Sunday, May 01, 2011

Things to do with your child during the holidays (and after)

One whole month of Puttachi's summer holidays has gone by, Puttachi is at home full time, and yet, all I'm feeling is, "Oh no, one month is already up! Just another month to go!"

So what are we doing that's making time fly? I thought I'll put down a list of things that we do or plan to do, so that you guys might get ideas out of it.

Actually, this list doesn't hold good only for the holidays - it is for anybody who is a full-time carer of a child.

* Gardening - If you don't have a garden, get some pots and some soil. Even a large plastic tub in which you can drill holes will do. Grow something. Growing veggies can be fun - harvesting and cooking the produce can be very exciting for the children. Try menthya/methi/fenugreek. It grows quickly. Try coriander too. Fresh coriander, picked five seconds before adding to the saaru is something else.

* Cooking - Make some snacks together. If it doesn't involve cutting and cooking, get the child to do it all himself. It's great for the child to realize that food just doesn't appear from thin air. :) Involve him in your daily cooking too - show him what's happening when you do that and this. But be very very very careful in the kitchen. Draw an imaginary line that he shouldn't cross when the stove is on.

* Clay modeling - Use playdoh, or else, just mix a nice and malleable ball of maida and water. It is much more easy to handle. Give her shapes to cut out, a roller to roll it out... After play, just store it in the fridge. Ten seconds in the microwave before play the next day is enough to restore the softness. After about 3-4 days, you can throw it away and make a fresh ball. There are ways to make homemade playdoh - check online - you can add food colour to get different colours too.

* Water tub - Get a large tub, put some water and toys in it and put the child in it. Puttachi will gladly stay for hours if I let her!

* Art and Craft - In our home, this has turned out to be the single-largest time-consumer during the holidays. Starting from shopping for materials, organizing, looking up books/internet/brain for ideas, then actually making stuff, then cleaning up, to showing it off to people - it takes SO much time. And it's a whole lot of fun. I'll probably do a post on the kinds of things you can do - to give you an idea. Coming up soon.

* Storytelling - Tell stories, and ask the child to tell stories. It is very difficult to listen constantly to a child's usually non-stop nonsense, so if you are listening with only one ear, it is fine. But if you do listen, you are in for good laughs. One more thing, a child's stories sometime reveal her feelings, things that she hasn't expressed to you directly.

* Story Reading - Read stories with your child. Sit next to her, cuddle, and read a book together. Read out, translate in your mother tongue, or ask the child to read out some words - whatever. Let it be interactive. Ask questions, let the child interrupt if she wants to ask questions. Look at the illustrations - these can be a great source of discussions too! This time can be beautiful.

* Playacting - act out the stories you know - dramatize it. After the initial hesitation and shyness (yours, definitely not the child's) I assure you its a lot of fun. Improvise, act like a clown, and see if your child isn't rolling around laughing. you don't even need props or costumes or many people. Puttachi and I assume multiple roles in a story, and that itself is a lot of fun. We don't use costumes, but I'm sure that'll add to the fun.

* Puzzles - Get all kinds of puzzles, jigsaws and otherwise, and make it with the child. SImple ones he can solve himself. The ones that are just beyond his reach - sit with him, explain while he does it himself. It's wonderful to watch the child getting the hang of it.

* Helping with chores - Get him to help with your work. Folding laundry, cleaning up, etc. Take him shopping, ask him what vegetables he would like, buy them, show him how to select vegetables - get him involved.

* Park - It helps tremendously if you have a good park close by, with children's play equipment, where you can take the child most evenings. Evenings can make a child restless, and exercise and fresh air is always good. Push him gently to try more difficult monkey-ladders, higher slides, but the moment he shows fear, just withdraw, don't force. He will lead the way when he is ready. And going to the same park regularly helps - you make friends - and the child is more enthu to go the park to meet friends, and you can have some adult conversation with the friends' parents!

* Getting involved in the child's play - HAs your child asked you to come and play with her? Have you felt, oh no, how boring? Just once, shed that hesitation and plunge right into it - doing "inane" things like fake dressing a teddy bear, giving a doll a bath - just do it alongwith your child - and see how much fun it can become!

* Doing nothing - The most important, most delightful thing ever. Remember our summer holidays when we had no summer camps to worry about, no exotic vacations to take, nothing but lounge around all day? And if you look back on it, don't you remember it with fondness? That's what I'm trying to say. Sometimes it is best to just not do anything. Puttachi and I cuddle and play around for an entire hour after she wakes up in the morning. If anybody asks me later what exactly we did, I cannot say. We don't really do anything, but that hour goes by so quickly. We just talk, play, hug, tease, laugh... and then there are other pockets in the day when Puttachi just goes about doing nothing, or just looks at shadows, or observes the movement of trees,  or stares into space.  I read somewhere that children are actually assimilating information when they stare into space like that!

* Little games - Devise little games that can act as fillers - something to distract the child when she is being difficult, or to cajole her to go brush her teeth.... Puttachi and I play a version of word-building, and a very simple 20-questions, we play I-spy, running and catching, just jumping up and down, dancing to tunes. Then there are these traditional finger games which your parents must have played with you - these can be good fillers, yes, but can also be entire activities on their own.

* Toys - get some different kinds of toys - traditional toys, toys that need imagination, and let the child try it out. You can even exchange toys with friends so as to avoid buying new things - or there are even toy libraries now.

* Teacher - While we play teacher-teacher, Puttachi challenges her own limits. She wants me to "teach" her things. That's how she learned to read. She knew that something happens when one puts letters together, and she made me read them, and then figured it out herself. Teacher games are good like that. I am taking that opportunity to familiarize her with Kannada alphabets. Whenever she has had enough, I stop immediately. And that is perhaps the key. Because she comes back next time, asking me to do exactly what she had asked me to stop doing the previous time.

* Visiting - Visit friends/relatives, and ask them to come over.

* Playdates - Get your child's friends to come over and play - outgoing children are starved of company during holidays, and playing with someone they know can be good for them.

* Visit places around your city. A museum, planetarium, a fun park, a movie, a restaurant, whatever - find out, and just go.

* Cultural events - Find out about music and dance concerts, plays, or just fun events that you can take your child to. You never know what will appeal to the child!

* Make things for people - This could come under art and craft sub-heading - but the process of making a little present for somebody, even if it is a small drawing, or a palm impression, that in itself is exciting.

I'm sure I'll remember some more as soon as I post this, and if I do, I'll post them in the comments section. Meanwhile, please pitch in with your suggestions!

Coming up: (committing myself :))
Next post: Tips and suggestions based on my experience about how to have a smooth day with the child - how to keep the child engaged, yet get all your regular work done.
Post after that: How to keep yourself sane and energetic in the midst of all this child-caring. Coz face it, it is draining!


Radhika said...

That's really nice way of putting it together. Liked it.

Devaki said...

Awesome awesome post Shruthi! I have bookmarked it already - hope to try out all of your tips with Baby M over the next few years. Thanks again and looking forward to the promised posts.

I'd just like to add - Baby M loves to stack (and knock down!) colorful blocks as well. It keeps him engaged for up to half an hour at a time while I sit next to him and read peacefully. :)

Anonymous said...

1. making soap bubbles ... preferebly in a park or , roof top or a beach... making our own straws with old papers.... so that we get different bubble sizes... kept us occupied for long joyful hours.
2. Writing a script ...and adding voice [narrater, acter etc]...voice modulating...old person, vendor, baby, etc etc... adding sounds like ...horses' hooves [ marbles inside a tin box, gurgling for a stream, rustling of paper, sighs and whistles, animal sounds etc] and recording an audio play on a simple tape recorder [ with songs and music]... this would take us a whole summer... improvising the script and erasing, editing... inviting friends and family to play roles in it.... finally by the end of summer holidays producing a kind of radio play... used to be a very interesting activity.

jayashree aththe

asanandan said...

Nice remainder collection. Thanks for explain.


Shrinidhi Hande said...

nice collection of to do things...

Chatty wren said...

A really nice list of things. Looking forward to reading the other 2 follow-up posts as well. Pockets of doing nothing time are very important too........Some activities can be led by children themselves, though perhaps as adults we may think they are a sheer waste of time. I remember cloud watching and discussing shapes as one. Another was to dissolve a brick in water and paint the garden wall.......

Shruthi said...

Thanks, Radhika. I would've appreciated your inputs too!

So glad you liked it, Devaki. :) Hope it helps!

Jayashree aththe, I can see you had a lot of fun with all that, wow! Great idea.

asanandan, Srinidhi, Thanks, glad you liked it!

Chatty wren, I agree completely with you about some activities seeming like a waste of time! You never know, though, what's happening in those brains! :D

praneshachar said...

just marvellous amazing one its very useful for parents who don't know what to do with their child in holidays. Its one of the big challenge of the present day I loved to read and really enjoyed each one

- -