Parents can typically expect their elementary level students to get a fair amount of physical activity at school, but what about the summer time? Aside from the special outings and the special family activities, most American children spend their time indoors and, sadly, plugged into their electronics or the TV set. While it’s true that we need to take extra precautions with the extreme heat and other risks of prolonged exposure to the elements, there are lots of ways to promote a healthy, balanced indoor/outdoor physical activity regime during summer vacation. Staying active will keep their energy level at an ideal level, promote an overall healthy lifestyle and in most cases, drastically improve their behavior (burning all that energy is key for healthy child development). Here are some easy ways to encourage kids to stay active during summer vacation:
1. Set the example
It’s every parent’s job to encourage physical activity and model good behavior. While it’s great to have lazy Sundays every once in a while, it’s a great idea to organize family activities that incorporate physical activity, such as walks and bike rides. Even outdoor activities such as raking leaves count.
2. Make it a part of his or her schedule
A great way to maintain his or her fitness routine is to explore special classes during the summer. Explore age-appropriate lessons and sports for your child. These might include gymnastics or ballet classes or soccer lessons. Check with your city to see if they have special activities going on in your neighborhood.
3. Everything is more fun with friends
If you are concerned that your child is not really interested, try to find ways to make physical activity more enjoyable for him or her. For example, inviting friends over to play outside might be a good motivation. Or having you offer to kick a ball or play catch with her might spark her interest.
4. Splish Splash!
In almost every city the #Nonitribe has visited, we’ve found fun, free splash pads open for the public. Take some time to visit a splash pad with your little one. You’d be surprised at the amount of fun energy that can be packed into just one hour!
Limit the amount of time your child spends in front of the television or computer monitor. Children who spend a majority of their time engaged in sedentary activities have been found to have poor motor coordination skills. Limit the amount of time that your child remains inactive to no more than an hour at a time. There are lots of opportunities to have fun outdoors! Meanwhile, set the example and put down your device too!
Safety first! Remeber to emphasize safety to your child. Teach him or her to be vigilant when crossing the street and to play safely around cars. Show her how important it is to play safely with other children and on playground equipment, for example by avoiding falling on her neck and head. Make sure to read our pointers for trampoline safety and always exercise extreme vigilance when using pools.