Engaging your children in participatory activities, such as arts and crafts or gardening projects, will serve a variety of functions. Children participating in these activities will develop their imaginations and hand-eye coordination, and the activities will strengthen the bond between you and your child.
Encouraging Children to Do Activities
Remove any sources of distraction. If you want your children to get involved with activities of any kind, turn off the television, video games and computer. Do this in a way that doesn't come across as cruel, but be sure to let the kids know that their attention is required elsewhere.
Get involved in the activities. You cannot simply provide the materials and expect your children to learn the ropes on their own. If you want the kids to try painting, then don a smock and grab a paintbrush. Children are much more likely to engage in an activity if they see enthusiasm from an adult they know and trust.
Take the kids outside. Childhood obesity is epidemic in the United States, and the simple act of taking children to an outdoor play environment facilitates free play, with the added benefit of you being able to spend a little time outdoors as well. Playing tag, looking for insects, or playing hide and seek are all energetic outdoor activities that can be done without any extra equipment.
Design activities with a built-in reward. For example, teaching children to bake is a rewarding activity when the end product is a cookie or a brownie. If you want to teach the kids about the principles of engineering, use a model rocket. For learning about chemistry, try a homemade volcano. There is no need to bribe the kids with the promise of a reward if the activity itself is fun.
Plan activities around the specific interests of your child. Rather than trying to force your child into an activity that doesn't hold his interest, find something that suits both his tastes and your desire for him to engage in meaningful activities. If your child is interested in animals, take her to a local nature center. If he is interested in art, a free art exhibit may be the way to go.
Invite your children's friends and other parents along. Oftentimes, children can be encouraged to participate in activities if they see other children doing them. Consider having the kids put on a puppet show or play a board game together. This has the added benefit of giving both you and your children a chance to socialize.