Keeping younger siblings engaged and active at home while their older siblings are away at school can be a challenge. Here are some inexpensive or even free ways to keep you and your baby or preschooler engaged this school year here in Arapahoe County
- Playdates with friends. These don’t have to be at a home and typically can be less stressful for moms if they are not. While the weather is warm during August and September, take advantage of the myriad of parks around Arapahoe County. If your child or their friends are burned out on their local park, plan to meet at a park that is a short drive away, but new to everyone. Just a change of scenario can do wonders for a child. Westlands Park in Greenwood Village offers a toddler friendly playground, as well as fun for the older child. You can find a list of parks by city at http://www.co.arapahoe.co.us/Departments/PW/OpenSpaceProgram/OpenSpaceParksRecreationandTrails.asp
- MOPS Groups. Get to know and have some fun with moms in your neighborhood. MOPS groups cater to moms with at least one child 6 years old or younger. They have childcare for the kids and keep them busy with stories and crafts. While your child is having fun, you get to also. Meet some new moms, learn some great tips on parenting and do a craft or two. You can find a local mops group at the MOPS website: www,mops.org
- Learn Together. It’s never too early for your child to learn. Whether they are a baby, toddler or preschooler, there minds are growing and taking in everything around them. Take advantage of their love of learning and have fun with it. Even if they are already in Preschool, you can add to their knowledge and get them ready for the next step in their education. It’s easier than you think. For your baby, read to them. Books with textures are a great way to introduce sensory experiences to them. If they are sitting up, you can even have them face you, so they can see you reading. For the toddler, books with shapes, numbers and letters will introduce them to early reading and math concepts. Your preschooler will love a good picture book with a funny story. If they have an love of animals, get animal books. If your son wants to be a pirate, grab your sword and read a swash-buckling tale with him. For the preschooler, you can also add in Leap Frog Videos that teach letters and early reading techniques. Any head start that you can give your child before they head off to Kindergarten is a plus.
- Games, Crafts and Dress-Up. You may be tired of Hi-Ho Cheerio, but your preschooler probably is not. Repitition is important for their ability to learn. Remember that the majority of the old standard games teach early math and reading skills also. Puzzles are also a good learning tool that can be a lot of fun. If you are low, hit the local kid’s consignment store or Goodwill store for some new ones without breaking the bank. Gumballs in Littleton on Gallup is a great source for used toys and games. Basic crafts can also be fun too. Just some construction paper, coloring pages printed off the PBS Kids website or some googly eyes can lead to some fun with your child. Don’t be afraid to get crafty with them.
It’s all about interacting with your child and engaging them where they are. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. You can clean up during naptime.