With elementary school days ending pretty early (2:30 pm where we are!), and fewer kids just playing outside for fun, it’s pretty much assumed these days that kids will be signed up for multiple fun fitness activities in order to avoid boredom, unlike how it was 20 years ago.
Besides helping the kids to get rid of their boredom, they play a crucial role in keeping the kids fit and active and see the world with bright eyes. After all, can there be a better combination than fun and fitness? It is difficult to find the rewarding benefits of fun fitness activities.
There are endless options of sports, music, art, stem/coding, drama, extra math, and reading, foreign languages, the list goes on! It’s tempting to think that enrolling a child into a little bit of everything will keep them at an advantage.
But in reality, here is how it typically goes:
Mom: “Hey do you want to sign up for [insert activity of choice] after school?
Kid: “yes, that sounds great, I’m excited”
Mom: “Ok, we start Monday”
Monday rolls around and the kid has a great first class, super pumped, can’t wait until the next. Things are going great!
3 weeks later.
Kid: “Mom, I don’t want to go, I’m tired”
Mom: “You need to understand the commitment and the value of follow-through!” (when in reality thinking about how much she paid for the sessions and we better not damn well lose that money!)
WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY IS THE BEST APPROACH TO Fun Fitness ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
According to science, less is more.
What does that mean?
What it means is that children need ample time to play WITHOUT any adult supervision. Think about it if you have little kids under age 7 – when was the last time they played outside with other kids, without having parents around as an audience. Even hands-off parents can be a source of feelings of being judged for a child. without having parents around as an audience. Even hands-off parents
Researchers tell us that when kids feel like they are in control, they are less likely to experience depression and anxiety in their lifetime.
Through play, children develop a greater understanding of themselves and cultivate their own creativity.
We hear you and we’ve been there!
When it comes to missed skills, especially in sports, there is a healthy balance.
In sports for example, within an organized, adult-directed sport, children are mainly learning the skills of the sport but are not using complex cognitive skills to execute the game on their own. The adults take on all of the higher-level mental processes, which basically means the fun and creativity can be lost.
When the fun is lost, kids lose interest, which is why there is an incredible drop-off – 70% of kids quit playing sports by the age of 13.
Now for music or languages, there is definitely a need for learning skills and progressing. The key is to ask and make sure your child’s teachers make it fun and give them time outside of the lessons where they can just play the instrument for fun or lookup funny words in another language. Keeping them interested outside of the lessons will make them more likely to want to stick with it. amping up their fitness game.
Ok, so what do I do because if I don’t sign up for something, my kid begs for screens!
Try to stick to a minimalist approach, with only one organized fitness activity at a time and make sure the activity selected is something your child truly wants to try. For all the other times, see if there are other parents with kids nearby where you can schedule routine play-dates, exchanging homes each time.
Another option is to seek out play-based after school care in your area where there isn’t a set “skill” they learn but kids are allowed to just be kids. A set of fun activities allows a child to bloom like no other.
Lastly, introduce activities to your kids right at home. There are a ton of resources online to teach a child music or language, to do experiments or learn new skills. When you teach them yourselves you’re more likely to truly understand what your child loves or doesn’t love about the activity to see if it’s something to pursue further. And best of all, it’s a wonderful bonding experience!