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What Should We Play?

Engaging Kids

Finding the right activity means finding the right level of challenge for your child. Kids will play just about anything so long as it's not too easy (boring) and not too hard (frustrating). So the first step is to adjust the play to what they CAN DO right now, then bit by bit, adapt it to their growing abilities and interest level. This simple approach keeps them engaged in the play, and of course, pride in a job well done.


Here are six quick ways to ramp up the fun without the frustration. We call them The Six Ds. To increase the level of challenge, start by adding one D at a time. As they master each new level, change or add another D. Similarly, if they are struggling with an activity, tamp down the level of challenge using the same Six Ds.


And remember, your goal should always be FUN FIRST!


Young children tend to do things fast for the simple reason that fast is usually easier. To increase challenge, encourage children to slow down. Ask, “How slow can you go?” Along those same lines, call out “Freeze.” The ability to stop and hold a pose challenges their listening skills, physical abilities, and emotional self-control.



The same activity can be easy or challenging depending on how far away the goal is. Solution: move the goalposts to keep the game fun and challenging.



Forward movement is the most natural movement, of course. When a child needs extra challenge, have them try the same movement using their body in different ways. For instance, when walking on a line, try walking sideways or backwards. Instead of a straight race course, add zigzags or patterns to encourage moving in different directions.



In the early years, using both the right and left sides of the body is important to balanced development. Encourage the use of both hands and feet.



Doing activities for shorter or longer periods of time builds stamina and provides necessary repetition for movement to be automated. Of course, if they are showing signs of fatigue, cut the time short and come back to it another time.



To add challenge to an activity, change up the terrain or gradient. For example, if they're running on a smooth, level surface, challenge them to run up a hill. Add obstacles in their path or give them something to carry or balance as they move.


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In a Flash

Dim the lights and turn on a flashlight. Shine it on the floor. Have your child to jump on the light when it stops. Count to 5 before you move it to the next spot. Take turns being the flashlight operator.

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An at a glance guide.


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Top 10 Activities on the Playground.


And there's more...

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