Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Keeping Children Active for a Life Time

Whether your children are in school or being schooled at home activity is an important part of a child’s education. Many schools have continued to restrict active time cutting recess and physical education periods. Parents need to help children find activities that help them meet that need to be active for health and educational reasons. We know physical activity has an impact on both.

Old Simple Entertainments are making a Come Back
It has been a pleasure to see self sustaining activities return to children’s activities. Hop scotch and jump ropes have returned to playgrounds. I have heard young children repeating jumping songs I have not heard in years. Books are actually being published to teach songs that have fallen to the side as the tradition was neglected. One of the reasons I like these activities is that they are independent, self-sustaining and require little adult intervention. Children can do them alone or with others. Some organization can be required to introduce children to outdoor independent games who have never experienced them, but once games appear, children begin to naturally organize themselves and continue to play.

Not Every Child is an Athlete
Many children enjoy enrolling in competitive sports, playing the game, and improving their skills. Win or lose they have a chance to play a favorite game. Not every child is drawn to sports but it does not mean they may not need assistance finding physical activities to pursue. Helping kids find a life a physical activity that they can pursue over a life time can be great for athletes as well. Not everyone has the ability or the time to commit to playing team sports over a life time but can enjoy a variety of activities that can be scheduled around an individual’s personal life and commitments.

Be willing to try a variety of activities. Swimming and swimming related activities are a great introduction for many kids. My Mom, sister, and I started water aerobics while still living at home. While I don’t have the opportunities to take classes at the moment, I still do practice water running and the other exercises I learned any time I get pool time. Many people have similar experiences with other activities once learned but carried on periodically through a life time.

Tennis, martial arts, tai chi, yoga, camping, hiking, biking, boating, gardening, and thousands of other activities are all things that benefit from planting seeds when children are young. Some will continue consistently and others return to skills long forgotten as adults with some of the basics still in place. Taking the time to expose children to a variety of activities gives them a basket to choose from over the course of their lives and encourages them to continue learning new activities to keep active and fit.

Just to be clear I am not advocating over scheduled children filled with formal lessons and a daily schedule. Many of these activities can actually be family friendly and fun to learn together. One of the reasons I think I have stuck with water aerobics for so long is the fond memories I do have of learning with my Mom and my sister. It was one of the few times the three have done something like that together. I mentioned camping and hiking because again that was a family experience for me. My older brother is the one who taught me about hiking and camping and the independent activities I did later were a result of the confidence he instilled in me with his lessons. This should be adding more quality family time, not decreasing it.

Check resource section for outdoor activities
How to Help Your Child Get More Physical Activity

Picture credit: joyosity

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