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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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Fun Ways to Connect with Children at Any Age

by Brandy Centolanza

Busy schedules can make it difficult to find time to carve out for family fun. But spending quality time together is beneficial for everyone, and there are plenty of ways to bond with your son or daughter, whether your child is three or thirteen.

Toddlers

Dr. Miriam Liss with the Department of Psychological Science at University of Mary Washington suggests reading with your child at this age, going for a walk, taking your child to a children’s museum, or going for a swim at the YMCA.

Preschoolers

Reading together continues to be important at this stage, Liss says, but you can also “play board games like Chutes & Ladders or Candyland, go to Kings Dominion and do the family rides in Planet Snoopy, or go to the children’s museum in Fredericksburg and do pretend play together,” she suggests. Other ideas include picking strawberries and playing on the swings at Braehead Farm, wading in the stream at Hurkamp Park, or
visiting any local park or playground.

Elementary Age

Head outdoors together and hike, swim, fish, camp, or simply take the kids out for ice cream. Depending on the weather, “Go tubing on the Rappahannock,” Liss suggests. “Or have the kids test and rate all the local playgrounds. Bike around the canal path together, or the kids can scooter while the parents walk.” Looking for something educational for the family? When your child is in fourth grade and studying Virginia history you can visit historical sites here in Fredericksburg, like Ferry Farm, or plan day trips to Monticello, Mt. Vernon or Jamestown.

Middle School

Play board games or have your child teach you to play some of their favorite video games. These are great ways to have fun and interact with your child. You can also have a family movie night or go running together. If your child has extracurricular activities, even supporting them in their sports, dance and other activities counts as long as you are all together.

High School

“[Let] the kids help plan a spontaneous road trip, start an exercise plan together, or canoe or kayak together on the Rappahannock,” Liss says. Washington, D.C. and Richmond have plenty of attractions that you and your teen can enjoy. You can also go to a professional or college sporting event or enjoy a concert together.

Brandy Centolanza
Brandy Centolanza
Brandy Centolanza is a freelance journalist who covers health, parenting, family travel, and the hospitality industry. She writes from her Virginia home surrounded by her husband of 20 years and their two teens, three cats,and a bearded dragon named Craig.

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