Tag Archives: Kids & Family

Fun Ways to Keep Kids’ Minds Active in Summer

Photo Courtesy: (c) Olesya Shelomova / stock.Adobe.com

By Statepoint

A vacation from school is no excuse for a vacation from thinking. Not only can learning be made fun, but you can avoid a rusty return to school in the fall by keeping kids’ minds active all summer long.

Here are a few fun ways to make thinking and learning a priority, while not detracting from the fun of summer days:

• Make the Most of a Trip: From the lifecycle of local wildlife to the accomplishments of a great figure hailing from your destination, there is always an opportunity to learn about science, art, history and more on a trip out of town. Whether you are going on a beach getaway or visiting a major city, ask your kids to research the destination before departure. Not only will this help add meaning to the trip, it’s a fun way for kids to stay intellectually occupied. Then, once you are there, look for educational opportunities like museums, historic sites and guided nature walks.

• Learn an Instrument: The summer vacation is the perfect time to delve into the world of music. And new technologies can make the process of learning enjoyable and exciting, as well as help beginners learn to play at their own pace. For example, the CT-X700, a portable keyboard with features that are tailored to casual or beginning players, comes with hundreds of built-in rhythms that span both time and the globe. Young musicians can learn not only how to play an instrument, but also get acquainted with the history of music. The Step-Up Lesson system, which displays proper fingering and notation, is a great way to easily learn songs, while its six-track recorder can quickly capture sudden inspiration.

• Play: Whether kids are playing a formal team sport or just going outside and running around, staying active is good for the brain. Indeed, evidence supports that exercise can make people more creative, improve concentration and boost memory. Take advantage of the season and hit up the pool, baseball diamond, playground and more.

• Puzzle it Out: Use new tech like ClassPad.net, to give kids the functionality necessary to tackle any math puzzle — from geometry to graphing to statistics and beyond. A free, all-in-one web-based mathematics creation and discovery resource, kids can use it to catch up this summer or work ahead.

With so many ways to make learning fun, you can avoid brain drain in your household this summer for a smoother transition back to school in the fall.

5 Reasons Kids Should Play Outside More

Photo Courtesy: (c) FatCamera – iStock.com

By Statepoint

Whether it’s dance lessons, computer projects, art class or yoga, kids these days are busy bees. And while such activities are enriching and fun, experts say that many kids aren’t spending enough time doing something much simpler and every bit as important as structured programming: playing outdoors.

“Finding time for the kids to play outside can be such a challenge for parents,” says Keri Wilmot, a pediatric occupational therapist and an expert contributor to TheGeniusofPlay.org. “As a parent I worry about ‘stranger danger’ or whether my kids will be able to navigate social issues on their own. Without spontaneity, playtime has lost some of it’s fun.”

Outdoor play is necessary for healthy child development, according to The Genius of Play. The initiative, whose mission is to raise awareness about the importance of play and help parents make play a critical part of raising their kids, is sharing five benefits of unstructured outdoor playtime:

• Physical Development: Research has shown that physically active kids tend to be leaner and healthier, while an inactive childhood can lead to a sedentary (and likely unhealthy) lifestyle in adulthood. Furthermore, physical play builds gross and fine motor skills necessary for success in school and beyond. Hanging from the monkey bars, for instance, helps kids develop the hand muscles needed to grip a pencil.

• Risk-Taking: Through outdoor play, children are given the opportunity to step outside their comfort zones and try new things. While taking risks won’t always lead to success on the first try, moments like a first bike ride without training wheels, or the first trip down the big slide in the playground, are critical for building the confidence and resilience needed to pursue a future career, start a business, or handle life’s many challenges.

• Social Skills: Childhood games played outdoors can help build social skills and teach kids to follow directions. From games as simple as tag, to those with more complicated rules, like “Kick the Can,” “Capture the Flag,” and sports like soccer and basketball, communication, teamwork and other important social skills are developed during outdoor play.

• Problem Solving: Children’s imaginations are often stimulated by the world around them. Being outside widens their horizons and can encourage kids to tap into their creativity in order to come up with solutions to challenges, such as learning how to build a sandcastle or figuring out how to climb up a jungle gym.

• Reducing Stress: So much outdoor play involves physical activity, thrilling moments and a sense of freedom, all of which can boost endorphins, helping to lower stress levels and reduce anxiety and depression. Interestingly, simply touching dirt when creating mud pies or digging for worms can be beneficial. According to a Bristol University study, certain types of “friendly” bacteria in soil have been found to activate the group of neurons that produce serotonin, which contributes to a feeling of well-being and happiness. So, don’t be afraid to let your kids get a bit dirty out there!

For play ideas, expert advice and other play resources, visit TheGeniusOfPlay.org.

Playtime is essential for children. To promote health, happiness and confidence, be sure some of it is spent outdoors.