National Families Week is May 15 to 21, but at Wagga Wagga Community Health Centre every week is family week. The most important tool a child has, the most important toy or gadget or friend or teacher, is a parent.
This week, challenge yourself every day to find at least one activity where you, the parent, is the entertainment, and where all the fun comes from a family interaction. Here are some ideas:
Make a silly sandwich: Let your child choose anything to go on it - carrots, pickles, Vegemite, even leftover Easter eggs! Use words like first, next, then and last when putting on ingredients. Take a bite! Talk with your child about whether it's crunchy or sloppy, salty or sweet.
'Read' a book - without words: Before children are in school, books are important for building verbal language rather than reading or writing skills.
Pick a book with vivid and detailed pictures. Make up your own story based on the pictures, or let your child make up the story. Ask questions like what can you see, what do you think will happen next, or why is he cranky?
Play around with your favourite song: While children love familiar songs, it's also hilarious when unexpected things happen. Change up the words and step outside of the box. Old Macdonald Had a Farm or The Wheels on the Bus: pick objects you can see, and imagine them on the farm or bus. Decide what noise or action they might make, such as a door (with a "knock knock" here and a "knock knock" there).
Galumph Went the Little Green Frog: make up silly noises other animals might sing - did you know that pigs really go 'honky tonky tonk'?
Use routines: Short on time? While you're grocery shopping, why don't you take turns pointing out all the things you can see that are red? Play Simon says with instructions for setting the table or getting dressed. Talk about what your food tastes, smells, feels and sounds (when chewing) like at the dinner table.
Most of all, be positive and encouraging. Fill your family with laughs, language and love.