Six simple ways to be a Hands-On Parent!

Every parent wants what’s best for their child and so, ask any parent if they strive to be ‘hands-on’, and the answer is more often than not a resounding “Yes!”

But equally ask many parents ‘how’ they achieve this and the answers will vary significantly. In our fast-paced modern world, where parents are bombarded with information on how they should/shouldn’t parent it can be easy to loose sight of the simple and find a way to define what being hands-on actually looks like within Australian homes.

To answer this question is necessary to define the term ‘Hands-On’ in relation to learning, children and parents.

Being a ‘hands-on child’, is all about the natural exploration by a child of the world around them and all the sensory delights it has to offer. Learning is an outcome of this exploration.

Being a ‘hands-on parent’ means being ‘engaged’ rather than just ‘involved’ in your child’s learning. 

But what does this look like on a practical and achievable level for parents within their very own home?

Below you will find 6x ways to be ‘engaged’ with your child and ‘Be a Hands-On Parent’.

1. Let your child lead

Practise O.W.L.

Observe - Look for what your child is interested in or engaging with
Wait - Give them time to initiate play, or give a comment/gesture
Listen -Listen to ‘what’ they might be saying rather than ‘how’.

2. Talk, Talk, Talk

Parrot your child and they will parrot you!

Oral language is vital for children’s language development. Remember to talk to your children through out the day. If they miss pronounce something try not to correct them, instead model the correct language by repeating their meaning back to them. For example, if a young child says ‘Last day, I runned all round the park’, you can respond with “Yesterday, you ran all around the park? Wow!” The child’s feels validation that you have engaged in the communication that they have initiated and motivated to continue the exchange.

3. Play and have fun

Giggles and Laughter are an important part of childhood and building the bond you share with your child. Play is considered the pillar upon which children build knowledge. So channel your inner child and surprise your child with a funny voice or a silly dance.

4. Connect to past generations

Family and traditions play an important role in developing a child’s sense of self and their place in the world. Try telling your child a story from when you were young or print up photos of family for the fridge. You could even ask a grandparent, grand friend or other relative to teach the kids a rhyme or song from when they were young.

5. Imagine

Imaginary play and language development are considered to go hand-in-hand. It is also a way for children to make sense of the world around them as they play out different scenarios. Think role-play, dress-ups, puppet shows, playing doctor, playing teacher etc. Whenever you are ‘playing’ with your kids try and think outside the box… what else could an item be? For example: a tissue box can be a phone, a shoe, a hammer on the end of the hand, a hat, a treasure chest, an animal (with the opening its mouth).

6. Engage with the senses

As adults we block out a lot of the sensory delights around us, because we are so used to them. But try looking at the world through your child’s eyes and help them explore and label all the facets of an experience. For example sand can be hot, cold, hard, soft, crunchy, wet, dry, course, smooth. You can scoop it, sprinkle it, let it sift through your hand, pat it into a shape, blow it and even rub it gently on your skin.

Try incorporating these into your everyday, help your little one be a hands-on child, truly be a hands-on parent and make your house a Hands-On House.

Remember a parent is a child’s first teacher. So have fun learning together!

Rachel Keeling
Founder of Hands-On Head

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