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Parents of only children often have to fend for themselves when it comes to engaging with their little one during summer vacations and holidays. This article lists fun, constructive activities to keep an only child engaged for hours on end.
When your little one is a baby, it is relatively easy to entertain them owing to their small wake windows and immobility. As they grow older, the need to keep them engaged and interested is just never ending. You always need to have a trick up your sleeve. And quite a few backups as well.
Parents of an only child are particularly aware of this struggle. However, their calls for help are often met with an annoying counter-question: “Why don’t you have another child to play with your older one?”
While this is a topic for another time, we’ll state the obvious: that’s not how you keep your only child engaged. Here’s a more helpful list of ideas.
But before we begin, for your sanity, do continue to maintain a routine – with fixed timings for bathing, sleep, and meals – for your child during vacations. You’ll thank us when the school year starts.
This is the best time to explore your child’s interests outside of school. What was that one activity that your child enjoyed doing or was inclined towards but didn’t have time for during the school year? You’ve hit the jackpot if you can identify it.
Encourage them to pursue it. Get them the materials and resources required to do this.
If your child is a budding van Gogh, get their little hands on sketch books, colour pencils, gel crayons, and other supplies. Encourage them to sketch or paint every day.
If your child is interested in baking, gift them a baking kit and encourage them to join you in making cakes and cookies. Show them new recipes on YouTube or ask them to find a good recipe for the next baking session.
Your child may be unintentionally dropping hints that they love music if you catch them singing their heart out in the bathroom or drumming rhythmically on surfaces with their toys. Understand what type of music they are interested in and sign them up for music classes.
If your child has quite the persuasive pen, introduce them to the art of journaling. Ask them to note down their thoughts in their personal journal.
Do remember that these hobbies could be hit-or-miss. Perhaps your kid will continue to pursue their chosen activity with interest over time. If this is the case, rejoice! Having a hobby helps kids build self-confidence, develop life skills, and improves their mental health.
However, if it looks like your child isn’t enjoying their chosen activity beyond a point, don’t fret. Don’t force them to continue, and understand what other areas or activities might interest them.
With the unforgiving summers in India, parents often worry about dehydration and sunburns during their little ones’ playtime. While this worry is valid, it isn’t reason enough to keep them confined indoors. Studies show that lack of engagement in physical activities is the primary reason for paediatric obesity.
Let your child explore outdoors when the sun’s rays aren’t strong, say mornings and evenings. Take note to apply a good amount of proper sunscreen (SPF 30 or above, broad spectrum, water-resistant) before they go out and encourage them to drink plenty of water.
Here are a few things that can keep your child physically active:
Nature walks: Take your child for early morning walks in a park. Let them lead the walk, and have them connect with nature. Carry a notebook or a small sketchbook for them to jot down or draw what they see.
Hopscotch: There is only so much your little one can explore in the house. One easy way for your child to get some activity without going far is to have hopscotch floor decals in their room.
Pooltime: Summer is the time for splashing around in pools. If your child is yet to learn their way around in a pool, now is the time to get them started. Local swimming clubs usually have classes for kids during vacations; sign your child up. If your apartment complex has a pool good enough to learn swimming in, ask the residents’ committee to hire an instructor for kids.
Cycling: Get your child a cycle and a helmet (of course!). Teach them to ride a cycle. While your little one learns a major life skill, they will also be equipped with another core childhood memory. Once they have mastered riding, let them safely explore the park in your neighbourhood.
If you want your child to be an avid reader growing up, summer vacations are when you break out the books.
Let them sink their teeth into an age-appropriate book series such as Zayn and Zoey Toddler, Big Box of Boynton, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Percy Jackson, and Nancy Drew Mystery Stories.
Reading helps young children understand the world a little better. It improves their creativity, helps them to be empathetic, and develops focus. Did we mention lesser screen time?
Does your child find stimulation in tactile activities? If yes, your child might love to get their hands messy. And we are here for it!
If you aren’t sure if your child will enjoy it, you could encourage them to feel different textures in their daily activities. A functional tactile system in the body – which handles the sense of touch – is important for a child’s brain development.
Here are some tactile activities for your child:
Soft and gooey: Slime and playdough give the best sensory stimulation. They help with the development of your tot’s fine motor skills. Importantly, this type of sensory play promotes them to be in the moment and increases their ability to focus. For us parents, that’s a good thing because they are busy having fun.
Colour-me-not: If your child enjoys colouring but is more interested in filling the colour in anything but paper, introduce novel concepts and textures for them to colour like this 5-Colour Tie-Dye Kit, 3D colouring set, and Colour Me Creative: Adorable Animals.
Building blocks: If you want to engage your child for a longer period of time, block play is the way to go. With the open-ended nature of this type of sensory play, children not only develop fine motor skills, but also spatial reasoning, dexterity, and problem solving skills. We love lightweight magnetic foam blocks and glow-in-the-dark magnetic blocks.
Parents often worry that their children have a short attention span. But did you know that there are ways to improve this?
One fantastic way to keep kids curious and interested for longer stretches of time is by doing puzzles. It can keep your little one thinking – boost their problem-solving skills, logical reasoning skills, and self esteem.
If you are interested in keeping your child curious all-day (okay, hours) long, here are some age-appropriate puzzles:
For children above five years: You could get started with a 100-piece puzzle such as Robot Factory 100-Piece Decoder Puzzle or Alice's Adventures in Whiskerland Bookish Cats 100 Piece Puzzle.
For children above 10 years: They are now ready for complex puzzles. Gray Malin The Beach Double Sided 500 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle is our favourite for this age group.
For children above 12 years: Your child could go pro with 1,000-piece puzzles like this Plant Shelfie 1000 Piece Puzzle.
For children above 15 years: Two thousand-piece puzzles – such as Michael Storrings The Great White Way 2000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle – can test your child’s patience if they manage to safekeep every last one of those pieces.
These activities aren’t just for only children; they can be done with siblings and peers as well. A well-spent summer vacation means well-rested children. And that’s always good for parents when the school year begins.