In case you’ve been ignoring the news, most of the United States is practicing social distancing as a result of COVID-19. In order to help flatten the curve and stop the virus from spreading, many schools have closed, organizations have shuttered their doors, and daycares have closed up shop for the time being. As a result of more than 300 million students staying home from school, you might have a lot of extra time on your hands while you take care of your precious preschooler.
Now that many of us have been stuck inside for around one month, you might be running out of ideas to keep your curious kid occupied. After all, you can only read so many pop-up books before you want to tear out the pages yourself. A prestigious preschool is adept at coming up with lesson plans and keeping a child’s day occupied.
Unfortunately, you’re not a preschool teacher and you might not be prepared to fill your child’s day with fun activities. This becomes even more of a hassle if you’re trying to work at home in the face of a crisis. It’s common for parents to feel their patience running thin, even if you have a good schedule nailed down with your child.
If you’re quickly running out of ideas to keep your child occupied, there are a slew of creative activities designed to help your child’s development — and all from the comfort of your own home. When you’re fresh out of ideas, rely on these indoor activities to enjoy with your preschooler.
Start a garden or plant nursery
Does your toddler love the outdoors? Then starting a nursery might be a great educational activity this week!
At first, it might not seem like the most artistic endeavor for your kid. After all, growing plants is more of a science than an art. But between picking out the best plants and decorating their pots, there are plenty of moments to showcase your child’s creativity. This means that gardening incorporates a range of skills that your child will enjoy. Best of all? This action is great for homeowners and apartment dwellers alike.
Even if you don’t have a garden at home, growing seedlings into plants usually starts as an indoor venture. All you need is a vessel to hold your seeds. This typically takes the form of a pot, but you can even start growing your seedlings in an old egg container. This is especially beneficial if you want to grow different kinds of plants and track their growth. You can make one nursery for the parent and one for your child so that they can see the efforts of their hard work. Label each container so that you can keep track of which plants and microgreens grow the fastest.
This is not only a great bonding activity but it’s also one of the best ways to teach your child about plants. After all, plants are essential for life and it’s one of the first ways that your child can learn to care for something with tangible results. If they fail to properly take care of their plants, they will quickly learn that failure comes at a price. On the other hand, they will also get a huge rush when their hard work comes to fruition (especially if they are growing fruits). Since this activity will be spread out for the next few weeks — after all, plants take a while to grow — a simple project can easily turn into a month-long affair.
Since most children are hands-on learners, this activity is great for tots and young children alike. Try growing foods that you can eat or plant easy-to-grow flowers that yield fast results. For example, sunflowers grow quickly and they are one of the most striking flowers to look at. They typically sprout in about a week and once it becomes a seedling, you can teach your child how to move them into a bigger pot (or into your garden outside).
If you’re interested in growing your own food, planting lettuce is a great way to get your child into eating healthy. Most kids aren’t fans of leafy greens, but just about anyone will be willing to try something that they grew themselves. You won’t be able to eat your lettuce for a couple of months, but it’s a great food that’s easy to grow.
Get in the kitchen
If you are a parent to a chef-in-the-making, cooking and baking activities should be at the top of your to-do list. After all, spending time in the kitchen is something you’re going to need to do anyway as you prepare three square meals each day. Why not let your curious tot help out?
Better yet, baking is another hands-on activity that can help them get interested in a variety of topics. While they are still too young to understand fractions, they can learn valuable lessons when it comes to kitchen safety amidst the varying pieces of kitchen equipment in your home.
Keep in mind that preschoolers cannot do too much in the kitchen, even if they want to; they can’t chop vegetables or measure out ingredients without an accident occurring. As you start planning indoor activities to enjoy with your preschooler, consider what your child can and cannot do. Children as young as four can typically:
- Cut soft foods with a plastic knife
- Sprinkle salts and herbs
- Add ingredients to the dish
- Roll out doughs for breads and pizzas
- Crack fresh eggs and peel hardboiled eggs
- Whisk and stir different dishes
- Clean counters and set the table
- Decorate desserts — which is the most fun part!
Just be sure to keep it simple for young kids as they start journeying into the kitchen. The last thing you want is a nasty accident that sends your family running to the doctor. Be sure to tell your child what is and what is not allowed in the kitchen to help maintain their safety.
It’s also important to note that you know your kid best: even though most 4-year-olds can cut soft foods, this might be a little difficult for those that don’t have the fine motor skills associated with their age range. Take your time and figure out what your child likes to do to start developing a passion for cooking and baking. At the end of the day, this is one of the best indoor activities to enjoy with your preschooler.
You can even get your child interested in baking snacks that the dog will love! Look up pet-safe food recipes to bake your playful pooch some much-needed treats. After all, we can’t go to the store as often as we would like, so getting creative with indoor activities to enjoy with your preschooler is key. The best part? Many dogs eat just about anything. Even if the recipe gets a little too much salt or the treats are left in the oven for a little too long, most dogs will gobble it up regardless. It can be a huge win for your child if they see their dog enjoying the fruits of their efforts. Just be sure to shoot your vet an email if you’re ever worried about your dog reacting to a certain ingredient.
Play board games and video games
Board games are a great way to pass the time as a family. Even games for children offer a sense of competition that many adults find appealing, but the true benefit of board games is their ability to teach in secret.
By disguising learning opportunities as fun games, board game creators have managed to solidify and reinforce practical skills in the form of indoor activities to enjoy with your preschooler. Everything from counting to reading to creative thinking is touched on when you play a classic board game like Scrabble, Shoots and Ladders, and Hi Ho Cherry-O. Visual assets in each board game will help solidify some of these ideas as you play. While it’s recommended that you only buy what you need online, many local hobby stores will allow customers to order online to be picked up later. You can also ask and see if any friends have a spare board game that they would be willing to loan you at this time.
But while many people know the benefits of playing board games, even more have a bias against videogames. Thoughts that these games will ruin your child’s brain or make them violent are simply unfounded. And if you choose the right games, your child can experience a range of benefits, including:
- Reading comprehension
- Improved problem-solving skills and enhanced creative thinking
- Improved coordination and reaction times
- Better memory
- Better social skills — especially if they’re playing with you!
Keep in mind that it is important to vary the activities you perform with your child each day. Playing videogames can become addicting and playing board games make you, well, bored. Even if they’re helpful games that expand upon their education, it’s important to develop a range of indoor activities to enjoy with your preschooler. Otherwise, social distancing will seem truly isolating.
Get crafty with new art pieces
While you don’t need to set up an entire pottery studio in your home, investing in a few different art supplies can really help your child flex their creativity.
Art is essential because it helps children solve problems in creative new ways. It also has the benefit of enhancing their coordination and helping them build a hobby that they can enjoy for the rest of their life. Even if they don’t inevitably choose a career in fine arts, they can still find enjoyment in hobbies and creating something from nothing. The benefits of art are vital for children but they’re even more important for the young adults that your children will grow to be.
Creating art is one of the best indoor activities to enjoy with your preschooler since there are so many options to choose from. You can get out some crayons and paper and try drawing your favorite characters from books and television. You might even break out the play-doh and try to craft sculptures for the very first time! You might not want to wear your child’s version of custom jewelry — after all, cheerio necklaces WILL go bad — making a range of items with no limit can really stretch the boundaries of your child’s creativity. These hands-on activities can last hours if your child really likes them. For any work that they are proud of, it’s key that you hang them on your french doors or showcase them in a location that the world can see. They might become fine artists themselves if you support their artistic endeavors.
Countless parents are struggling to come up with indoor activities to enjoy with your preschooler. Luckily, these hands-on activities are some of the best ways to keep your children’s mind engaged in something helpful. Whether you’re a baker or a gardener, these simple ideas can shake up your routine and make social distancing a little more tolerable for the time being. At the end of the day, it’s all about your kid: let them decide what to do and roll with it. That’s the real key to finding indoor activities to enjoy with your preschooler.