Looking for ways to keep your kids busy and productive at home?
Students should be encouraged to use their time there to explore, create, invent, investigate, imagine, and learn new things while they are not in school. Many schools are adopting virtual teaching that will mean continued assignments to do at home. Students should, of course, complete homework before doing other activities. Homework surely develops and extends skills and responsibility. And while home from school, children can learn practical life skills, too, like how to ride a bike, make a bed, do the laundry, or bake a cake. They can also learn how to think creatively. By fostering creative thinking, children learn how to solve problems, a skill that serves them far beyond childhood.
Here are a few tips to foster creativity and problem solving:
- If your child asks for homework help or advice regarding in a situation with a friend, don’t provide an instant answer. Instead, ask your student to show you or tell you the steps he/she would use to solve the problem. Give positive feedback on all ideas. “I like what you are thinking; tell me more.” Or “I think your idea has merit; can you explain it in other words?” or “Explain where you get stumped in the homework.”
- Find time to really be with your child – no cell phone, no electronics; a little time goes a long way. Let your child suggest an activity; be the participant/follower.
- Ask your kids open-ended questions:. “If you could give a gift to every child in the world, what would it be?” or “ How would you solve X problem?” “Which candidate do you prefer; why?” This lets children know that you respect their ideas.
- Always praise your child’s effort, not the results. “I’m proud of how you sat down and studied for the test.”
In addition to formal learning through school assignments, kids can acquire new ideas and skills from hands-on learning experiences shared with peers, parents, grandparents, and neighbors. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Watch a video with your child on how to hang a picture or cook a new dish for dinner. Then, do it together. This requires organization, measurements, and a degree of precision.
- Have your child take on an important responsibility, like creating the family before you start the task.menu for a day or a week. Discuss the process and the materials needed
- If you have teens, turn cooking or baking over to them for a specific day or meal. They’ll do the requisite research, budgeting, math and measurement, organization skills that may take into account family members who have specific dietary requirements or allergies.
- Create a home science kit and do experiments at home; keep a science journal.
- Kids can start a business or volunteer, like babysitting, dog walking, pet care, tutoring or taking out trash.
- Do you have an actor, actress, singer, dancer, songwriter, or screenwriter at home? Write a song, skit or play. Act, sing, dance or direct the production on video. Don’t forget behind-the-scenes crew functions: costume designer, makeup, and stage crew.
- Create a puppet show. Assemble the theater, make the puppets, write an original script; make all of the instructions available online for other kids. Have someone record the live broadcast; make that available online.
- Create your own arcade games out of recycled materials like, cans, boxes, cardboard rolls, etc.
- Organize family photos into an album or yearbook; publish online, or in a book.
- Learn to needlepoint, bead, knit, crochet, or sew. Create something using the new skill.
- Write a book and publish it on Amazon.
- Play a board game with other family members.
- Make a project box that you fill with objects like scissors, glue, staplers, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, buttons, markers, paint, paintbrushes, glitter, crayons, ribbons, stickers, colored paper, plain paper, and poster board.
- Research plants and veggies that are native to your area and will grow easily in your climate. Sketch out the garden for your yard or container gardening. This will require some math, science, and patience. Plant the crops and tend the garden. Take pics and create an online or physical guide to planting a garden.
- Search online for an academic contest that you can enter and win.
- Practice your instrument and hold a neighborhood concert.
- Play a classic game with the whole family: Clue, Monopoly, Game of Life
- Learn to play thinking games like, Mahjong, Hearts, Bridge or Canasta.
- Play Heads Up: players hold the phone up to their foreheads and guess words in categories based on clues from teammates.
- Take out the blocks and build; play with Magnatiles or Zoobies, STEM building activities.
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When you look back on this time after the crisis has passed, what will you be able to say about what you and your children learned? Please share pictures and your hands-on learning ideas in the comments section beneath our blog.