Motor Skills Development & Miscellaneous Activities for the Young Homeschooled Child
This is my final post on the series related to keeping a toddler/preschool child busy while homeschooling other children. I hope, insha’Allah, that you have found the information useful. Here are the final ways I have found to keep my younger child busy:
MOTOR SKILLS FUN:
Motor skills learning is really fun for the kiddos. There are things you can do indoors and things you can do outdoors. Some things require your assistance – and other things that your child can do near you. What types of activities do we do?
- Throwing balls is fun for a younger child – and it helps them develop important skills. You can have your child throw a ball over hand – then have them throw a ball underhand.
- You can also have them throw a ball at a target or throw a ball into a target (a basket or box) or through a target (a hoop).
- You can have your child kick a ball or sit down and roll a ball.
There is so much your child can do with – and learn from balls!
- Beanbags are another great learning toy – and they are also easy to make. Your child can learn to throw a beanbag at a target (you could place a pillow on the floor and get them to try to hit the pillow with the beanbag.
- Your child can also learn to throw their beanbag into a target. You can use a basket or a box – or you can even get fancy and cut holes into the side of a box and have your child try to get the beanbag through the holes while standing at a distance.
- Hopscotch is a lot of fun for kids. You could easily draw the grid for hopscotch with chalk on the sidewalk. I have also heard of people who made a permanent grid on a sheet and lay it out when it is time to play indoors. I also purchased years ago a nice set of square grids. You can not only connect the squares to play hopscotch, but you can also set the squares apart and have your child jump from one to another – even making games out of it.
- If you have a few hula hoops – you could set them up a distance from each other and have your child try to jump from one circle to another. If you don’t – rope could also easily work – just put them in the shape of a circle (as wide as you want it) and attach them with tape at the ends. Then, have your child jump from one circle to another. If you use your imagination – I am sure you can come up with many other ideas of materials you can use for this purpose.
- If you have a jump rope – you child will love to learn how to jump. However, be warned that younger ones just aren’t ready yet and often get frustrated pretty quickly. Don’t worry though – because you don’t have to only jump rope to enjoy it. Lay the rope on the group and have your child jump from one side to another. Tie the rope to a chair (or have someone else hold it) and hold the rope a bit higher – see if you child can jump over it.
- Children love to role play and use their imagination. Make a game of it – have your child pretend to be a bunny. How does a bunny move? Pretend to be a snake – how does a snake move? After you are done with animals – how about transportation (a car, a motorcycle, a bike, an airplane?)
- Have a small parachute? Have your child go upstairs and throw it down – then they will run down – pick it up and go back to throw it downstairs. If you don’t already have one, you can easily make one – just search online for instructions (there are many variations out there).
- There are many other things your child can do – blowing bubbles, ring toss, skipping, hopping, and lots more.
If you are interested in this topic – you can easily find more motor skill activities either online or in books. I have seen several. One that I personally use is entitled “Activities for Gross Motor Skills Development” by Teacher Created Resources. Another physical activity book that I use is entitled “Ready to Use P.E. Activities for Grades K-2.”
There are a few other miscellaneous activities that my youngest loves to do – and it keeps her occupied quite a while, masha’Allah. Here are a few:
- Playing with alphabet magnets and a magnetic board. She carries the board with her and sits down with a box full of large size magnets and puts them all over the board. When she is done, she takes them off and puts them back in the box. She then starts over. I don’t exactly know what the attraction is to this activity – but she loves it.
- My youngest also loves to play “fish”. I have a game similar to this on my website. Essentially, you can make cards – index cards work well – and you have your child fish for them. You can make a fishing pole by using a dowel or other thin stick and attaching string to one end. At the end of the string, tie a magnet. Then, on each index card you can put anything you want – stickers of different items or colors. Make a game of it. Have your child fish and tell you what they “caught.” You can also have them fish for one card. If it is green (for example) then have them continue to “fish” until they find the other matching green card.
I am sure there are many other activities you can do – whole books are written about it (and this has actually turned into a little book itself, masha’Allah). That was quite unintended – but I do hope that it does help make your homeschooling day a little easier for you and your little one.
Another thought for keeping your child busy – reward them when they cause less distraction in your school day. Everyone knows how much easier it is to homeschool with a younger child when they don’t keep coming to you – mommy – mommy – mommy! If you are able to start implementing some of these activities with your child – and previously you were allowing them to play on the computer or watch television often – don’t expect them to jump quickly into the new routine. They need to adjust. They will, insha’Allah – and you will be thankful for it. Then, when your child is able to keep from constantly demanding your attention – you should sincerely thank them and even reward them for it. I don’t mean hand them a cookie at the end of the school day – but I do have a few suggestions.
I have used a star chart in the past as a way to chart behavior – but also as a reminder to the children about what is important – and as a way to reward them. You can set up a weekly chart. If your child keeps themselves from distracting the other children by doing these activities – and by waiting for their time with you (not demanding it now) then you could put a star on the chart that day. At the end of the week, if they have so many stars – you can reward them on the weekend – let them have time alone with you. Take them to the kitchen and bake up something together. Take them outside for a walk – but show them that they are important and that you value time with them as well. Another thing I have done is put homemade coupons in a box (you can even find some online). On each coupon is a different reward – read a book together, play a game, go to the park, etc. At the end of the day – if my child has had only limited distractions – you could reward them by allowing them to close their eyes and pick out a coupon. Whatever coupon they choose – you do it together. Insha’Allah, this way your child knows that time during school is important but that they (and their time) are also important.
Aside from that – I just want to share some advice. You need to know that your child will not be able to play by themselves all the time – you have to accept that. Not every activity is going to keep your child’s attention and not every activity will seem fun to them. Your child will – at some point – need you and need your attention. As I said before – just because we are homeschooling another child or other children – it does not mean that our youngest will not demand our attention – will not need our time. We have to learn to be flexible. We will have good days and we will have bad days – it just happens. However, we should strive to do our best to keep our child busy – having fun – and learning. You will not regret it, insha’Allah.
Sumayyah Umm SAA