As parents, it’s easy to get caught in our own personal goals for the New Year. But we know that giving makes our neurons happy and helps us feel fulfilled as parents. In that spirit, here are some short ideas to spur your thinking about new experiences you can share with your children in the New Year!
Children Ages 0-2
Kids newborn through toddler experience everything anew. Here are some simple new experiences that you can try with your younger child.
- Spicy, sweet, and savory. For each meal, rather than thinking “fruit, vegetable, protein” etc. think about flavor profiles and try to offer something spicy – not necessarily hot, but with different kinds of spice – sweet, and savory and let your child sample a bit of each. New flavors might mean a less picky eater and a more adventurous palate!
- Sticky, squishy, and tickly. Put together a sensory box using ordinary things around the house – a dollop of honey in one bowl, buttered cooked pasta noodles in another, and pulled apart cotton balls in another. Let your child play in lots of different textures to help them become more used to different feelings on their hands and between their fingers.
- Woodstock, Bach, and folk rock. Make a short playlist or borrow one of ours and put it on a speaker in your child’s room prior to naps, bedtime, or during play. Include things you listen to and things you think your child might find soothing or stimulating. Music with or without lyrics will help your young child’s ear develop, calm them to sleep, and even get their neurons firing.
Children at this age are exploring their world. Help them do it without fear!
- Add it up. Make a trip to the store an adventure by taking time to make it a math and color experience. Use your grocery list as a color call out: “Help me find the yellow fruit.” Ask your child to count up items in your grocery cart. Let them walk rather than ride and pull things off the shelf and put them in the cart – even breakable things – so they aren’t just along for the ride.
- Set it and (don’t) forget it. Ask your child to be in charge of setting the table and show them where things should go. Trust them to carry breakables such as plates and glasses to the table, and ask them to help you pour water. A plate might break or some water might spill, but your reaction to that and your child’s sense of ownership over the work will be rewarded with a more confident child.
- Experience a new language and culture. You don’t need to travel far to create a diverse experience for your child. Head to an ethnic market, shop, or event near you to hear the sights and sounds of a new culture. Encourage your children to look at toys, food, and to hear people speaking. Ask your child what they see and hear!
Kids are makers at heart and children at this age want to make and do.
- Shake and bake. Help your child find a new recipe they want to cook and put them in charge. Make a list, go to the store, pick out the ingredients, measure, mix, and bake! By letting your child make these decisions, they learn both to plan and follow through on their plans (and have a delicious snack, too!).
- Box house. It’s a perfect time to make use of those Holiday boxes. Work with your child to draw and design a box house and then help them build and decorate it using boxes, tape, scissors, and other craft supplies they find around the house.
- Make a mix. Curate a list of 30 or 40 songs of all different types, from classical to metal. Sit down with them and listen to snippets of each one, ask them to pick out the 10 songs they like best, then create a playlist that’s yours, together, for the house or the car. Make a CD for them to keep as a memento.
The New Year is a great time for new experiences. Take time to have some with your young child!
About the Author
Bill Anderson is a father of 4 who shares his experiences about parenting and life with Guidepost Parent.
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