Making the most of snow days with the kids

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- AccuWeather says a big snow and high winds are on the way.

You and the kids are likely going to be cooped up for much of the weekend.

How do you keep boredom and sibling snarking away and turn it into quality time?

Action News gathered suggestions from local experts on kids on how to make this weekend fun, yet constructive.

Right off the bat, neuropsychologist Sarah Allen, Ph.D., of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine says, Keep a Routine.

Dr. Allen says most families run on schedules, and need them to keep order.

A snow day schedule helps you and the kids know what to expect.

She suggests starting with times for meals, activities, snacks and even nap or quiet time, and then filling in from there.

Dr. Allen and her PCOM colleague, school psychologist Jessica Kendorski, recommend activities which encourage creativity, such as scavenger hunts inside or outside, building a snow family (Why just do one snowman?), or making a homemade volcano.

Or, "Take some washable paint, a sponge, and your ideas to the bathtub and see what happens!" says Dr. Allen.

She says you can also pick a theme for the day.

"Be pirates and build a ship out of the couch. Play dress up and research where pirates sailed," she recommends.

She notes theme days allow your older children to get involved in teaching younger ones what they know.

The Devereux Center for Resilient Children says snow days are good ones to involve your child in the household duties.

It may seem easier to make lunches, do laundry, and shovel snow yourself, but involving them in daily routines demonstrates what goes into keeping a household running, and how daily routines can become quality time.

Dr. Kendorski says it's also important to let your child choose some activities for the day.

"These activities can include crafts, science projects, cooking something where the kids pick the ingredients, or researching a question on the internet," she notes.

Dr. Kendorski suggests tapping into kids' curiosity, such as where do snowflakes comes from?

Cooking also gets big thumbs up from Dr. Allen, who says it can "teach planning, creativity, science, and multi-tasking!"

"Have your kids pick their favorite ingredient in the house and build a recipe from it," she continues, and adds, "The act of failing could even teach them a lesson about perseverance (as well as what not to do next time)."

Experts at the Devereux Center say using snow days are a good time to create an "All About Me" book that builds a child's identity, and shows what makes them similar or different from others in their world.

The Center says snow days can provide wonderful opportunities to teach children important life lessons.

Invite your child to call on a neighbor who may be alone, helping shovel their driveway, bringing over hot chocolate, and spending time visiting.

Or invite a child you don't often play with out in the snow.

Show your children the value of helping others and talk about how it also helps us feel better about ourselves.

A prime suggestion from all of them: put down the screens and connect, play, and have meaningful conversations.

Get to know your children, and let them get to know you better.

"Social connections improve brain development and can even protect the brain from harm," says Dr. Allen.

And, they all say - take time to snuggle and love your kids.