Parent's as Teachers
Happy National Parent’s as Teachers Day-Nov. 8th
Let us recite the title of this day in our minds a few times until it sinks in. Parent’s as Teachers, Parent’s as Teachers. This is an important piece of information to remember because you are your child’s FIRST teacher. YOU the PARENT are the one to foster a love of learning, exploration, creativity, drive for knowledge, and curiosity. YOU the PARENT are modeling each and every day to think, question, and examine. If you provide enriching opportunities for your child in their everyday life, this will help developing minds build the necessary foundation for a life of learning. Providing play activity opportunities for your children is easier than you may think. It does not require a lot. It does not cost anything. Give your child natural elements, fresh air, love, and a respectful relationship with YOU the PARENT. Teachable moments and play activities are all abundant!
Here are 15 super simple play activity ideas to shine as a teacher for your child:
Relax! It’s simple!
Take your kids outside: a walk around the block, play in the backyard, watch the garbage truck or local construction sites. There are endless ideas for your child to be amazed outside. All you need to do is simply step outside with them and let your child guide the way. What your teaching you’re child: That there is wonder all around us. Conversations sparked will help with cognition and language development. Sequence of events can often be touched upon if you talk about the order of how something has come to be.
Play in dirt: dry or wet, it’s fabulous. Add buckets, sticks, leaves, and rocks and allow your little one to squish, mix, pound and stir. This is messy sensory play, but kids usually stay interested and engaged for so long that it’s worth it! What your teaching you’re child: it’s OK to get messy. Sometimes you just have to play in the dirt. This helps develop creativity, fine motor, and sensory exposure.
Play with bugs: Bugs are fascinating to watch. Ants & beetles are the most prevalent in our yard, with the occasional magical lady bug. Add a clear plastic container and a magnifying glass and watching bugs quickly becomes more entertaining than TV! What you’re teaching your child: Science and biology. Observation and patience.
Collect leaves, snails, sticks, rocks: Kids love hunting and collecting treasures. A while ago my daughter and I made her own personal rock garden. We leave it right outside the front door and it stores all her beloved findings. What you’re teaching your child: To have a love and respect of nature. To treasure it and be fascinated by its beauty. Explanation of earth sciences.
Build a pillow fort: Take all of the pillows off the couch (really, you could just stop here if you wish. This provides a great jumping base and climbing obstacles for mobile babies and young toddlers). Begin to build a structure off of the furniture in your living room (chairs, ottoman, coffee table, couch). Add a sheet or blanket on top, and you have just impressed the hell out of your kids! This provides the perfect hideout, or reading nook. Kids will be engaged in this activity forever. It will keep evolving, so go with it. What you’re teaching your child: Engineering of a structure (how can the pillows stay up? what will we need to keep it from breaking?), thinking, planning, patience, and mastery.
Make shadow puppets: Go into a bedroom, turn out the lights and use a flashlight, a cell phone light, or a nightlight to shine a flat surface (a closet door or open wall space works wonderfully). Put your hand in front of the light and add a fun voice. Your little one will be amazed and want to try it right away. What you’re teaching your child: Explain the science behind shadows, what they are and how they are made. Cognition & creativity in making their own show.
Go for a night walk and gaze up at the stars: Walking at night adds a whole new and exciting element to being outside. It’s completely different visually as well as auditory. What you’re teaching your child: Astronomy! Talk about the moon, stars, our planet & other planets in our galaxy. What the sun is made up of. How the sun is a star. Where the sun is hiding at night.
Tickle & laugh: Have some rough an tumble fun. Roll around. Tickle. Let them climb on you and roll over them, too. What you’re teaching your child: Have a sense of humor, and not to take things so serious. Let go and be silly. It also helps with large motor skills and physical feedback.
Play hide-n-seek & Chase: I have such fond memories of playing hide n seek and chase as a child. They have to use tactic when maneuvering their body not be tagged as well as thinking of new and creative places to hide. What you’re teaching your child: Large motor developing as well as problem solving.
Cook or Bake: Kids loving helping in the kitchen. They love helping with real chores around the house and they can be useful. Give them small tasks at first (stirring, pouring, shaking), when they get a bit older they can cut (start off with a plastic knife, they are sharp enough to cut many fruits and veggies and safer to use), they can assemble, and they can stir items on the stove. What you’re teaching your child: They learn sequence of events, mathematics, and patience.
Make some art: This is a huge statement, because there are so many variations of art work. Some of my favorites in this house is to paint items in nature; rocks, sticks, leaves etc. We also love reusing objects and giving them a new artistic life; ceramic decorations, old toys, picture frames etc. What you’re teaching your child: Creativity and thinking outside the box.
Read a book: Go to the library and make it an event. Listen to local story times or rent new and exciting stories. Around 4 years old is a good age to introduce beginning chapter books. What you’re teaching your child: Language development.
Build something: Use legos, blocks, magnet tiles, small boxes, left over food containers; really anything that can stack. What you’re teaching your child: Cognitive development by having your child use forethought and concentration. How can we make it sturdy? How will it not fall?
Box play: art canvas, robot, play house: Boxes are so versatile! The small ones can be set on top of a table for coloring and painting, or gluing items onto. Larger boxes can be used to set inside for art, as well as numerous other projects. A larger box can become a rocket ship, a car, a train, or a plane. Just a little bit of imagination goes a long way. When I was a child, my neighbors and I used to love to create box houses with multiple boxes connected together. What you’re teaching your child: cognitive development of constructing, forethought, and concentration.
Scavenger Hunt: You can print out a free list online, or you can create your own based on items frequently seen in and around your neighborhood; birds, squirrels, grass, dandelions, certain color house doors, certain color cars etc. What you’re teaching your child: A love of earth sciences and nature. Setting goals and accomplishing those goals and seeing it through.
Opportunities of play activities and teachable moments are ALL AROUND US! You don’t need expensive things. You don’t need to be crafty. All you need to do is be THERE for your child. Be PRESENT. Ask QUESTIONS. Most importantly, have FUN & PLAY.