For most kids, there’s nothing quite like the end of the school year. Classes, homework, and any other formal schedules are pretty much done. The biggest concern now is figuring out what to do with all that free time. Without the routine of getting up and going to school, kids can get in the habit of sleeping in, lazing around the house, and spending too much time in front of a screen. On the other hand, warm weather and free time can also mean days outside, running around, playing games, and exploring.
Here are a few tips on keeping kids active over the summer holiday.
Keep play fun
Don’t worry too much about the rules. Making a game or activity too rigid is the best way to guarantee that a kid won’t want to be active. Your job is to facilitate play, not dictate it. If kids stop playing an organised game and start chasing a butterfly, just go with it. As long as young kids are running, jumping, and having fun, they’re improving their health and athletic ability.
Never reward kids with food
It’s no wonder childhood obesity is so prevalent. We tell children to eat healthy, but then we reward their good behaviour with junk food. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat. But to consistently reinforce a kid with ice cream and candy for a job well done – such as cleaning the backyard – delivers the wrong message.
Make a play date with friends
Remember the days of running around with the neighborhood kids from dawn until dusk? Wasn’t that fun? Well, it’s also an essential way to keep your kid in shape. Doing it alone becomes a barrier for some children. Invite some neighbourhood buddies over and see how fast they come up with active things to do.
Make exercise a family affair
Does most of your family time involve watching Modern Family? Set a new routine. After all, children learn by example. When you’re finished eating dinner, instead of sitting around and watching TV, go outside for a walk or to your nearest park and let the kids play on the jungle gyms and swings.
You don’t want to burden your kids with too much rigidity during summer break, but planning some activities ahead of time can prevent them from being tempted to sit around the house all day. Enrol kids in summer camp or just set a time each day for when they should go outside and play.
Turn off the tube
Limit your children’s television viewing to as little as possible. And try to incorporate physical activity during their television time. Another way to sneak activity into your kids’ day, is to tell them to do jumping jacks during commercials. Make it a game or a contest.