How to Enrich a Child’s Life
Enrichment activities with children are shown to not only benefit them academically, but also build language and social skills. How to Enrich a child’s life is written to give you ideas for your children or grandchildren.
April 2022 Update: When I wrote this, I was active with one grandchild. Now I have three, ages 3 to 13. When we get together, they EXPECT an enriching activity.
“What are we going to do Grammy?”
Enriching activities can also help with mental and emotional health in children. It’s never too early to get started. The best part is that while it is a commitment, it shouldn’t feel like work.
The idea is to have FUN too!
Here’s the key to easily enriching a child’s life. Share your loves and passions with them. It’s not only fun but you foster learning, curiosity, creativity, and relationships.
Don’t let the concept of “enrichment” intimidate you. Truly, the best enrichment is your time and attention.
When you are lucky enough to have a child in your life (your own, grandchildren, niece, or nephew) spend time with them and enrich their life and yours.
I have been an advocate for providing enrichment activities for children my entire adult life.
I learned about the idea of enrichment from my own mom. She didn’t believe it was a school’s job to enrich our lives; she believed it was something that started at home.
As a child growing up, I always had access to arts and craft supplies. We didn’t have much money but I always had drawing and coloring supplies.
We had family dinner, every single night together. While the food was great, what we kids loved was listening to our parents have discussions.
Our dinner table was the place where we heard the most interesting and thought-provoking ideas. Sharing a family dinner most evenings is one of the best things you can do for children!
We didn’t travel but we were encouraged to play outside, read, and follow our curiosity wherever it went.
As a young mom, I loved doing crafts, playing games, taking walks, telling stories, reading books, and exploring the world around us with my children.
In addition, I was a Girl Scout leader and a Cub Scout leader. Later on I would be the director of a youth and teen program.
Now I do it as a grandparent. Connecting with children through enrichment activities is incredibly beneficial for them in all areas of their life.
The key to enriching a child’s life is to share your TIME, loves and passions with them.
If you want to do things to promote future success for your child or grandchild, spend time with them in enriching activities and see them blossom.
The most valuable thing to give a child is your time, your attention, and your participation in some kind of activity.
An Example of an Enriching Activity
I took my older granddaughter to an art gallery and book signing. She was fascinated to meet real people who write and make art.
How do I know this enriched her life and expanded her horizons? When we got back home, I had her write a thank you note to Duckie and the Grackle.
In her note, she said, “What will I be when I grow up? Mmmm, a poet? An artist?”
Now she knows that real people write books, illustrate books, paint pictures, make jewelry, and take photographs.
Nothing I could have told her about these things would have made the impact that her experiencing them herself would make.
I happen to love art, writing, books, and food. That’s what guides me in what I share. But that’s only a small sample of enriching activities.
Enriching a child’s life is not only good for them–it can be fun and educational for you
Here are some enrichment activities that I’m doing with my granddaughter and some suggestions for others.
Books and Literacy for Enrichment
I love to read and I love children’s books. I love encouraging the girls to read new books and am proud to have given my granddaughter, her first chapter books and to have been on her first visit to the library.
What started as a way to move her away from Disney Princess books has evolved into introducing her to entire new worlds, history, and positive role models.
Now at 13, she reads big books and has an excellent vocabulary.
As readers know, books provide inspiration and they spark curiosity and discussion. Books also help develop language and expand vocabulary.
As a college counselor, I can tell you that reading is one of the most important activities a child should be doing!
Remember all those “reading comprehension” sections on tests? No test review can replace ten years of actual reading!
Now that Lillian is a voracious reader, going to libraries is a standard part of our visits together. We are enjoying exploring different libraries in the city and trying out new books.
Explore the Outdoors
These days if you can do something outside–do it! We all need more time outdoors.
My three little ones love to swing. They live on a large property so disturbing the neighbors isn’t a worry. We take a big boom box out and I let them pick the music.
Then they play on the swing set. I push the smaller two, while the older one swings herself.
It might not sound like much but we have music, physical activity, and fun talking. It’s totally good for all of us.
Parks can also be super fun. Ours in Houston are closed right now but in other times, we love to explore a good park.
Walking trails or just walking in the neighborhood provide a lot of sensory activity too.
You can also play games outside. Hide and Seek, croquet, badminton, frisbee, or tag. Or you can have the kids help with some easy yard or garden chores.
Back when I was a kid, I knew the names of all the trees in our area, the names of most insects. I could identify safe plants to eat and ones to avoid.
Another fun outdoor activity is identifying wildflowers in the spring.
It can be fun to use nature books and identify what is in your nature area together.
My granddaughters love knowing the names of their garden plants. They know which ones they can pick and eat right off the plant.
Time outside and time in nature is shown to help with emotional health in children and teens. This can be important in this time when all people spend way too much time indoors!
We enjoy trying restaurants in the Houston area. Because the girls are never allowed to have electronic devices at the table, they eat and have conversations with the family.
The girls will try just about any food and eating in new places is a way to introduce her to new cultures and foods.
Eating out is also a way to teach good manners to children.
My children and now my grandchildren love going out to eat. It’s a fun way to try new kinds of food and also connect through conversation.
Creativity, Art, and Writing
I love fostering creativity in children by providing art supplies such as paper, notebooks, and tools for writing and coloring. The girls love it when we work on things together.
Our most recent project was to make Christmas Ornaments. We cut out and baked ornaments in the shape of a sweater. Then we painted them. Even the 2 year old helped!
Now, I have two additional grandchildren who love to do creative activities.
We spend time painting, drawing, and coloring. These supplies are inexpensive and can be used for many purposes.
You can show them how to make cards for people, picture frames, or just free play with creating.
My older granddaughters both have very different styles. While they use the same supplies, they use them differently. The baby loves to create too. She explores color, how to move her hands to make shapes on a page.
Cooking With Children
Cooking and baking are also fun. My younger granddaughter loves mixing things up in a bowl. Sometimes we sit in the kitchen and watch her daddy cook. I can tell that time in the kitchen is going to be one of our enrichment activities.
Cooking and baking require reading, following directions, safety, measuring, counting, and nutrition. It’s easy to create kitchen activities that are age appropriate.
The Benefit of Playing Games for Children
From Candy Land to Monopoly, I have spent many hours playing games with children. It was an important part of our home life with my children and now it’s fun to see my kids playing with the next generation. I have a stack of games in my living room as do both my daughters now.
I honestly think board games are one of the best things you can do with a child.
Playing games with children, teaches understanding rules, taking turns, healthy competition, and strategy. Plus they are fun. There are games for every age and interest. We all love game nights.
Game nights can also involve multiple generations and everyone benefits!
Other Activities to Enrich a Child’s Life
There are so many things you can do with a child to enrich their life beyond what I’ve listed above.
Here are some other ideas: Music, science, cooking, math, sewing, gardening, and other outdoors activities.
The key to providing enriching activities is that you participate in them. One of the great benefits is that not only does it enrich the child’s life; it enriches yours!
So, if you can’t already tell, I’m kind of a kid at heart and I enjoy these activities too.
But as someone who has worked with children and in the education system, I can also tell you that these things matter. Spending time with children in enrichment activities does make a difference in their lives.
And it makes a difference in YOURS too.
Keep showing up my friends,
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