As schools are closed, and kids and parents are stuck at home, it can be hard to maintain structure that will keep your child occupied while still learning new concepts. The Boh Center of Child Development at Ochsner Hospital for Children is here to help by providing daily activities that are engaging, educational and promote your child’s development. Check in weekly to try each new activity that your kid will love – in fact, they won’t even realize they are learning!
The first activity is a general activity to do at home that will help you get through the next month. You want to create an “enriched environment” for your children. Research indicates that an enriched environment supports the development of communication skills, social skills, cognitive skills and motor skills. How do you create an enriched environment?
Change up the environment of your house every few days. Change where the toys are placed, change where furniture is placed, add some tunnels in the hallway that your child must crawl through, and place things just out of reach. Create an environment that encourages children to adapt their behavior, expand their exploration skills and requires them to request things.
Develop a designated play area in the home that has blocks, dolls, figurines, costumes, items for pretend play and items to create with. Items that foster pretend play are transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture, dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets and sand and water play toys. Pretend play promotes learning, memory and expression of feelings.
Studies show that children who engage in make-believe play have increased cognitive development, language usage and creativity. Acting out stories that involve multiple perspectives and characters’ feelings help them understand complex social situations from a young age.
Have your little one build a make-believe world such as a fairytale land or old Western town out of boxes, blocks or other household items. Then, put on your best costume and take direction from them to help act out different characters
Once your child wakes up, allow your child to step outside and check out the weather. If it is warm, what kind of clothes should they pick out? If it is a bit chilly, what kind of clothes should they wear that they can layer to take off as it heats up during the day?
This activity will teach kids cause and effect, as well as help with independence in dressing themselves in the morning. Reward them for picking out a great outfit with a treat they love.
If you want to work on concepts and colors, conduct a matching activity. Color three circles on a sheet of paper. Start with green, red and blue. As your child advances or if they are a little bit older, add more colors to the activity. Have your child find objects around the house that are also those three colors. Show your child how to sort the objects into the three color groups.
You can make this activity into a competition by setting a timer and having your child gather and sort as many items as they can in the allotted time.
Music is a great way to teach music skills, creativity and inhibitory control. Inhibition is the ability to stop doing whatever they are doing in response to a stimulus. This activity helps with self-control and following directions.
To work on these skills, have a dance party and periodically stop the music. When the music stops, they must freeze in whatever silly position they are in.
Other ways to teach inhibitory skills are classic games like “red light, green light” and “Simon says!”
The information in this blog post is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it's possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our blog posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.