small marble from your hand and hit the other marble strong enough to expel it from the circle.

          7. Reading and singing

          It’s good to have some books for kids that you can read with your children and teach them how to read as well. It’s a skill they will definitely need, and you can start as soon as they are 4 years old. The problem is that not all kids find reading interesting, but with a colorful book, it might just work. You can also make some flashcards with pictures before you move on to the texts. You can also teach your kids some songs and invite them to sing together. This way, you test memory, acoustic intelligence, and word recognition.

          Remember, the most important skills are also known as the four C’s of the 21st century: creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. All of the activities mentioned here will influence those skills, so try to implement them during your child’s development.

          Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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          Last Updated on October 7, 2021

          Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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          Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

          In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

          Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

          There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

          Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

          Let’s get started, shall we?

          Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

          Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

          1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

          When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

          Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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          “Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

          2. Teaches the Value of Family

          Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

          According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

          3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

          Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

          “Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

          For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

          4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

          How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

          “If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

          5. Creates a Safe Environment

          If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

          Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

          6. Reduces Stress

          This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

          According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

          So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

          How to Make Family Time Happen

          Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

          1. Family Dinners

          This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

          Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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          “Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

          According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

          As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

          2.  Regular Movie Nights

          This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

          Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

          3. Game Night

          This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

          In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

          So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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          4. Sharing a Hobby

          If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

          Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

          Final Thoughts

          Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

          Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

          The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

          Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

          Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
          [2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
          [3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
          [4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
          [5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
          [6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
          [7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
          [8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
          [9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
          [10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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