Brain and Body: Engaging Indoor Activities for Kids

 

As the weather prepares to switch gears, playing outside will become less and less of an option for kids when it comes to playtime. Keeping kids entertained indoors can be difficult, especially when they are more likely to reach for a mobile device to play a game or ask to watch TV or a movie. Parents can encourage kids to read, write, or be creative, but many of these activities are sedentary. While they may be enriching in other ways, kids still need to find ways to be active even when the weather doesn’t allow it. Here are some engaging indoor activities that get kids moving and keep them entertained.

Mastering Math and the Obstacle Course

Obstacle courses are always fun. They’re mainstays at themed birthday venues and they’re every kids favorite unit in gym class. You can create your own at-home obstacle course using string and household furniture. But to make it more engaging, you can also use – playing cards! Using playing cards or index cards with numbers or functions like plus signs and subtraction signs, will challenge kids to complete certain equations or create a path through the obstacle course that allow them to collect the cards they need to solve the problem. Kids can pretend they are super spies or secret hackers looking for the right code to unlock the secret at the end of the course, or at least earn themselves a snack.

Going Wild

Animal books are great gateways to learning and reading. Animals are diverse and many children like looking at the pictures or learning about where animals live, what they eat etc. You can learn all about animals, whether it be via a book or the internet, but you can also incorporate some stretching into the mix – challenge kids to mimic the animals they’re learning about. Stretching can help muscles but getting into these animal poses can also require some creativity and brain power as well. According to Integrated Learning Strategies Learning Corner, animal poses like a horse trot, worm crawl, or the crab walk, can be great for executive functioning within the brain, regulating emotions, and practicing gross and fine motor skills. Plus, they’re just fun to do!

 

Balloon Ping Pong

Ping-pong indoors can be dangerous, but not if you change up your game equipment. Swap out a ping-pong for a balloon and your ping-pong paddle for a paper plate attached to a popsicle stick. There are plenty of other games that can be made indoor-safe as long as you trade in the traditional tools, especially hard balls that could potentially break household items or hurt others, for soft, plush things instead like pillows, poufs, balloons and other materials. These may be simple, but sports-related activities get kids up and moving but they also help them hone their hand-eye coordination skills, build better interpersonal relationships, and encourage good sportsmanship.

Kids, Parents and Social Media

Social media can be a touchy topic these days, but it is also inescapable. Many people use social media primarily for keeping in touch. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram can allow friends and families, especially those that live over great distances, stay in close communication despite living in different parts of the country or the world. Being able to share family photos or more immediate, everyday moments can make it feel like you are a part of your loved ones’ lives despite whatever physical distances separate you, but there are plenty of downsides to social media as well.

Social media can be an addiction for many people, and it can also cause depression and feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth. Many posts on social media are curated to a degree and only highlight positive parts of a person’s life. False ideas about the quality of others’ lives has proven to be detrimental to people of all ages, but young teens most of all.

While parents of children who are younger and may not be old enough to have social media accounts of their own yet, it is still important that parents are aware of their own activities on social media. Parents often share photos and funny stories about their children and others in their family, but it is vital that parents are mindful of what they post. While certain topics or themes may simply be inappropriate for social platforms, it is also important that parents are aware of the impact that their own posts on social media may have on their children when they are older.

Before making a post, think about how it will impact your child in the present and in the future. Some issues may be simple and involve asking yourself a quick question such as “Will this funny photo be worth posting in the long run? Will the likes and laughs outweigh my child’s potential embarrassment that this exists on the internet?” to more serious concerns about sharing too much information regarding not only your children but your friends and family that could be used by people looking to harm them.

It helps to be well-versed in general internet safety. Never overshare. Never reveal personal information or contact info. Be aware of what information these social media sites may share with others and how accessible your profiles are. It helps to comb through your social media accounts and review your security settings. Consider setting your profile to private, sharing information only with those you know and trust. Cut back on social media usage and screen every post or picture you consider putting up on the internet. There are many guidelines available regarding internet safety and knowhow, and for parents with older kids and teens who have their own social media accounts, it helps to share this information with them as well.

Parents need to be just as mindful as their kids when it comes to social media. Stay informed and learn about the security ins and outs of the platforms you use. Being self-aware, mindful, and considerate can help make your experience on the internet much safer and fulfilling while also protecting your children.

Big Kid Milestones to Celebrate

When it comes to milestones for children, many parents focus on things like first steps or first words. These are great accomplishments and are certainly worth celebrating, but there are other milestones that are also worth a huzzah. As children get older, they become more complex and independent individuals. Recognizing the steps they take towards becoming their own people are just as worthy of celebration as their first day of school. Not everything needs cake and a party, but letting your kids know that their growth is acknowledged in a special way can be incredibly beneficial to their personal growth.

Joining a Club or Sport

When your child engages in an activity, they are not only building a skill but they are also flexing their teamwork muscles, too. Whether they have joined a soccer league, the girl scouts, decided to participate in an after-school program for art and crafts or even decided to enter the science fair, it is a sign that your child is interested in learning more about their own interests, and exploring what opportunities for growth and friendship these activities might give them. Kids may not realize the weight of what they are doing, but even deciding to take up a sport or hobby simply because it looks fun is a big step towards making their own decisions and being their own person.

Stepping Up to the Self-Care Plate

When kids are younger, they need help getting dressed, brushing their teeth or getting a glass of water. There are many of these micro-activities that kids need guidance with when they are younger, but it should be noticed when they begin to do these things all by themselves. It not only shows initiative but it also shows that they are growing into their responsibilities as a person, too. These activities can become more meaningful as your kids age, and to them it may not seem like a big deal but many parents would jump for joy if they saw their child pour their own milk and cereal for breakfast or take it upon themselves to clean their room.

Reading A Chapter Book

Reading can be difficult, and depending on where your child fits on the reading spectrum different milestones may come with different feats. Kids who have difficulty reading or are slow learners, reading a chapter book on their own is a big deal. Plus, the confidence boost that comes with this milestone may help encourage them to practice and keep reading.

For kids who are natural readers and enjoy the activity, reading full chapter books may not be all that unusual, but trying something above their skill level or out of their comfort zone should be applauded, too.

Riding a Bike

This is a classic, but it is a tradition that every parent should celebrate with their child. Whether your child is testing out their first training wheels or finally ready to take theirs off, learning to ride a bike is a big deal and it helps encourage kids to stay active.

Showing Some Sympathy

Sometimes parents need to coax their children into looking at situations a certain way and guide their behaviors to a certain degree. For instance, if you have multiple kids and they get into a fight, it may be your job as parent to be the mediator. But if you see your child apologizing, offering sympathy, or simply being nice to their sibling or someone else without needing any prompt to do so, it should certainly be celebrated. This is an expression of emotional growth that should be encouraged and can help kids grow into more understanding and empathetic people.