Life as a taxi. Has your day ever gone like this? Leave work, pick up your children from school, take one child to hockey practice, one to dance lessons and the third to karate. The next day, repeat, pick up, shuffle to the days organized sport activities, come home exhausted, make dinner and remind yourself that this is for the good of your children? Headlines repeatedly tell us our children need to be more active so we keep scheduling more? Are there other ways we could keep our children active and let the parent taxi have a day off?
What Happened to Active Play?
Do you remember those old afterschool games like hop scotch, double dutch, and kick the can? Did you ever just meet your friends in front of your house for a game of street hockey or swing on the monkey bars?
Children naturally like to move. Organized sports have many benefits and are one of the many ways to incorporate activity into children’s lives, but have you ever thought of unscheduling a few days for active play? Kids love the opportunity to build, explore and create.
According to a 2012 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity and Youth by Participaction “active play offers cognitive, emotional and social development benefits. It has been shown to improve and foster motor function, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving skills, the ability to control emotions, and social skills such as taking turns and helping others”. 1. Active Play leads to a lifetime of being active.
Try movement games, family yard work, and new opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Take advantage of the additional daylight hours of spring and summer to be outside. Great ideas include:
- Shoot baskets, play tag, jump rope, or kick a soccer ball
- Ride your bike, scooter around the block, practice those skateboard tricks
- Go for a nature hike or a trail ride and see what is in the forest behind your house
- Set up a backyard obstacle course and race against the neighbors
- Build – gather cardboard and wood and see what creation you can make
- Turn on the sprinkler and let your kids run through it on a hot day
- Be an example for your kids. Show them what an active lifestyle is all about. We are never too old to show off our double dutch skills or our amazing soccer shot.