When I became a parent, I made a promise to myself that my kids would be kids, playing outside daily and enjoying the messiness that comes with it.
But then came the day when I found out my oldest son, Jake, was accepted into an accelerated fourth grade learning program. What an honor and you bet I was proud! But what I didn’t realize was the price both of us were going to pay.
In the beginning, I fell into a trap that many parents fall into, pushing your child to be the best academically while also being involved in many extracurricular activities leaving them no downtime to just be a kid. I wanted the best for Jake and got consumed into a short-term lifestyle of trying to keep up with the Joneses.
There were many days where Jake came home from school, had a snack and did homework till bedtime, leaving him no time to play. And there were many nights where he became so frustrated that he broke down in tears.
Then one day in October, he asked me if he could please play outside because he didn’t have recess. I looked outside. It was sunny. I asked him why he didn’t have recess. He replied, “Mom, we only have recess three days a week.” I was in shock! Many thoughts went through my mind such as why is my child at school for seven hours every day and two days of it he has no physical activity? Where are our priorities?
I knew I couldn’t immediately change the school system, so I focused on what I could do at home to help my son get the physical exercise he needs to be healthy, while enjoying his time as a kid.
Below are 5 tips that have worked in our home:
- As soon as your child comes home from school, give them a snack and let them go play outside for 30 minutes. Kids need to burn off energy, allowing them to focus when it’s time for them to do their homework. Here is some great information from WebMD on How to Let Your Kids be Kids.
- Limit television to only the weekends. And even then, limit it to only movie time at night. Effects of television watching can be significant to your child’s health and well-being.
- If they have extra time at night, pull out a board game instead of an electronic game. Kids need to continue developing social skills. Board games promote that.
- Take away all electronic handheld games and phone at 7:00 p.m. Research also suggests eliminating televisions from your child’s bedroom. U.S. News Health.
- Fifteen minutes before bed, encourage them to read or write in bed