8 EFFECTIVE (AND AFFORDABLE) WAYS FOR PARENTS TO STIMULATE YOUNG MINDS
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on toys and technology to stimulate your child’s mind. In fact, some of the best ways to encourage creativity are through the simplest activities.
At Heritage House, we encourage children to play and explore their creative spirit. So here are some effective and affordable tips you can use to stimulate young minds.
1. MAKE BEDTIME STORIES A REGULAR OCCURRENCE
Nothing conjures fantastical images better than a good story. And because children thrive on routine, making nightly bedtime tales a tradition will help foster a stronger relationship with your child as well as give them the creative tools to follow along with the story in their mind’s eye.
Experts suggest you can start reading to your child as early as you like– and the earlier the better! So start building that library and enjoy an evening curled up alongside your kid with an exciting book.
2. GET LABELLING
Stimulate your child’s brain and expand their vocabulary by setting up a fun labelling system around the house. Every week, pick two or three items around your home – like the fridge, coffee maker and vacuum cleaner, for example – and label them. Make sure the font is clear and easy to read for your child.
You can make a fun game of it on the first day of the week, asking your child to find which objects have been labelled this time around. By reinforcing the labelled words on a daily basis, soon your child will be able to identify a huge range of household objects independently.
3. PUT TOGETHER A SCAVENGER HUNT
If there’s one thing all kids are, it’s curious. And they absolutely love to explore. So latch onto their natural tendency to investigate all things new and interesting by putting together a scavenger hunt. Whenever you have some free time, such as during your child’s daily naptime, hide some of their favourite items around the house. If they are old enough, you could even draw them a map or write down a fun list of ‘hidden treasure’.
Scavenger hunts don’t have to be premeditated – they are just as fun in the spur of the moment. Think how handy it would be to have your own little supermarket assistant searching for groceries!
4. PLAY MEMORY GAMES TOGETHER
Memory is a muscle that grows with repeated use, so why not exercise your child’s mind to help their mental growth? Take advantage of everyday settings for memory games – walk around the neighbourhood and ask them, “Who lives in that house?”
You can also use a simple deck of cards for matching memory games – a cheap option that’s bound to hold their attention.
5. SHARE MEMORIES OFTEN
Take advantage of lazy afternoons or long trips in the car by switching off the screens and talking with your child about their favourite memories. Get them to visualise a particular day they enjoyed and have them recall all the best moments.
Not only will this help your child improve their ability to visualise events and stories in their mind, but childhood expert Barbara Solomon says it will also help their memories become “richer” and they will learn to recall them in a clearer form.
6. DESIGNATE A ‘CREATIVE SPACE’ IN YOUR HOME
While it’s important to take advantage of any opportunity in day-to-day life to encourage your child’s creativity, it’s equally important to give them a dedicated space where they can stimulate their minds in their own way.
You don’t have to reserve an entire ‘creativity room’ for them – just a corner of the living room with their blocks or Lego, costumes or books will be enough. Whenever they are bored or frustrated, they can go to their fun little area and do what they love most: play.
7. ENCOURAGE FREE TIME
Speaking of play, experts says unstructured play is a critical tool that all parents should bestow upon their kids. Think of it as essential, not optional.
Free play means just that: freedom to play in any way your child sees fit. Without boundaries, they are able to build entire worlds for themselves, sit and play in their own minds or simply putter around for a few hours. You might be surprised just how greatly unstructured play supports your child’s imagination and creativity.
8. MAKE A ‘WEATHER WINDOW’ EVERY MORNING
A fun way to start the day with your child is to help build in them a love of the environment and the world around them. A weather wall doesn’t have to be anything fancy – just a small chalkboard or whiteboard, or even a blank piece of paper will work.
Get your child to draw representations for all the different types of weather – like the sun for a bright day, or lightning bolts for storms overhead.
Then every morning have them draw or pin the day’s weather onto their ‘weather wall’, and get them to write down additional descriptors like ‘rainy’ or ‘chilly’ to help expand their vocabulary while linking it to something fun.
Fun is what you make of it – and so is learning! Stimulate your child’s mind, creativity and imagination with these simple and affordable suggestions.