Now that the Olympic games are a distant memory, keep that memory alive by holding your own indoor Olympics...perfect for these slightly more dreary autumn days!
Place a beanbag on your toddler's back and have them crawl around until it falls off. Older children can balance the beanbag on their head and walk slowly. Whoever keeps their bag steady the longest wins.
Place some small toys on the floor and describe a route around them. Take a medium sized ball, such as a foam tennis ball, and have your little ones 'bat' the ball around the obstacle course using a straw. Can they do it without bumping the obstacles themselves?
Use teddies, dolls or any other suitable toys as 'pins'. Sit them up a few feet away and use a foam ball to try to knock them down. Make sure the ball is only rolled gently along the floor!
Fancy Dress Race
Collect together some fancy dress outfits and place them in front of your little ones. They must put on the first outfit, turn around once then take that outfit off and put on the next one. The first one to wear all the outfits is the winner.
Get out all your puzzles (sized according to ability) and see how quickly you can complete them all. Use a timer to time each one and look at whether each puzzle is completed faster or slower than the one before. Show how timers count seconds and explain the idea of timing.
Children learn in different ways and one of the ways in which they learn is by applying logic and deduction, essentially learning through exploring. To nurture this approach to learning, introduce simple puzzles and toys that encourage thinking and problem solving:-
- Touchy feely: books and toys with different textures allow a baby to feel and discover how different surfaces feel.
- Shape sorters: these come in all manner of designs, from simple puzzle boards to shape sorters built into ride on toys. Shape sorters help to encourage logical thinking as babies slowly work out how to match shapes with their matching slots.
- Building blocks: whether old fashioned wooden blocks or construction toys such as Duplo or Megablocks, children can explore how objects interact and cause and effect with physical items.
You can boost the logical power of older children by stimulating thinking with mental challenges:-
- Quizes: older children can learn by asking questions and you can encourage learning by asking questions back to them.
- Puzzles: 'spot the difference', mazes, simple word searches and small sudoku puzzles can be enjoyed by children from the age of 4 upwards.
- Obstacle courses: create an obstacle course in the garden on a grand scale, introduce challenges such as how to cross a crocodile pit or how to go from one end of the garden to the other without stepping on the ground - problem solving is all part of logical thinking.
The ability to learn through logical thining is a skill that will assist a child throughout their lives - encouraging this style of thinking from early on will create a solid foundation on which they can grow with time.
Child experts are increasingly concerned that technology is replacing physical activities in the lives of young children - children spend more time tapping away on computer keyboards, playing with pretend mobile phones and watching television than they do playing outdoors or doing craft and other traditional learning activities. Parents are becoming more lazy, preferring to sit children in front of a TV or a computer rather than interacting with them and undertaking physical games and activities.
Interacting with others is a vital component for children to develop properly. Traditional activities such as craft, drawing and doing puzzles, with an adult nearby, encourages fine motor skills and physical development, and language skills are learned by conversing with grown-ups. This is all bypassed by children sat passively in front of a TV or left to their own devices being entertained by computer games or pretend technology devices.
Even though parents today have less time to spend with their children than for previous generations, it seems that we are all too happy to spend that little time we do have separated from them while the children are expected to entertain themselves.
Spend a moment to reflect on your own lifestyle, and ask yourself whether you are dedicating enough time to your children?
Children typically need 12 - 14 hours sleep in every 24 hours and if your toddlers are getting their quota overnight, they may not need a daytime nap. Young children who aren't napping should be encouraged to take a 'quiet time' during the day as this rests them a little and let's them get through the day more easily. To introduce a 'quiet time', put your little one in their bedroom and let them play with puzzles or toys on their own for a while - 30 minutes is long enough for most children. If they require a nap then you may find that they fall asleep during this period on their own.
A 'quiet time' helps with the transition from taking daytime naps to doing away with them altogether. Some children will continue napping even once that have started school, but most children will give up naps anywhere between 2 and 4 years old. Sometimes children give up naps because they simply don't appear to need them, other times you will stop your children napping because it doesn't fit into your daily routine. If you have older children and have to do a school run, or if you have other daytime commitments, then it's quite possible that this will interfere with nap time.