Hi there, this may be the wrong spot to post this so please let me know if there is a better forum for this. I am at home - I have two children - they both go to a public school - one for half a day and one for a full day. I also look after 2 children afterschool - for about 2 hours. They don't seem to want to do much of anything afterschool but be free. We have been going to the park for 1 hr and then back to our house for the rest of the time. I usually have a table activity going or they just play. By the end of the time though they are all on each others nerves and someone is usually crying. Please give me some ideas to do with them so that they are busy and having fun.
How old are the kids? That really makes a difference in what they will enjoy.
Some things they might enjoy, with a little structure so they aren't bored and pestering each other:
Jacks, marbles, jump ropes, hula hoops, sidewalk chalk hopscotch
Some kind of art toy like tangrams or a tile set or a felt board; blocks
Handpuppets and a puppet theater
Have theme days -- water play Mondays, cooking Wednesdays, circus Fridays ... (they can "tame" stuffed animals, or have a stick horse rodeo, or make clown paper-bag puppets, or do face-paint, or practice gymnastics and yoga for their circus acts, a different activity every week)
After being in school all day (or even half the day) maybe they just need unstructured playtime. If you worked in an office all day would you want to come home to paperwork and a computer at a desk in your living room? Giving them free time or time to just sit around and do nothing could be the best thing for them and will give them a transition to family time. Not every minute needs to be planned and organized, kids will make their own fun.
Moved from Learning at Home and Beyond to Parenting.
in a day care planer i saw it suggested for the 3-6 after schooler to work something like this:
1 hour of outside time
come inside and do free play while you set up
do a fun crafty project
more free play
________________ then maybe?______________
prep dinner ( with kids)
chill time - movie? or quite games / reading
bed time stuff
reading to / reading
I'd focus on recognizing the signals that the "crash" is imminent and finding ways the children can learn to take care of the bad feelings themselves, before the squabbling sets in.
Do you have an attractive and comforting space, like a pop up tent or a pile of cushions where a child could go to be alone with a book or cd player if s/he's had enough of others? I would designate an "alone spot" for each child that each child could go to if s/he needed down time. Books on cd from the library are something my son loves for times like those. You can get multiple copies of the book if more than one child wants to follow along.
Something sensory like playdough or washing paintpots in the sink can be very soothing.
I found that when I had after school kids till 6 pm, they had one snack right after school and still needed another snack at about 5:40 pm or there would be a really nasty blood sugar crash. I tried to serve a veggie platter with dip and water or milk, so as to get something healthy into them that wouldn't conflict too much with whatever mom and dad had planned for dinner. for the second snack.
If weather permits, can you head back outside for the last 10 minutes before pickup?
My best 'go-to' strategy is playdough. It's cheap if you make it yourself. You can get a piece of dowling and cut it in 5 inch lengths for rolling pins. I usually just make one or two colours and I don't care if they get mixed. Playdough will occupy kids of many ages for a long time.
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