By the end of the week, most of us parents feel like we've lost our minds. And while I'm not proud to admit that I love giving my kids distractions, if it means my child is not screaming or crying while I'm in the bread aisle at Publix, I'll pretty much give her anything to keep the peace.
Thankfully, not all distractions have to be bad. In fact, most of them can be fun and even educational. In school, the most fun and exciting projects are always the ones you remember the most.
When I was in eighth grade, I had a teacher who loved to come up with science activities for us to learn physics concepts, like gravity, velocity, and force. One of the best experiences we had was traveling to Busch Gardens in Orlando, as a way for us to study rollercoasters and how they related to physics. And while I may not be a scientist now, I aced that class easily, because the concepts were fun and easy to remember.
Let’s take that same concept and apply it to our children’s learning and education. Fun activities can help take the pressure off in school situations. In a time when stress is at an all-time high for young kids, it’s time we take playtime seriously.
Solutions for Fun, Educational Activities
The good news is that fun games, arts and crafts, and other activities can help children develop important skills they will need in the future.
In a recently published article, faculty members in universities across the United States and Great Britain found that surgeons are seeing more incoming students without the same level of fine motor skills as previous classes. With potentially avoidable complications from surgeries (as high as 50%), these universities are starting to consider fine motor skills as part of the application process for medical school.
This suggests that childhood physical activities, arts and crafts, and learning games - not just video games and tablets - are important in the development of both physical and mental capabilities.
Regular physical activity can help kids focus better in school, which is why number one on the list for fun learning activities is: physical fitness.
Among the top choices for physical activities are:
- Martial Arts
Team sports, like soccer, basketball, and baseball, are a fun way for kids to develop math skills, hand-eye coordination, and teamwork, while individual physical activities like tennis, martial arts, and dance can teach a child critical thinking, self-discipline, and character.
One of my favorite TED talks is about a young dancer whose parents thought she had educational challenges, but in reality, she really needed to get up and get moving. Why, you ask?
I especially identified with this video because my little sister struggled in school before she found dance. In fact, while she was in an arts program, her grades were never better! And today, she is a professional dancer in New York.
Whatever physical activity excites your child, let them give it a try! To get excited about dance, try a subscription to My Ballet Box. From child to adult, this program keeps young dancers excited and engaged in the dance world.
As a bookworm, never in a million years would I think I'd love hiking, but after attending summer camp when I was 10, I got hooked. I love hiking, and your child might, too! To get them excited, consider a subscription to Think Outside Boxes for a monthly curriculum on outdoor skills (plus a ton of fun gear).
Arts and Crafts
Coloring in the lines is an accomplishment all parents remember from early childhood days. Even adults love to color (see: adult coloring books).
In fact, coloring is a wonderful resource for learning. It teaches colors, fine motor skills, and relaxes the body, easing tension and anxiety. It's also a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your child or to teach them independence and being comfortable alone.
Here are just some of the things arts and crafts can help kids learn:
As it turns out, those turkey finger-paintings and printables did a lot more than make our parents proud. It also supported our learning and development by visually stimulating our minds and "forcing" us to get up and be active (remember scavenger hunts, weren't they so fun?!).
To recreate that same level of excitement and learning fun, here are a few fun resources to give a try:
Perfect for preschoolers, The Preschool Box combines all the fun of DIY, coloring, crafts, alphabet activities, and shapes to help toddlers learn spelling and reading. 3-year-olds are sure to love this fun little box of goodies (especially the pompoms)!
Playing around with fun activities is a great way for young children to participate and learn from science experiments.
Green Kid Crafts is a subscription box that proudly focuses on STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics for kids. For ages 2-10 and up, kids will use everything from play dough to paint to paper plates and more for stimulating the mind and learning a wide array of STEAM activities.
With so much history in the world, let your child use those car rides and other "boring" activities for times to learn about influential figures. Wonder Crate is a fantastic tool to help keep your little one inspired by the generations of young scholars and achievers before them.
Games can help kids learn analytical skills, fine motor skills, social skills, and problem-solving. While board games are still popular and fun, we've come a long way in the 21st century, even now including coding into our children's education system. These coding games have quickly become a fun learning solution for this new generation.
Some other fun kids' games with educational benefits include:
While habitual toy-buying can be a real issue for parents, toys and games also play a vital role in developing both the imagination and problem-solving (along other skills). Try to adopt games and playtime into your everyday routine -- from childhood up to adulthood -- to keep your child's mind flexible and adaptable.
Like the Game of Life, career-based games can be fun to introduce to your child. For example, coding games, now played in schools, help students learn critical thought processes and patterns useful in many areas.
Another resource is Club SciKidz Labs, a science subscription box that helps kids learn a variety of career-based skills, such as veterinary medicine, robotics, astronomy, geology, paleontology, oceanography, and more.
Whether your kid is just beginning to dream big about what they want to be when they grow up, or they just need a fun, new game on a monthly basis, this is a fantastic option for young kids.
Merging the Old and New
Since it would be silly to completely discount the value of technology, it goes without saying that being both plugged and unplugged has its benefits. That's why we recommend the best of both worlds with Together Unplugged, a subscription box that provides awesome, uncommon games perfect for family bonding time. With a wide variety of puzzles, Mad Libs-style quizzes, and more, this is a fun way to get your education on.