“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he or she learned in school. It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education. ”
– Albert Einstein
The above-mentioned quote defines the limitations of the school system in the current society and emphasizes the requirement of learning beyond schools. The school is definitely important to provide certain fundamental skills and discipline to kids, it just doesn’t seem enough especially in the present and future scenario. A good afterschool program can turn the aimless hours after school into productive learning time. That’s a big benefit, especially for kids who learn and think differently.
Why After School Activities?
Research by “This is Afterschool” reveals that 50 % of students in various afterschool programs were able to improve their math and learning skills, 68 % of kids improved their homework completion and classroom participation. More than 70 % of kids who were enrolled in STEM and game-based programs showed an increase in their interest in knowing about careers in science and they also showed remarkable improvement in their critical thinking and problem-solving.
As many experts suggest, kids realize how fascinating it is to become a scientist or a mathematician when they get the opportunity to have hands-on or inquiry-based learning.. In addition to the obvious benefits, they are able to have fun with the learning since it is not a compulsive and formal setting like schools. It helps kids to learn freely and feel belongingness with the learning process.
Although there are many after school programs around these days, there are many ways through which you can engage with your kids at home. This will be an excellent exercise to utilize the extra energy of your kids left after school and improve your bonding with them.
Here are 11 super fun ways to engage your kids in their afterschool time to help them relax and enhance their cognitive growth.
1. Lego Hunt:
For this fun activity, you’ll need a pack of lego blocks and 4 pieces of paper matching the color of lego blocks. Keep the count of different color lego blocks and note it down somewhere. Place the 4 color papers in a row and then hide the lego blocks around the room while your kid has their eyes closed. Your kid now has to go around the room to find the lego blocks and place them on the matching color papers. The hunt goes on until all the lego blocks have been found and matched. Find out the time taken and provide the score accordingly. Next time ask your kids to beat their previous scores.
Lego Hunt is a great energy-burning activity for kids from preschool to elementary. It will also help your kids to become more alert and aware without putting too much pressure on their cognition.
2. Scavenger Hunt
No matter what age group, scavenger hunts are always fun. If you have young kids, we can make the hunt relatively simple. Just pick any 10 things at random in your house and make a list of those objects. Hide them in different corners in your house. Provide some hint about the location of the objects in front of them on the list. While doing it for the first time you can give them free time for as long as you are busy, your kids can stay engaged being James Bond. As you do it multiple times, set a time limit to make it a little more challenging and fast. For kids who are slightly older, you can make it a little more interesting and themes by creating a map to hunt the hidden gems or certain other valuable looking objects.
This is a great activity for all age groups to improve their ability to read symbols and signs while it obviously helps them improve their metacognition. You will just need to be careful with adjusting the difficulty according to the age group and initial attention span of your kids.
3. Obstacle Course
We have seen this activity so many times on television in the form of shows like American Ninja and other similar programs. This again is a perfect engagement for all age groups. You can create your own obstacle course anywhere in your house depending on how old your kid is. To begin with, you can use simple objects such as pillows, chairs, etc. to create them in any corner of one of your rooms. To take it one notch higher, you can use more complicated objects such as ladders, ropes, etc. to give it a more authentic feel. It would be great if you have a backyard with trees and grass but it would work just fine without it as well.
This activity is super engaging and particularly helpful for early ages since it develops the physical and motor skills as well as the focus of your kids. It is also a great way to build your kids’ confidence, and it’s tough to say no!
4. Lemon Volcanoes
If you are in a mood to tickle the scientist in your kid, this is a perfect way to do that. All you need is a little citric acid and some baking soda. Help your kid to make a small and simple model of a volcano with clay or dough and let them just mix the ingredients together. It is super fun for kids to watch the froth being generated while they mix the two chemicals together. It is full of froth and fun.
It is perfectly safe as these are quite commonly found chemicals in every household. It helps them see a glimpse of chemistry in action and develops their scientific curiosity and interest in science. It smells good too!
5. Toothpick Tower Earthquake
Do you want to see the engineer in your kid? Help them make a structure with toothpicks in this fun and engaging engineering session. Take a flat, preferably lightweight so that toothpicks can hold their weight. Take a pack of toothpicks and some clay dough and spread them on a table or floor or any other flat surface. Your kid has to use a minimum amount of clay and toothpicks to create any structure of their liking that can support the object without collapsing. You can make it a little challenging by giving more than one object to balance.
This activity is great for kids in primary or middle grades as it might be frustrating for preschoolers or elementary kids who have very little attention span and focus. This activity is a great way to develop problem-solving skills and increase their focus and patience. There are multiple ways they can do this activity which breaks the monotony of tasks and homework exercise.
6. Story in a Jar
If your kids love talking and you are willing to utilize it to improve their communication and narration skills, you can try this super creative activity. All you need is a glass jar with a wide mouth and a few chits of paper. Depending on the age and proficiency of your kid, place 10 chits with different words written on them. Ask your kid to pick any 5 chit randomly and make a story by combining the words written on them.
This activity is great for kids in primary and middle school. It can do wonders for improving their communication skills and their imagination. If you are willing to take it up one level higher, increase the audience size gradually to work on their confidence as well.
7. Make your own Movie
Are you worried about your kid spending too much time on screen? Well, why not utilize it instead of worrying. There are a number of easy to use software available online to edit movies. You can encourage them to make a movie using all the random pictures clicked over a week or you can give them a simple theme and they can go around and make a small movie.
It is a very appropriate activity for middle schoolers or even for primary grade kids. It will help them enhance their creativity. Instead of wasting their time watching videos online, they can make their own movie. Who knows, they might bring the oscar tomorrow!
8. 3 marker Challenge
Are you in a mood to have a colorful time with your kids? You can try a 3 marker challenge to bring out the artist in your kids. All you need is a set of different color markers. Ask your kids to pick any 3 markers randomly. Set a time frame and ask them to color one complete sheet with those 3 colors. You do the same and see who is the better artist.
This is a very fun and engaging activity for kids in preschool to higher age groups. Since there is no definite task, it is very easy to go-to an activity. Apart from enhancing their creative self, this activity is very helpful in reducing any kind of stress or low mood in kids as well as adults. It is a colorful wonder.
9. Homework Tickets
If you are finding it difficult to get your kids to complete their homework on time, this might be your solution. All you need is a few chits of papers with some design work from your end. Make some stickers as different reward points. Depending on how fast or how much homework your kids complete, they can get various reward stickers which may include screen time, gifts, playtime, visit their favorite places, etc.
This a great reinforcement trick that works best with elementary and primary grade kids. The constant simple rewards provide them with a feeling of accomplishment. The encouraging environment to finish their tasks on time helps them stay stress-free. A win-win for both of you!
10. Create on Your Own with Bunchems
In a mood to help your kid lift up their mood and get the creative juices flowing? You will just have to go online and get them some bunchems. Bunchems are colorful little balls that magically bunch together and they can help your kid to create pretty much anything they might dream of. For very young kids it is particularly engaging while they keep sticking and unsticking them together. For elementary kids, it is a great way to make various things they like without too much hassle.
Just hand them a bunch of bunchem and leave them with their creativity. It is great for elementary kids as it allows them to create so many different things without testing their patience. For these activities, they don’t need your help so you can finish off with any work you have while they make their little dreams come true with bunchems!
11. Game-Based Learning:
Board games and activities can be a wonderful way to engage your child creatively and can help you to bond with them better. Board games require communication, it provides the opportunity to use multiple approaches to reach goals. Well developed board games have a number of smaller and larger goals which provides several chances to win or get ahead. All these traits help in developing a number of important skills such as communication, problem-solving, and creativity.
There are a number of educational and fun board games that can be very beneficial for developing creativity in your children. One of them is NEMBO which is a pack of 16 different games based on different math concepts for 10 to 12 years old kids. They can be particularly helpful in strengthening their math skills in addition to the obvious skills that board games help in developing.
These activities may appear as merely play and fun but they are a lot more than that. In order to have a better understanding of things that are taught in the school, kids must parallelly develop cognitive abilities and agility. These activities develop motor skills, focus, attention, problem-solving, creativity, communication. These are essential 21st-century skills which also help them grasp whatever is taught in school easily and in turn, it obviously boosts their academic performance. If you are worried about the test scores, don’t be. Use this super fun and engaging activities to boost up your kid’s overall growth and remove anxiety if any related to their studies.