The past two years have been a challenge one way or another for everyone across the globe. We had to get used to new working arrangements, remote learning, and doing all of this while we tried to keep our distance from those we love.
In the meantime, many parents also discovered that they needed to come up with creative ways to take care of and entertain their children who were not able to go to their usual activities. This has become a challenge especially for parents and caregivers of children with special needs, such as autistic children.
Though it may have been difficult to find the right balance between work and home life, parents and caregivers of children with special needs are resilient, and many tips and tricks have proven effective when establishing this balance, some of which are listed below. They are fun and educational, as they improve various skills of your child while also entertaining them to no end.
Campout at Home
We may not be able to go outside, but it is possible to bring the outdoors into your home. You can turn your living room into a tent or a fort. This will be a relaxed environment for your child to play in. Gather around blankets and sheets, chairs, and maybe even flashlights to get this camp started. We’ve also set up our real tent right in the living room!
Encourage your child to build the tent. If they can’t do it by themselves, help them out, and in the meantime, identify the items you are using. You can sit in the tent and read books with your kid to spend a relaxed evening. Make sure to bring your child’s favorite toys into the fort as well!
Classic Memory Cards
For this activity, you need a set of picture cards that have doubles of each picture. You can find these in many toy stores or make your own with pictures of family members, saints, or your child’s favourite things. Memory card activity is great for toddlers to develop their concentration and social skills at the same time.
Arrange the pairs of matching cards face down. Make sure to do it in random order. Then, prompt your child to flip two cards over. If they get a matching pair, they can collect those cards. If not, turn them face down again and continue the play. Remember to keep the cards in the same place, even if there are only a few cards left, to help with spatial memory.
You can also introduce positive reinforcement when they get it right. Your kid will also work their memory, and the more you practice, the better they will get at this activity!
Release Your Kid’s Inner Van Gogh!
Gather your entire family for this amazingly fun activity! You can use extra-large cardboard boxes and turn them into a canvas, or get an old bedsheet and give your child some kid-safe paint. Your child could also paint large pieces of cardstock, mugs, plant pots, craft picture frames, etc. This activity will boost your child’s motor skills as well as their self-confidence and creativity.
There are many ways to make this painting activity more fun. Get some cut vegetables or fruits from the kitchen and paint with those! Many fruits and veggies make cool stamp patterns. Try painting with marbles or following a specific style of painting, such as Australian dot painting.
Your child will have fun and improve their hand-eye coordination. You can also name the colors while you are painting to help your child learn and distinguish colors. If your entire family participates, show off all of your creations at the end and display your art around the house.
Which Key Opens Which Door?
This activity is amazing for counting and recognizing numbers. Your child will also get to work on their fine motor skills as they will have to sort through the numbers. All you need to do is cut out as many pieces of cardboard as you like. You can start small, let’s say five. Then, with a marker, number these pieces of cardboard with large numbers. Take these numbered cardboards and stick them under different locks around the house.
After this preparation, give your child some keys to ”open” these locks. The goal here is for your child to look for and find the locks starting with one and in the correct numerical order. Once they find the lock, they would have to sort through the keys and find the key that fits into the lock. If you feel like sorting through the keys is a bit difficult for your kid, try to number the keys as well for your child to match.
Obstacle Course in Your Living Room
Kids have a lot of fun with obstacle courses. You can now build your own right in your living room! Use what you have around the house: pillows, blankets, cardboard boxes, buckets, chairs, tables, ottomans, etc. Try to make this course in a large area so your kid is not cramped in a small space.
Make sure to include various obstacles where the child has to crawl, climb, jump, or balance. The entire thing is up to your imagination. Encourage your child to participate in the building process as well. This game will help your child work on many of their gross motor skills through the activities.