Family fun for under $5.00
Public Library (Cost: Free)
People frequently underestimate the value of reading to their children. Not only does it help to improve a child’s literacy skills it also helps to encourage a love of learning which can help your child to be more successful in school. Reading can help to stimulate your child’s mind by encouraging imagination and creativity which have been linked to increased IQs. The public library system can provide a great deal of fun and help us, as parents, to get back in touch with our children’s dreams, likes, and interests. The only cost is gas, parking, and late fees – so be sure to teach your children about responsibility by getting your materials back on time.
State Parks (Cost: Free)
If you are lucky enough, as we are, to live in Arkansas, you are no doubt aware of all the wonders nature has to offer. Taking a family trip to a state park can provide hours, and sometimes days, of enjoyment. With options such as playgrounds, hiking trails, swimming areas, campgrounds, climbing, and the list just keeps going on; you would be hard pressed to find any other outings which can teach and engage your children quite so well. Be sure to check for special event on the Arkansas State Parks Website (http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/) for other special activities such as art & crafts, carnivals, professional demonstrations, etc. Please be sure to keep our parks clean to ensure future generations can enjoy them and to teach your children the value of conservation.
Family Game Night (Cost: $5.00)
Many parents forget about the simple joy of playing board games or cards because they seem so… well … simple. Chances are you still have remnants of your youth in the form of old games from your childhood sitting in a closet collecting dust as we speak. Monopoly, Clue, Life, Checkers, just to name a few, are all sitting around just waiting to be played. Why not share these treasures of a bygone era with your children and let them experience the thrill of making and spending money or catching the bad guy without ever turning on the television set or computer monitor. All you need is some snacks, sandwiches and drinks and your set for the evening. This is a great way to teach your children about the concepts of fair play, taking turns, and strategy, not to mention all the opportunities to learn about their day and show them that you’re never too busy to spend some time with them. Play is the natural communication style of children, especially young children and you might be surprised by what all you find out if you engage them through their natural tongue. Watch for form information on specific games and life lessons you can use in your home on our website. (http://www.nashtherapy.net/)
Catch a flick (Cost: $2.00)
While I don’t often advocate for the frequent mind-numbing experience of watching television for hours on end; it can be useful for a family to sit down together to watch a show, especially if the show has teachable principles or life skills that a parent can talk to their children about. Visual media can stimulate the brain in more effectively than other activities and if used successfully, can be helpful in bridging the gap with teens. Parents should be especially careful about using visual media with young children, as there have been coalitions shown to exist between increased television usage and increased inattentiveness. With that said, I’ve always enjoyed a good Andy Griffith episode – don’t be surprised if your child does too.