Anyone who is a parent of young kids knows how energetic children are when they're out of their toddler years and are looking for more independence. These youngsters are bursting with energy and want to make and do and be so many things at once.
As parents and caregivers, what can we do to channel that creative energy? How can we provide them with learning opportunities, help them find success and feel a sense of accomplishment? Here are some other ideas on no-cost activities for children of all ages.
One way to help children find an outlet for their creative energy is to help them do small crafts that are challenging, yet within their ability to make. Involving them in such crafts will challenge and stretch their minds, and help give them opportunities to be successful and develop self-esteem. An extra bonus from this comes when these young children have the opportunity to give their crafts to people they care about, like parents or grandparents. This gives them the chance to showcase their skills, gain praise and encouragement for their efforts and give children the satisfaction that they have provided something of use and beauty to someone else. I have seen my own children's self-esteem and sense of giving increase tremendously when provided with this opportunity.
How does your garden grow?
Another activity that young kids can participate in, is in helping with a garden or, if space does not permit, at least the nurturing of a plant. One year, my son's wonderful second grade teacher provided him with this invaluable opportunity when he brought home a small seedling of a pumpkin which he had started from a seed. We transplanted the seed into a space where it would have enough room to grow. Every day, my son would water it and check to see how much it had grown. His pride and sense of accomplishment came to fulfillment when, around fall time, the pumpkin plant had provided his family with several pumpkins for Halloween. My son harvested the seeds of these pumpkins, and descendants of his first pumpkin still grow in our little patch every year.
Caring for a pet
Providing a child with the opportunity to care for a pet is something else that a child between the ages of five and seven can participate in. Giving a child the chance to care for the family pet will, like caring for a plant, give the child valuable learning opportunities to become responsible and compassionate. One extra bonus that caring for a pet does for a child is that the child is awarded with friendship and gratitude from the pet, which is especially motivating, and gives the child immediate feedback that his or her service to the pet is appreciated.
One final activity that young children can be involved in, one which will benefit them all through their lives, is to help children develop an appreciation and enjoyment of healthy, appropriate exercise. Certainly young children won't be running marathons, but getting young children involved in fun, age-appropriate sports with other children will help them gain an understanding and appreciation for sports as well as develop social skills. Also, doing things as a family that involves healthy, physical activity will help young children learn that physical activity and exercise is fun and rewarding, and will help them develop lifelong healthy habits that will increase their quality of life.
Young children learning about life and how things work can thrive from being given opportunities to be successful. These suggested activities can provide that. Fashioning little crafts, caring for a plant or a cherished pet and developing habits of healthy physical activity can not only give children a sense of success and accomplishment, but help them develop good habits that will be with them their entire lives.