Water Play

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

Water play is always a crowd pleaser

As the mother of a large family of 12 children, I find that water play is always a crowd pleaser. From a very young age, in fact, as soon as your child can sit, he will revel in the pleasures of a tub or pool. It's always a relief to discover that you don't have to invest in pricey games and equipment to educate your child in a fun way. Water play fits the bill in spades.

Preparation is half the battle

I find that preparation is half the battle. If you're putting your kids in a kiddy pool, set up, in advance, all you will need: towels, bath mats to prevent skidding, and to give your child a place to drip when he comes back in the house, clothes to change into, toys, and sunscreen. Try to set up the pool in a shaded area, and make sure it's not windy outside. Teach your kids appropriate behavior for kiddy pool time: walk-don't run when walking in slippery areas, no jumping into the pool or inside the pool, and no splashing kids who don't like being splashed! Help your kids apply sunscreen; consult the pediatrician for the appropriate SPF level for your child, though SPF 15 is usual. Waterproof sunscreen is a real boon for parents, as far as I'm concerned, but don't be fooled into thinking that the sunscreen lasts very long. You might need to make your kids take a break while you reapply the sunscreen.

Watch your kids for signs they're getting cold: wrinkled skin, blue lips, and shivering are pretty good indicators that they have to come out, even if they're arguing for more time. If you've prepared well, chances are, they'll be having so much fun they won't want to come out. Here are some ideas for educational water fun:

Look through your kitchen for plastic items such as funnels and containers of various sizes. These help develop concepts like empty/full, in/out, heavy/light, before/after, deep/shallow, top/bottom.

Squeeze bottles are great for teaching distance. If you have more than one child in the pool, have them compete to see who can squirt the farthest, but no squirting faces, please!

Plastic measuring cups can teach kids how to measure. This requires some input from parents. Explain the markings, then give them assignments: "Who can measure 3/4 cup of water?"

Boats and rubber duckies

Floating bath toys can be used in a kiddy pool just as well as they can be used in an indoor tub. Boats and rubber duckies don't have to be confined to indoor areas.

Another fun activity is for kids to play under a lawn sprinkler. My mother used to set up a sprinkler in our driveway on hot summer days, and I remember jumping in and out of the spray for hours on end.