Keeping kids healthy is a challenge in the best of times, but the challenges of the past year and counting have made ensuring the physical and mental health of children even more difficult. For this year's celebration of Every Kid Healthy Week, we've got some ideas on how you can teach your children to care for every aspect of their well-being.
Getting your child up and active is difficult when you're homebound, as space may be limited. It helps to have a yard, but even within a house or apartment you can open up a space for your kids to stay active. Here are some tips:
- Active screen time: Whether it's finding age-appropriate exercises online that kids can do while watching a video, or posting your own videos online of fun physical activity, you can make the screen work for your family.
- Limited space exercises: There are plenty of exercises you can do in a space no larger than an exercise mat. Look online for ideas!
- Have recess!: You might be homeschooling your children right now in the absence of classes, so don't forget about one of the best parts of childhood. Studies and academic programs have long confirmed that recess improves focus in students, so make sure to give your children a break in the home school day for some physical activity.
- Use your yard: If you have access to a yard or driveway, you're in luck! Basketball, soccer, badminton, jump ropes, Frisbee, and classic childhood games are all viable options with even a modest yard.
- Music: Music is a great motivator, and many kids love to dance or just get active when their favorite song is on. Activity doesn't have to be controlled, and some kids prefer spontaneity. Music is a great way to get there.
It can be hard to find your favorite foods consistently right now, as grocery stores are overwhelmed with customers stocking up, but this is a great opportunity to teach your kids about preparing healthy meals:
- Get them involved: Encourage your child to help you prepare meals, and let them choose from some pre-selected recipes. It helps to impart a sense of how much goes effort into meal preparation and making good dietary choices, while making these things more accessible to them.
- Do a taste test: Don't take your food experience for granted. There are a lot of common foods that your child may not have tried. Next time you're shopping, buy a few foods that aren't standard in your household, and host a taste test where your children can try them all.
- Incorporate education: Teaching your child about nutrition and meal preparation during your daily routine can help them better understand how both their health and your household operate. It can also give weight to school lessons: Food is a great visual tool for subjects like math, and domestic skills like budgeting meals are valuable life skills that every child should learn.
Some of the most important elements of school are socialization and emotional development. Homeschooling is a unique opportunity to understand how these fit into your child's education.
- Set intentions: Educational goals are more than just test scores. Work with your child to understand their unique interests and skills, and help them develop goals for the school year that will increase their enthusiasm for learning. This will also help them connect to meaningful dreams and develop self-confidence during an unusual period of dueling stagnation and change.
- Understand their experiences: Educate yourself on the social and emotional development of children. This is a difficult age, one that you may not remember fully. Studying experts in child development may give a new insight into your child's personality and needs.
- Teach mindfulness techniques: The first thing to go during a lockdown is patience. Kids are active people, and being stuck at home is not their natural state. Mindfulness techniques like breathing exercises and can help them understand how to slow down and examine life calmly, a valuable tool for development not only in homeschooling, but in all facets of life.