COVID-19 has created havoc on the entire country and has had a dramatic effect on K-12 education. Many schools were not in attendance the last 8-10 weeks of the school year, and this created a big issue for many parents who were not equipped to “home school” their children. Summer has families beginning to think about plans for how to fill their time, and you may be searching for things to do amidst government restrictions on events and businesses in many communities.
Some adults have used this time to do spring cleaning and projects around the house. But what about the kids? What is it they can do to stay active while they don’t have access to sports and summer programs they were involved with in the past? Some kids may be able to come up with ideas on their own but others may need some adult intervention and guidance to ensure they are active and healthy this summer.
Why It’s Important to Keep Kids Active
There is some truth to the saying “staying busy keeps me out of trouble.” When people are bored, it can lead them down an unhealthy path, particularly for troubled youth. With activities available, a lot of these kids can curb potentially devastating and life-altering decisions and turn their lives around. Unfortunately, the COVID situation has dramatically changed the way some of these programs operate or has cancelled them altogether which could initiate some emotional distress for many children.
Being active is also a benefit to children for building social skills. Being able to play well with others, sharing with others, and using communications skills during activities are all benefits to the development of a child. Children can also benefit from the physical aspects of many activities as they provide ways to exercise. Children need to burn energy as a natural part of growing. Exercise is good for everyone, but especially for children. As children grow, they need exercise to build bone and muscle strength, prevent fat, improve emotional mood, and decrease anxiety and depression. A good level of exercise will provide a healthy weight and promote a healthy level of self-esteem, which is vital for adolescents.
Ways to Keep Kids Active
With so many restrictions being implemented regarding stay-at-home orders, many may think their summer is cancelled. However, rather than relying on events in the community to stay active, you will have to get creative and provide these opportunities in privatized settings. Here are some ideas to do just that.
- Summer is the best time for swimming so you may have to find someone with a pool or pond to check this one off the list since many community pools won’t be opening this year. If not, get a slip-and-slide or at least a sprinkler to run through. Just a tarp with some soap and water on it will do the trick, and it will even give the kiddos a little cleaning as well!
- Daily bike riding is an excellent way to get some exercise. Doing family bike rides is a great life-long activity that can be enjoyed by all members of the family. Child mounted seats or pull-behind methods ensure that every member of the household can be a part of the fun.
- Boating with a canoe or kayak is an excellent and fun way to stay active. This is something you can do at a pretty young age with an accompanying adult and with safety gear like life jackets, of course. Bring a fishing pole while you are at it and make a day of it on the water between rowing sessions. You could even combine a swimming session in between or find some rocks to skip, which is a childhood favorite!
- Roller blading/roller skating is a fun way to stay active as a youngster and even as an adult. Playing hockey or creating other games on the skates can make it even more enjoyable. Don’t forget to wear your protective equipment unless you are a pro!
- Wiffleball or even real baseball out in the yard or at the diamond is a lost art. Having a catch with a family member or friend or taking some batting practice and simulating a home run derby is always a good time. Don’t like baseball? How about throwing a football or frisbee? You could also do some bean bag tossing or throw some washers.
- It may be raining but don’t let that stop you. Board games with the family or games on an iPad may be what is needed to keep your mind sharp and activated. There are many resources online to help no matter what age you are. Maybe putting together a puzzle is more up your alley. You can do that on an electronic device too!
Just because life has changed doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing. Make the most of it and enjoy some activities to keep yourself and your children healthy. These are just a few ideas but the sky is the limit and it doesn’t take much creativity to find plenty of things to do depending on your taste. Making a small effort over time will provide a large benefit for your physical and emotional health and will teach your kids to follow suit.