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When school is out, keep kids busy | Family Matters
In many ways, today’s kids have busier schedules than any previous generation of youngsters. Many extracurricular activities, including sports, require a nearly year-round commitment, and the dual-income household has landed many kids in after-school programs where kids tend to their schoolwork or engage in various activities that keep them from resting on their laurels.
But those busy schedules get a lot less hectic when the school year ends. Once school is out, kids used to a full schedule might find themselves with lots of time on their hands. Though it’s good for kids to squeeze in some rest and relaxation during their summer break, it’s also important for kids to stay active so they don’t develop poor habits as the summer goes on. In addition, the American Psychological Association notes that kids who are physically active are more capable of coping with stress and tend to have higher self-esteem than kids who do not include physical activity as part of their regular routines. The following are a few suggestions for parents looking for ways to keep their kids active throughout the summer while still allowing them to recharge their batteries after a long school year.
Plan an active vacation
Summer is when many families go on vacation, so why not choose a vacation that involves more than napping poolside? Though it’s still good to leave some time for relaxation, find a locale where you can embrace activities like snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, or other adventures that get you and your youngsters off the poolside chaise and out exploring. Such a trip might inspire kids to embrace an activity more fully, getting them off the couch not only while they’re on vacation but also when they return home for the rest of summer.
Teach kids to garden
Gardening might be seen as a peaceful and relaxing hobby, but it still requires a lot of elbow grease and hard work that pays physical dividends. A garden must be planted, hoed, weeded, and watered, and gardening gets kids out of the house to enjoy the great outdoors. When growing a vegetable garden, kids might embrace the chance to be directly involved in the foods that will eventually end up on their dinner tables. Parents can embrace this as an opportunity to teach the value of eating locally-produced foods and the positive impact such behavior has on the environment.
Few adults who work in offices haven’t looked out their windows on a sunny summer day and thought how nice it would be to be spending that afternoon making a few laps in a lake, at the beach or in a pool. Kids have the same daydreams during the summer, so take a day off every so often and take the kids for an afternoon of swimming. Swimming is a great activity that exercises the entire body, including the shoulders, back, legs, hips, and abdominals. In addition, swimming helps kids and adults alike maintain a healthy weight while also improving their cardiovascular health. It’s hard for some people to find a place to swim once the warm weather departs, so take advantage of the summer weather and go swimming as often as possible while the kids are not in school.
Limit time with TV, video games and Internet
Many of today’s kids are as tech savvy as they are busy. But it’s important that kids don’t spend too much time online or on the couch watching television or playing video games. Such activities are largely sedentary, and they can set a bad precedent for the months ahead, even when the school year begins once again. Parents should limit how much time their youngsters spend in front of the television or the computer during summer vacation, keeping track and turning the TV or computer off if they suspect kids are spending too much time staring at the screen instead of being active. Kids might not love it when you turn their video games off or minimize their access to social media, but explain the limitations at the onset of summer and let kids know you expect them to be physically active even if it is summer vacation.