Fall is finally here! It’s a busy season for many families, but the last few months before winter sets in are packed with lots of chances to connect with your kids and have fun together. Here are 8 ideas to do with your child this fall to bond with them and boost their development at the same time.
Whether you plan special family vacations or fill your autumn days with close-to-home activities, it’s often the simple things you do with your children that make the best memories (and teach them important new skills).
8 Ideas to Do With Your Child This Fall
#1 Get Outdoors As Often As Possible
As the summer heat gives way to cool autumn breezes, celebrate the gorgeous weather with outdoor activities that give your child’s motor skills a pick-me-up. These ideas to do with your child this fall with boosts your child’s development and your parent-child bond.
Choose activities that involve both gross motor skills (running, hopping, climbing, catching) and fine motor skills (grasping tools, digging, stacking). Rake leaves together and leap over and into the piles. Make an outdoor adventure path or obstacle course for children to follow.
Go on a neighborhood nature walk, collect little things in a pail, and help your child sort them into groups: separate big rocks from little rocks, rocks from leaves, red leaves from yellow leaves.
#2 Give Your Child Day Jobs
When the excitement of summer is over and older siblings have gone off to school, younger kids will love to have their own daytime jobs that make them feel important and needed. Here are some ideas to do with your child this fall.
To boost their confidence and help strengthen their social and motor skills, select age-appropriate jobs for them. Toddlers can take on the table-wiping duty and help you sweep up the floor. Older children can prepare their own snack, fold laundry, and set the table for dinner.
Children who especially enjoy having jobs might also like to have a pretend office in a corner of your home where they can make calls with a toy phone. Allow your child to write letters and “send” them in envelopes. Better yet, let them type important emails with an old keyboard.
#3 Create a Fall Book
For families who love celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday together, this skill-boosting activity can be a sweet way to help your child honor the family members and friends they’re thankful for. Help your child make their own book of all the special people in their life.
Print out photos of family members and friends. Let your child arrange and glue them onto sturdy sheets of paper. Help them staple the pages together or tie them with ribbon. Give them supplies they can use to decorate the book: glitter pens, sequins, stickers, bits of shiny paper, pictures cut from old greeting cards and magazines.
When your child is done, look at the book together. Talk about the special people in the photos and why you’re thankful for them. (You may even want to bring the book to Thanksgiving dinner and share it!)
Not only will this book be a cherished memento, but it’ll also help your child strengthen fine motor, communication, social-emotional, and problem-solving skills.
#4 Go Someplace New Together
This fall, plan at least one special trip to a place that’s brand-new for your child. Your outing doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. There are lots of places you can explore for free or for a small fee. Attend a community harvest festival, go apple-picking together, spend a beautiful day enjoying a new hiking trail or park, or attend an event at a library you’ve never been to before.
To strengthen your child’s communication skills, plan the outing together ahead of time. On the way, talk about the things you’ll be seeing and doing together.
On the way home, ask questions about what your child did and what their favorite parts were. Encourage them to tell other family members about your day and share photos from the trip.
#5 Use Skill Boosting Games
With just a dash of creativity, your errands can be learning experiences that enrich your child’s communication and problem-solving skills. While waiting at a bus stop, read signs together or make up funny nonsense phrases. Then see if your child can repeat them back.
At the store, have your child search for specific letters and numbers on signs and labels. Put pictures of things you’ll be shopping for in an envelope. Then, have your child pull out the images to remind you of what you need.
As you’re driving, ask your child to count all the blue cars, animals, or tall things that pass by. Errands will go faster when you’re both having fun, and your child will pick up new skills as a bonus!
#6 Talk About Your Day At the Dinner Table
Family dinners are a great way to help your kids develop social-emotional and communication skills. This fall, gather the whole family around the table for dinnertime. Let each family member take turns talking about their day at work, at school, or in the community.
Avoid asking questions with “yes” or “no” answers; instead, ask each person at the table open-ended questions: “What was the best thing that happened today?” “What made you laugh today?” For more ideas on what to do with your child this fall, how about showing them you love them or making them laugh?
For more social-emotional skill-boosters for children ages 2 months through 5 years, print these free ASQ:SE-2 activity sheets.
#7 Read With Your Child Every Night
On chilly fall evenings, snuggle up for some shared reading. One of the single most important activities you can do with a young child is read. Not only is it a wonderful way to bond and relax together, but it also strengthens your child’s communication and language skills. Ultimately, it sets the stage for early literacy development.
Choose some autumn-themed books and engage your child while you read. Ask them what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Have the child act out the story with you and pretend to be different characters.
Support social-emotional skills by reading books about feelings and talking with your child about the story: “Lion got really mad in this story. Do you feel mad sometimes? What makes you feel better when you get mad?”
#8 Do A Quick Check of Your Child’s Milestones
One of the most important ideas you can do with your child this fall is to check to see if your child’s overall developmental skills are on track in all the areas mentioned in this article. You can do that for free in about fifteen minutes or less.
Fill out an online ASQ questionnaire. See what your child’s biggest strengths are. Uncover new milestones to celebrate, and reveal any areas where your child may need extra support.
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