How to entertain a child on the road
Age and road entertainment
Only newborn and children not older than 3 months do not need any entertainment since at that age they only eat and sleep. All the rest require attention and entertainment, especially when on the road. The longer the trip, the more interesting the entertainment. This article describes helpful tips on how to entertain babies, toddlers, preschoolers, young school children and teenagers who travel by car.
Entertainment for babies
Children of that age spend most of the time sleeping. Nevertheless, they stay awake from half an hour and up to 3-4 hours and still need entertainment just like older children.
First of all, babies aged up to 6 months always travel in child seats (i.e. in lying position) and in child restraints (in a reclining posture). In these positions, they can only examine and touch the objects that are hanging on the top or look at the pictures that adults show them.
Nowadays the hanging objects (arcs, slings, educational toys) can produce different sounds and flash. It helps to develop child’s senses and enrich his impressions. Thus, it will help you to attract his attention for a few minutes. However, we recommend you to change toys from time to time for him not to lose interest. A child can also listen to melodic songs or lullabies.
Entertainment for toddlers
A child aged 1-3 years is such a tomboy. He likes to move actively and examine the world around. Thus, hold yourself ready for stopping over every 2-3 hours to let your child run and jump — with a ball, after a toy or even run a race with adults. In most cases, during a car trip, your child will sleep, have a bite and play educational games. The latter includes everything that can attract child’s attention and make his journey interesting and useful.
In the early childhood kids actively accumulate impressions. First of all, these are sensory perception and experience — colour, form, and size of the objects as well as their properties. Let the child practice it as often as possible. Examine the pencils and call their colour (four basic colours will be enough if your child is not older than a year and a half). Then you can teach him additional colours — orange, brown, black, white, violet, etc. Inflate the balloons and ask your child to show which one is small and which one is big, which one is bigger and which one is smaller. Inlay with large mosaic to emphasize the shape of objects (square, round), etc.
The simplest solution is to give a child a tablet PC or a laptop to watch cartoons. However, in 20-30 minutes he will get bored. Then, let’s keep his hands busy. During the third year of life, children sculpture eagerly. Today clay does not dirty hands, that’s why you can take it for the journey. Let’s start with the simplest things — build elements in the form of a sausage (direct motion of hands) and small balls (round motion of hands). Then ask a child to call the colour and the size of these elements (big – small), the length (long or short). When you already have a lot of “sausage-like” elements, you can build a fence, a house, a path. Leave a few balls to build a tumbler, a snowman, etc. It is quite important to keep your child’s artwork and praise him even if he makes mistakes.
Another lovely idea is to take handbooks with lacing. Little fingers are still hard to move, but, nevertheless, a child should learn how to do up laces. The same way you can teach your child to do and undo the buttons.
However, in most cases, reading is the best way to entertain a child. A colourful book with large pictures works like magic, especially if an adult reads it. Take your child’s favourite books (e.g. nursery rhymes, such tales as “The Little Round Bun”, “The Little Wooden House”, “The Ryaba Hen”, etc), or Barto’s poems (“Toys” cycle).
Stickers…Oh, what a magic word! If you have a copybook with stickers, leave your child alone and take a rest. By the way, it is very important for a child to spend some time alone (even if his mother is sitting nearby!). It helps him to develop mentally, learn how to make decisions and understand his wishes. Far from a sandpit when there are no tinker toys, a child may find it hard to invent a game. Thus, stickers will help you to solve this problem.
How to entertain a preschooler
Children aged 3 to 6 (7) years systemize knowledge about the world and can carry out various tasks without changing an activity for 20-25 minutes.
Entertainment for preschoolers may include:
- reading books (or listening to the audio recordings);
- watching movies and cartoons;
- clay modeling, drawing with pencils, crayons, and markers;
- doing a puzzle;
- inflating air balloons;
- playing checkers, chess, domino, sea-fight;
- oral games like:
“Guess an object”
The principle of this game is to guess the word by answering “yes/no questions”. For instance, “Is this object yellow?” — “yes”. “Is this object round?” — “no”. If a child guesses the riddle, take turns.
“The first letter”
You can choose a letter and ask a child to call as many objects starting with this letter as possible. Let a child find these objects outside the car window.
Children like these games very much. Child’s imagination will give surprising answers to ordinary questions. “From what do cats jump?” “From the floor”. Answers usually provoke laughter and joy.
Train your memory. The first player pronounces a short phrase. For example, “I went for a walk and in the street found…”. The second player completes this phrase with a word. The next one repeats the whole phrase and adds his own new word. The winner is the one who repeats the whole word string for a longer time.
Take turns to find synonyms to the given word. The winner is the one who has proposed as many synonyms as possible.
We recommend you to have the “prizes” for the winners. These can be sweets, candied fruits, etc.
Do not forget to take a ball, a skipping rope, badminton rackets and birds to play during stops.
Young school children on the road
Children of that age, despite their independence, if compared to the preschoolers, still need a company of adults.
These children prefer quizzes, crosswords, logic tasks. That can be interesting even for the elder brothers and sisters. Crosswords help to kill the time and, of course, use your brains. If you do a crossword as a family, this turns into a real team game! And don’t forget to take a book with funny tasks. Your child will be busy dealing with these tasks for at least half an hour.
We also recommend you to take various gadgets. Electronic and logic games, tablet PCs for drawing, other compact and user-friendly devices should not be neglected.
How to entertain a teenager
A teenager already has his own preferences in a way he spends his free time. Most of the time he will sit keeping hold of his smartphone. However, you can invite him to play chess, checkers, domino, charades, lotto, etc. In everyday life teenagers and parents don’t have enough time to communicate with each other. Show your child that when the whole family gathers together it brings joy and happiness and allows to compete, argue, teaches how to hold a constructive discussion, etc. There should be no place for compulsion, moral teaching, etc. Keep in mind that rest means rest for everyone.
We hope these recommendations will make even a longer journey by car pleasant and trouble-free. Have a safe trip and do not forget to apply for the International Driving Permit beforehand!