To engage your child’s mind, occupy their hands. Most children learn more effectively when they participate in activities, rather than just listening to lectures.
While this has been true for years, it may be even more important today, given the hours children spend sitting passively in front of computers and television screens. Take a look at what you can do as a parent to activate your child’s brain with hands-on activities.
Adapting to Your Child’s Learning Style
Tactile and kinetic learning styles involve touching and movement. These approaches are often ideal for small children because visual and spatial skills start developing earlier than language skills.
1. Schedule breaks. Small children usually have fairly short attention spans. Rotating between different projects or taking frequent, 5-minute breaks every half hour will make your interactions more pleasant.
2. Take turns teaching. Let your child teach you occasionally. They’ll benefit from practicing their leadership skills and clarifying their own thinking as they try to give instructions.
3. Ask questions. Similarly, ask your child to explain what they’re doing and the reasoning behind their choices. As they talk about their actions, they’ll make more mental connections and strengthen their powers of communication.
4. Introduce props. Mundane tasks become more fun when you use flashcards, graphs, puzzles, and posters. Stack blocks or count clothespins.
5. Go on a field trip. Travel adds an extra dimension. Give your child personal assignments when you go grocery shopping or take family vacations.
6. Stand up. Even when you’re staying at home, you can spend more time on your feet. Children may feel more alert standing up or balancing on an exercise ball instead of a regular chair. Walk around while you talk about multiplication tables or verbs.
7. Observe closely. Pay attention to your child’s interests and strengths. That information will help you to design activities they enjoy.
8. Cool down. Participatory learning can be very stimulating. Leave time to settle down before dinner or bed.
Examples of Hands-On Activities for Children
There are many ways to encourage your child to move around and use all their senses. Creative play is an opportunity to learn by doing.
1. Play music. Maybe your child starts dancing and singing as soon as they hear their favorite songs. Background music can also help concentration, while having instruments around the house may inspire your child to start making their own soundtrack.
2. Stage a performance. Dress up in costumes or put on a play to act out history lessons or social dilemmas. Build a puppet theater out of a cardboard box.
3. Do arts and crafts. Crafts allow children to express their creativity while they develop their motor skills. Assemble collages out of magazine pictures and art books. Glue popsicle sticks together to make a wagon or jewelry box.
4. Conduct science experiments. You can play scientist in your kitchen or any room of your house. Amaze your kids by dropping an egg without breaking it. Look up instructions for how to do this classic “trick” online, and then share the secret so your kids can impress their friends.
5. Take notes. Taking good notes is a valuable habit your kids can continue to use at school or in the workplace. For now, it will help them to focus their attention and remember what they’ve learned. Encourage them to carry around a notebook and pencil, or store their notes on their computer.
Your child will remember the things they do more vividly than the things they just hear or see. Help your sons and daughters to become excited about learning by engaging their hands and minds.