It’s a tough world to raise “fit” children in. Just a generation ago, kids played outside all afternoon, climbed trees, rode bikes and ran amuck in the creek or throughout the neighborhood. Today, children are allured by technology, devices and video games. Exercise comes from programming their afternoons and evenings with sports or classes on the court, field, dojo, studio or pool. Even in a healthy community like ours, children may not be getting the right kind or amount of fitness to grow strong and healthy. Here are a few tips that we follow at The Growing Room to invigorate students and help them feel a love for health and fitness:
Every child is different and just because you love baseball, doesn’t mean that your child will love it too. Try something new! Try it together! With so many exercise options these days, why not try squash, ga-ga ball, lacrosse, boot camp, tai-chi or yoga? Exercising and good habits doesn’t have to come through organized sports either. Fitness is a lifestyle. Talk about it and make it a priority in your family so that everyone is focused on good health together.
Children love challenges. Set goals, challenge your children, give rewards. Our students love challenges such as laps around the playground, speed in an obstacle course, push-up challenges, etc. In any group of children, there are always some willing to take on the challenge and try. For those who won’t try or are unmotivated, find the perfect reward! Don’t forget- fitness is a lifestyle, so the best challenges are long term. Make sure that you point out how it feels to complete the challenge, do hard things and see or feel the results of healthy choices.
We want our children to be healthy, so we have to be an example. Adults need to show their children that health is a priority by exercising and eating right. Discuss healthy lifestyle choices, but most of all show them your healthy lifestyle. Your commitment to the gym or daily walk teaches them that it is important. Turn off the basketball game and go play! An Active Family is a healthy family!
Is your child addicted to his or her devices? Guess what? You may be too. Turn it off and find an outdoor activity that satisfies everybody such as a game or a hike. The physical exertion and social interaction is good for the mind and body. Limit tablets and gaming to short sessions after homework is done or on weekends as a reward.
Remember what it felt like to play as a child? In today’s competitive environment, we don’t leave much time for creative and unstructured free time. Children love to explore the world and that is hard to do in a carpool. Take a few minutes to go for a walk or bike ride between karate and tutors. Children in childcare need to have free playtime to run, jump and play and not just sit and watch a movie.
A healthy lifestyle is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. With summer coming, set a goal to take advantage of the amazing weather and endless parks and trails, and plan activities that help your child grow fit.
Lenny has a background in Special Education and Childcare as a Teacher and Director. She has worked with children in the San Ramon Valley for over 30 years in childcare, curriculum development, youth leadership and tutoring. She is currently directs safety and curriculum planning for The Growing Room Education Council.