Do your kids constantly complain that they’re bored? Or do you never hear from them because they spend all their time playing video games or watching TV? You remember playing outside, so why can’t your kids?
With all the distractions of the modern world, it’s difficult for kids to engage in “imaginative play.” Imaginative play is the kind of unstructured role playing you used to do when you were young—pretending you were a pirate, princess or police officer. Imaginative play helps your child practice social skills and understand a complicated adult world.
We often overlook creativity as well. Encouraging your child to write, read, draw or paint helps their self-confidence. Children who engage in creative activities tend to express their emotions with maturity and are more independent in general.
So how can you inspire creativity and imagination in your children again? The answer may be just outside of your home: your patio.
Your patio is where you relax and entertain in the evening. But during the day, it can become your child’s safe and engaging playground. The possibilities for playtime are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started.
Kids is this age range are just starting to assert themselves in this world. They want to do everything all by themselves. However, this age range still needs supervision and direction. Which means that activities should be a little fun for you, too.
For younger children, physical and sensory play reigns supreme. Set up a mobile sandbox in a kiddie pool. Hide toys in there, and your child is suddenly an archaeologist! Set up a chalkboard, and watch your child learn to draw what he or she sees.
Your patio is also the ideal area for messier activities, like painting and playing with salt dough. Set up a kid-sized bench or table to encourage your toddler to spend more time on the patio. You can even install a swing for hours of fun.
Depending on the activity and the maturity of your kids, this age group needs less supervision. This not only lets you get chores or work done but also allows your child more practice with making decisions.
At this age, the key is setting up a creative space. Help your child build a bird feeder and encourage them to draw or paint the birds that visit. Use a low table to set up a painting or crafts area, stocked with pencils, paper and glue. Set up a cosy corner with pillows for reading. If you build it, they will play.
This age is a social age. Your children will want to have a cool place to invite their friends. Your patio can be the place where they develop social skills and close friendships. It’s also when children learn about responsibility.
A small table stocked with cards and a few board games on a shelf will go a long way with your kids. Leave some old sheets and rope for fort building. Put a toy microscope outside so they can see new things. You can also help your child plant flowers or vegetables like peas or beans to care for.
Of course, many of these ideas can work for children of all ages. After all, most kids love chalk and bubbles. Choose activities based on your child’s interests and maturity level.
Make your patio the place in your home where your kids can go outside and play. With the right materials, you will make your patio a place where magic happens. With a little help from you, your kids can enjoy this space and you can rest easy knowing they’re playing and growing.
Call your local patio company for ideas on how you can incorporate swings, benches, shelves or planters into your new kid-friendly patio.