32 answers

How Do I Schedule My Days So 4 Year Old Isn't Bored?

Hello, I need help so my 4 year old and I aren't bored! Any examples of your daily schedules would really help! I also have a 20 month old son. I play with her, but after 30 minutes of barbies, and I'm barbied out. She goes to preschool 2 mornings a week, so she's at least entertained during that time. She's very well behaved, but I can tell she's BORED. We also play card games like matching and go fish, but I need more variety, and some kind of schedule so we know what we're doing everyday. we run errands in the morning, but then during brothers' nap, we're both pretty bored. I need help organizing activities and activity ideas. Please help!

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If she likes crafts there are great free crafts online. dtlk-kids, or look up free crafts. Also I allow my 4 year old to play on the computer sometimes and that helps, if she has never used the computer you will be amazed at what she will be able to do. Nickjr.com under playtime is what I let my son use, it is very preschool oriented, also starfalls.com is excellent for abc and educational experience. I would suggest starting with starfalls- it has some great things for kids to play. My son loved starfalls until I introduced nickjr.

Also look up online free preschool activities...

1 mom found this helpful

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I did some Montessouri activities with my daughter when she was that age. I found two books that were great resources. They are

" Montessori Play And Learn: A Parent's Guide to Purposeful Play from Two to Six" by Lesley Britton

and

"Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years: The Pre-School Years" by Elizabeth G. Hainstock

1 mom found this helpful

If she likes crafts there are great free crafts online. dtlk-kids, or look up free crafts. Also I allow my 4 year old to play on the computer sometimes and that helps, if she has never used the computer you will be amazed at what she will be able to do. Nickjr.com under playtime is what I let my son use, it is very preschool oriented, also starfalls.com is excellent for abc and educational experience. I would suggest starting with starfalls- it has some great things for kids to play. My son loved starfalls until I introduced nickjr.

Also look up online free preschool activities...

1 mom found this helpful

It's really nice that you are a mother that spends so much hands-on time with your child. On the days when my daughter was at home and not in preschool we would get up, have breakfast and get ready for the day. Then she and her brother would have free playtime and plenty of times I would play with them, like Barbies, trains, puzzles, card games, music time....etc. Run errands as you need to in the morning or go to a local bookstore for storytime or go on an outing to the zoo. After lunchtime it is probably your son's naptime. A good thing to do during this time is to have your daughter in the room doing adult things with you. For example, my daughter always loved helping me in the kitchen....try baking cookies, or muffins or anything else like even getting dinner ready and setting the table and let her help. She'll love this and you can be teaching her math, measuring and kitchen safety, with her enjoying every minute of it. While you're paying bills, let her sit at the table with you and color. Do you ever do art projects? Try getting some paint sets...it's nice to have art time with little ones too, but sometimes it's good to let the older ones have more access to messy things that they can be responsible with. If you scrapbook, you can work on your projects while giving your daughter specially cut out shapes and papers, along with crayons and pens, and let her put together her own little projects. Try getting some books that are geared toward bigger kids and have special mommy-daughter storytime. This is also a good time for her to have some computer time....go to pbskids.org or disney.com for some fun, educational age-appropriate games while she's building computer skills. Or let her have some toys, like Polly Pockets, with pieces that are too little for her younger brother that you can keep high up away from him, but that she can play with and let her have quiet playtime by herself that's special big-girl time.

It's good that you want to be playing with her....but you don't need to entertain her ALL of the time. Let her come up with some things to do to entertain herself and you'd be surprised what new games are created! Especially on days when she's been at school, she's already done a lot of playing and had a lot of stimulation...these are probably days she'd be good having a quieter afternoon reading and snuggling with mommy. Plus, if you rotate what you do then you don't feel like you never get adult things done, and you don't get bored with activities because you don't feel like you do the same thing EVERY day, and your daughter will remember all of the fun and different things mommy always did with her when she was younger. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My four year old son and I do alot of art projects together when my baby is napping.
We also do some cooking. He likes measuring and putting in the ingredients with me. He also has alot of preschool books that include math and reading. He loves loves me to read books to him to.
Have you tried the computer web sight starfall.com? It is great for getting kids familiar with letters and reading. My son has had alot of fun with it.
Try a few things and see what works best for you and your child.

1 mom found this helpful

When my daughter was 4 (she's only 5 now), she really loved that time during her little sister's nap, because she had me all to herself. We would either color, paint, play with playdough. She also started scrapbooking with me. Well, I didn't do my books at the same time, but all my extra pictures she would use and make her own book, completely by herself. She is so proud of them. Also, she LOVED baking. Not that you can do that everyday, but one day we might bake cookies and another day bread or muffins. When the weather is nice, we'd head outside our house and draw with chalk, blow bubbles, kick soccer ball, play tennis, etc.

Our kids are about the same age. One thing I know kept my older daughter occupied when she was that age is making paper chains. She loved it and would sit for long periods of time putting them together. I just cut construction paper into long strips of paper and let her go at it. I haven't tried to have my current 4 yr old do this, but I keep thinking she is ready for it. (My other dd made these chains when she was 3). Anyway, it was something she could do alone while I got other things done.
I have liked the ideas some of the other moms have made. I admit I am very much in the same situation as you are. Even more so next year when my dd starts kindergarten. In fact, you have opened my eyes to some challenges I may face. Right now my dd has preschool in the afternoons while my son naps (3 days a week). In the mornings I ty to get to the fitness center so they play in the child care for an hour, then we go to the kids area for a while. When we get home we have a snack and then my son is pretty ready for a nap. Then my dd will either play with a friend, watch a video, play on PBS.org or Nickjr.com or just play with toys. While your son is napping it may be a good time to take your dauther out in the yard and play with a ball or lett her scooter arount the driveway. We do most of the things you mentioned (I totally get the barbie burn out). My dd loves to put puzzles together. You can find good puzzles at the Dollar Tree.

My four year old twin boys are in school ( a real school that starts at preschool, then jr. kindergarten, kindergarten & up through 8th grade. ) They are no longer bored, are toally socialized, can count to 33, know their letters, sounds, & numbers & can do very simple math, work on the computer & gets lots of exercise. It's been the best thing I've done for them. They were acting up & now are challenged during the day & love it. My daughter will start this fall at 3yo. I cannot wait!

I agree with Noelle. I keep my little one busy doing what I am doing so I can get things done, and she feels like she is helping. Then when we have down time we take turns for Nan time and then Mommy time. Kids shouldn't be entertained all the time. Studies have shown that this down time is when they learn to be ok on their own, play by themselves. Children who are over scheduled tend to be high strung with short attention spans. Good luck!

For me it is Dora, if I never play with Dora again, that would be ok!
After breakfast my daughter either watches a show, or plays on her own while I get ready for the day. The rest is just trying to entertain ourselves.
On Thursdays we go to the library for story time, we both love it. it gets us out of the house.
We try to do errands when needed, my daughter loves helpling me clean, so I indulge her. I get my stuff done and she is right there with me, "helping". (she is 3 by the way)
I do crafts and baking with her. We have playdough and books, we play house, with her pretend food. She also enjoys playing with shaving cream. I just squirt some on her plastic table and she has at it. It cleans up well and cleans the table at the same time.
After lunch is mom time and her time. She no longer naps but we still call it nap time. She goes to her room and is on her own. She plays great by herself. I have found that without this time, she can be really grumpy, she needs the "down" time.
As soon as it is nice, we are outside. I can't wait for spring. I am trying to meet people to start a play group and am also thinking about putting her in a dance class. Anything to help with the wiggles.
Oh yeah, turn on some music and dance!

Have you tried baking?

Hi L.,
I found involving my son in my day to day chores or activities works best. He always wants to help and thinks it's a game. For example:

7:30am breakfast
He helps me cook breakfast - gets all the ingredients, helps me cook, and helps clean up. Sometimes I even have him pick the ingredients and we cook with whatever he comes up with.

8:00am Time to get dressed for school
I call him my robot #1 and he acts like a robot. I ask robot #1 in a robotic voice to please pick out some clothes to get dressed for school. he walks like a robot, makes the sounds, and gets himself dressed.

On days he does not have school - I involve him wherever I can in my daily stuff. He helps me rake, do laundry (we play what color is it, how many bottons on the shirt, does it go on your head or your foot or your toe, etc...

I am a working Mom so we do just about everything together on the weekends and as long as he is my helper, he is never board. We play his games too (puzzles, coloring, playdo, etc...) but we also work together. It's a lot of fun.

Weekend schedule:
Morning -
TV for 30 minutes w/ breakfast
Family time - usually go on bike ride or go to the indoor kids pool for an hour. He loves it.
Lunch
Nap
AFter nap we go to the park and he plays for a good hour
relax time - he colors or plays by himself
dinner
After dinner we wrestle, hang out, read books
Bed time

He does have a few hours of alone time to play and as long as does more active stuff during the day, he is ok playing by himself.

Hope this helps!

Hi L.,
It depends on where you live and what you have at your disposal. If you are near a big city check in to the zoo, natural history museum, park activities, aquarium.... When my son was young I had memberships to several places, the kids never get bored, I went once a week to each one, met other moms there, great learning for the kids, interactive and they are tired when you are done. We would take picnic lunch to save money, the kids love that, they had more to talk about later and full of questions on what they have seen. If you don't live near a big city check into fishing, or hiking trails, you don't have to go far with kids your ages but they get out of the house and have fun. Generally as much outdoor activity gets them outside and into excercise which sets them up with good habits for the rest of their lives!
Have fun, good luck,
S.

Do you organize play dates for her? My 4 yr old daughter loves to play w/ other friends and then I can get things done too. Also, I put together cards for the alphabet and some with numbers on them and we play school with them. She loves it and she also loves to watch the Leap Frog videos "Letter Factory" and "Word Factory". She's reading now and she loves to "read" to me and make stories up. We read a lot. I also homeschool my two older children, 8 and 9 1/2 and I have a 9 month old as well. She likes to sit and do a couple of pages of worksheets while the other kids do their work. We also get the laundry basket out and play train (more than one) and car w/ a lid from a pot as the stearing wheel. We play w/ clay, paint, color, make cookies - she loves to cook with me. We sometimes watch cooking shows together and she loves it! She pretended she was Rachel Ray one night while I was making dinner and it was to die for cute!! Just let her explore and ask her what she would like to do each day. Go outside for nature walks or get a book of activities or even a preschool lesson plan book and do some of those. Help her memorize the presidents of the US or other important facts. She is ready to learn. You just need to engage her and make it fun. She won't even know she's learning. Good luck!

This is a challenge.
I actually made a calender out of a posterboard and cardstock. Every Sunday or Monday we plan the up coming week. We only work on a week at a time. I printed up a lot of the ctivities my kids enjoy with graphics(so they understand what it is). I also printed times of the day. So everyday had a standard schedule. ie. breakfast, snacks, lunch, quiet time, snacks, and dinner. That helped them see what was going on. On the in between times I let them choose what we could do(obviously adding errand running when needed. By doing this it eliminated the same thing everyday. I have all boys so barbies don't work for us, but I played cars a lot more than I wanted to. Here are some examples that we have for activities: trains, cars, read books, watch a movie, go to the library, playtime (outside), go to the park, coloring, playdoh, get together with a friend, and play games (cards, connect 4, chutes and ladders, candy land, perfection, etc.). I also have a chore a day that I have on there. They usually try and help me with the chore during part of the free time. They help with laundry more than anything. Also during nap time I usually let my 4yr old play games with or without me. He really enjoys coloring, and playing with playdoh. Those are things I usually don'y like the younger kids doing.
I am sorry this is so long. I hope it helps, please feel free to contact me if you have more questions.
D.

Try getting the reader rabbit learning computer game. It comes in age apropriate gamer such as reading drawing math and more for the apropriate age as well as schooling levels. Lots of fun 4 kids and parents 2 do . Also try inviting some of her friends and their parents over some time 2 entertain u both. She needs friends 2 help take up a littl time at home and give mom a little break. Try hop scotch for an exersise game 2 play 2.

I have a 4 year old daughter and a two year old daughter and they are learning to play together wounderfully and they also play seperatly well. This year we got involved in a program through the local elementary school called HIPPY. It is a wounderful program for my four year old. It will be a great suppliment to your little ones preschool. So what it is, once a week a woman come to our house and brings us a packet of lessons for her to do. She has two lessons a day and they take any where from 15 min to 1 hr depending on her level of concentration that day. It is great she is learning alot and is doing fantastic with it. So check with your local elementary school to see if they participate. Another idea is to read books together or coloring. My daughter like to help me make cookies also. There are a few ideas. Hope that is helpful.

This is our daily schedule. I do childcare in my home but it can be adjusted for your family as well. There is a GREAT book you can purchase on Amazon.com called Activities for Fours. All the activities are age apporpriate for a 4 year old and it will give you LOTS of ideas and ways to keep her busy.

Daily Schedule

6:30am-7:45am
Parents drop children off
Free Play

7:45am-8:00am
Clean up toys
Wash hands for breakfast

8:00am-8:30am
Breakfast
Family Style Dining

8:30am-9:00am
Wash hands
Clean up breakfast
Diapering/Toileting

9:00am-9:45am
Teacher Directed Activities
Preschool Curriculum

9:45am-10:15am
Outside Play
(weather permitting)

10:15am-10:45am
Free Play
Diapering/Toileting

10:45am-11:00am
Clean up toys
Wash hands for lunch

11:00am-11:30am
Lunch
Family Style Dining

11:30am-12:00pm
Wash hands
Clean up lunch
Prepare for rest time
Diapering/Toileting (as needed)

12:00pm-2:00pm
Nap/Rest time
*Children are not required
to sleep. Children that do not
sleep will be provided with
a quiet activity.

2:00pm-2:30pm
Wash hands for snack
Afternoon Snack
Family Style Dining

2:30pm-3:00pm
Wash hands
Clean up snack
Diapering/Toileting

3:00pm-4:00pm
Teacher Directed Activities
Preschool Curriculum

4:00pm-4:30pm
Outdoor Play
(weather permitting)

4:30pm-5:00pm
Diapering/Toileting
Wash hands

5:00pm-6:00pm
Free Play
Parents pick children up

I think boredom is good for kids, it's the birthing ground for creativity and imagination.

I'm a homeschooler and have discovered a great activity based curriculumn that could be done very casually just for fun with a preschooler. It's called Five in a Row. You read a different book every week, and there are different activities that go along with each story. I also bought the cookbook which has a recipe for each story. This cuuriculumn is meant to accompany a language and math so it's not super school feeling although you could certainly add more if you wanted to. I used it with my girls when my youngest was 4 and she just thought we were having fun. It's also very affordable on amazon or ebay and you can get the story books at the library.

I was given a great book when I got married (no kids or planned kids at the time, but whatever) called "The Toddler's Busy Book" Its gears to 18 - 36 months, but the author, Trish Kuffner has a whole series. Fun crafts and activities to do with your kids to keep the busy, entertained and learning. I love the one I have and can't wait to start using it (my dd is 8 months old). Check it out... you can look inside some of them at Amazon.com. Good luck!

I have this tip that I used when my then 3 1/2 year-old had to start sharing mommy and daddy with a sibling, and it works great still! We have a "magical jar" that I have filled with paper strips with different activities written on each one. This can be ANYTHING from a ten-minute activity to an hour, whatever. You can also vary it! Write something like, "story time with mommy for 30 minutes" or "finger painting fun" or whatever. You let your child pick one piece out a day and stop EVERYTHING to do that certain activity with her without interuptions.
On a side note, it's okay for your daughter to learn to entertain herself! That's actually quite healthy and you don't need to feel like you always have to entertain her.
Good luck!

Schedule in lots of reading. Teach your child now how to write and start on learning to read. There are lots of very simple books to look at. Dr. Seuss is really good for young children. It teaches them to rhyme and that making up words is ok. The more she knows before beginning school the better off she will be.

It is so hard as my daughter just now at 6 1/2 is starting to play by herself! Have days you go to the local library and pick out books, also find craft type things she can do at her age. Color Wonders are life savers and great things they can play with and you don't have to worry about making a mess. Go get some games at Target or Walmart, like Hi Ho Cheerios, Chutes and Ladders or other age appropriate games. Encourage her to play by herself though, I know it can make you feel guilty but it is SOOOOO good for them to go off and use their imagination and play by themeselves.

My friends had a great idea -- designated days.
ie, Monday is Art day; Tuesday is puzzles day; Wednesday is baking day; Thursday is card games day, Friday is Legos day, etc. It makes trips to the library or the Dollar Store much more focused.

But this makes me think of another issue too -- my 4-yr-old boy never seems to be bored (Kid K'nex, Legos, musical instruments, the dreaded computer games:-), and it makes me think 'why are women so often complaining that their boyfriends/husbands are too busy with their hobbies, and yet we women can't think of what to do if we ever get a few hours without the kids'.

I apologize for getting off-track from your question, but maybe it's good to start encouraging her into activities that could interest her for life. Yoga day? There are some great Storytime Yoga books/videos. Ballet? Building, ie erector sets? Oops, I was meant to give an answer and threw in more questions than answers.

Get a fun activities book so she can start to learn how to write letters and numbers. If she likes art, try new media like watercolor or chalk. The weather is getting nice out, so maybe she can help in the garden or ride a bike! Also, I have found that it is the perfect age to start helping in the kitchen. Make lunch together! She can't use a knife, but she can tear up lettuce and pour liquids or use measuring cups. I have found that cooking/baking also helps them learn counting.

i have always just included my son in what i am doing around the house. folding laundry, planting in the garden, vacuuming. he has times during his day that are quiet play for him on his own or outside play with us as a family. when his baby sister is sleeping it is gage and mommy time. our schedule looks like this: get up and ready,breakfast,and quiet morning play or watch a kiddy show(he plays on his own while i have coffee and get myself together)then we do chores and do some outside play. we have a snack, then run errands if needed. next comes lunch and then quiet time, sister naps and we play quietly or watch a movie for an hour then we head outside together. when sister gets up we have a snack, then we all play.then itis time to pick up the house and empty the dishwasher before dinner. he play by himself while i make dinner and then after dinner we do our night time routine. this might be TMI but it might give you an idea of how to structure your day. also ask you daughters preschool how they structure their day and maybe model yours after theirs as a way to give your daughter some daily consistency. hope this helps!

My daughter has always loved to help with the laundry. If I am doing laundry, she helps me gather it up and then when we take it down stairs, I let her pour the soap in (once it is measured). She is also very active so if I don't have anything to do around the house, I take her to the park or her and I sit down and do crafts which she really likes to do as well. You dont want to over stimulate them.

we often do crafts (http://www.preschoolexpress.com/toddler_station.shtml) is a good resource

Walks (I don't know what your weather is like) - like 20 minutes and gather nature or ride scooters

small cooking projects (making cookies, muffins, pizzas, dips)

Find a ton of friends. This has helped meet my 4 year old boys attention span quite nicely. He is a very social boy and while some kids are just happy at home playing with mom or by himself my son was not. He thrives when he has a friend come over to play or when he can go over to their house to play. Your daughter may need more social interaction with other children. This is great preparation for them when it comes to life experiences. Because he is used to his older sister always playing with him, I found that when she is gone at school he became accustom to having someone to play with him all the time.
Good luck.

K.
Mom of 7 year old, 4 year old and 1 year old

Have "stations" in your house much like preschools have. For example, in my house --- I have a basket with musical instruments. I have plastic tubs full of art/craft supplies. We have an area for pretend play with costumes, a kitchen, etc. In another area I have educational toys. Then we have computer games. In their rooms are their favorite toys. Sometimes we bake together in the kitchen. Outside we have a sandbox and a baby pool. On our deck we have ride-on toys. And, of course, the tv (educational interactive programs w/ no commercials) for when you've had it. When your kids get bored with one activity station, move them to the next. I also take trips to the library and thrift stores. We also schedule gymnastics, dance, and swim classes. There's also soccer and tee ball. Play dates are great. I am in a moms group. On Wednesdays one mom takes the kids, on Thursdays I take the kids, and on Fridays the other mom takes the kids. Sometimes we turn on the music and dance together. But it's also good for your kids to learn how to entertain themselves instead of you entertaining them. That's good brain development. If she's REALLY bored, have her be mommy's helper and help you clean!

L., YOu should check out my website for fun games and activites. www.melanieschramm.simplyfun.com
Leah would love the games and puzzles. Drew could play some of them too. I need activites also so when I got into this it really helped with keeping the kids busy. Or I just give them lots of chores. (helps keep my house clean!:)

Things I do are go for walks, play hide and seek, sing songs and teach them fingerplays. Painting, threading beads and playing eith play-doh or homemade salt dough use fine motor skills. Playing ball outside or rolling the ball on the floor on the house,running etc use the gross motor muscles. I like to read stories to my kids or have them act out the story and use their imagination. It's also good to let them have some non structured time to do what they want. There is really no end to the fun you can have with kids. Most of it deoends on their personality, your patience level,and their cooperation. Just have fun. Kids are flexible and are open to lots of things.
Good luck P.

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