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7 ways to keep the kids busy after school

Most parents will agree that a six-hour school day doesn’t provide nearly enough stimulation for most children. So when they burst through the door each evening, other than the TV or the Xbox - what else can you do to keep your kids occupied? (So you can relax a little more after your long day)

1. Get the homework out of the way

Grandad in red checked shirt helping grandson in yellow top finish his homework

They may try to avoid it, but getting the kids to do their homework as soon as they're home will not only keep them occupied, but it's a great habit to get into for later in life. It may be worth setting a new homework rule - that they can only enjoy the 'fun stuff' once it’s taken care of.

If they’ve got a longer deadline, then split the task into smaller chunks so that they can chip away at it each evening. 

Top tip - turn homework into a game! 
If you have some time to spare, why not make homework less of a chore by turning it into a game? Your children may hate learning their spellings the conventional way, but if they learn them by playing a classic game like 'Hangman', then not only are they more likely to be interested in doing their homework, but they will look forward to next weeks list too!

2. Playing 'Restaurants'

A young boy and girl cooking food in the kitchen wearing chefs hats

Playing restaurants is a great way to keep the kids busy, plus - the skills they’ll pick up from playing with food are sure to come in handy when they get a little older.

Keep it fun by asking them to help devise the menu, and keep it educational by introducing a new ingredient each time, or explaining why certain foods are good for them - Everyone knows carrots help you see in the dark, right?

Obviously, some common sense is required here; supervise children at all times whenever they’re in the kitchen, and don’t allow younger children to wield knives (or anything sharp) and certainly nothing hot. 

2. Share a love of gardening

Young boy in white top and red jeans planting vegetables in the garden

If you’re growing your own fruit and veg in the garden, then why not get them involved! It'll make eating fruit and veg less 'icky' at mealtimes (after all, if your kids have helped to grow the plants that they’re cooking, then mealtime will become all the more interesting). 

Get them a miniature watering-can and give them sole responsibility for a small patch of your garden. You can give them a hand in planting the seeds (and in eating the results!).

3. Learn how to play a musical instrument

Young boy with blonde hair wearing a red striped top playing a piano

Learning a musical instrument does require setting aside a little bit of time each evening for practice, but with a little encouragement, you could have a musical maestro on your hands. 

Children’s musical instruments vary in price, but in most cases, you don’t have to spend too much money on an entry-level instrument.

Top tip: If your walls are thin, or you’d rather have a quiet life, then go for something electric that can be paired with headphones.

Not sure which instrument to try? The BBC has a handy quiz that will suggest an appropriate instrument based on your personality traits - after-all, if an instrument is more suited to your child, they are more likely to stick with it.

4. Design a comic strip

Young boy designing a comic strip with pens in family kitchen wearing a blue striped top while mom in red checked top works next to him on laptop

Drawing and writing are essential skills to develop – and creating a three-panel comic strip allows children to bring them both together. Creative children will have great fun coming up with weird and wonderful characters, and who knows, they could become the next Stan Lee!

If they need a little encouragement why not suggest they turn themselves and their friends into a comic, and tell you about their day? 

5. Pick an after-school sport

Girl in red striped swimming costume and red googles in pool at after school club

Find a sport that the kids will enjoy, and they’ll soon get their required exercise each week for the sheer fun of it. There's so much choice out there too - whether it's swimming lessons, learning a martial art like Taekwondo, sailing or even rock climbing! Unicef has a great list to inspire here.

Instilling a love for exercise will keep them healthy for life – and it’ll stop them from releasing their pent-up energies by running laps around the living room.

6. Let them be dramatic

Three young children wearing brightly coloured tops holding scripts at a drama group

If left to their own devices, many children will find themselves pretending to be someone (or something) else. Ask your budding Shakespeare to write a short play, and get the family into the lounge in order to watch the performance.

If they enjoy themselves, you might consider signing them up at a local theatre group. If you’ve got older children with a penchant for improvisational storytelling, you might consider table-top games like Dungeons and Dragons.

7. Recycling crafts

Young boy with long brown hair wearing a red top doing arts and crafts with recycled items

The average household puts out a steady stream of toilet-roll-tubes, cardboard boxes and plastic washing-up liquid bottles - which could instead become your child’s next crafts project!

Lend them a little help gluing things together, and you can create spaceships, pirate galleons, fairy-tale castles and just about everything else. This is an affordable way to let your children’s imagination loose in the evenings – and it’s one that might well lead to more elaborate modeling and engineering projects in the future!

Do you have a great way to keep the kids busy? Share it with us in the comments below...