Finding things for kids to do while you work at home can be a full-time job in itself—which is why a work-at-home parent's kids must learn to find their own things to do. Yet most children aren't born knowing how to entertain themselves; it takes practice.
Art projects can keep some kids occupied for hours. However, if this is to be an independent activity, children should be able to do most of the setup and clean up on their own. So, keep it simple! For younger children do projects that don't require cutting or you can do the cutting in advance. For the youngest kids, this might be as simple as coloring.
Though many kids younger than 8 can read, for reading to be an independent activity child have to get to a certain level of proficiency. However, there are many wordless or nearly wordless books that will engage kids of all ages and reading levels. And these are a great place to start because if you send a reluctant or struggling reader off to read something difficult while you work, you won't be instilling a love of books—quite the opposite.
If your kids are just not into books, don't give up. Try the next activity for kids to do while you work.
With audio-books, kids can learn to appreciate the art of storytelling before they can read. And kids who can read can expand their horizons. Those who are not strong readers can enjoy a good book. They still should do an actual reading at another time when you are available to help, but if a child struggles with reading, then while you are working is not the time for independent reading.
If you have a computer or tablet available to your kids during work hours, educational computer games impart a little learning and some fun at the same time. These games keep kids thinking and that keeps boredom at bay.
Consider setting a time limit in advance on electronic games, even educational ones, because kids can find it hard to disengage from their screens.
Sounds obvious, but any parent who's sifted through the toy box just after the holidays knows how quickly kids lose interest in their toys. Put away some toys for a period of time. When they come back into the rotation, they seem like new.
Board games, cards, construction toys, trains, play-sets, and puzzles are just a few of the good toys that can keep kids engaged for hours. But sometimes they have to be reminded of these toys.
This is not something you can mandate or count on, but when it happens, it's a beautiful thing. Younger kids are naturals at this, creating elaborate fantasies with stuffed animals or action figures. With older kids, you can encourage imagination by suggesting they produce a play or write a story.
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