Back in the good, old days, okay, even just 20 years ago, kids went outside during recess and in the neighborhood to play games like Tag, Freeze Tag, Red Light, Green Light and more. Kids, especially girls, would spend countless minutes swinging or jumping rope. Even jumping rope on one foot. These games were a great break from school and were a great way to gather up neighborhood friends and just play. Very little equipment needed, just your body and mind.
Well, because of a shift in our world, kids rarely get the opportunity to just play like that anymore. Many kids don’t even have recess at school in which to play and have fun. And if they have recess, it is often one time per day, a very short span of time, and then, to boot, the area in which they play is so small that they can’t even have a good game of tag. All of those old school things were very beneficial and we just thought we were having fun.
So – what can you as a parent or even grandparent do? Go have fun with the kids!
I know that life is very busy. I have been there! But looking back I can tell you this: it passes way too quickly. So, take a moment and go have fun with your kids. Play an old fashioned game of Freeze Tag. Jump rope together. Walk along a curb together. Trust me, it will help you and your kids have fun and enjoy life together!
Not convinced. Here are some thoughts that might just convince you to do so.
Exercise Can Create Family Unity
There is nothing more precious than watching a little child run around and try to catch their sibling, mom, dad, or someone. They run and run and turn and run. They are just so cute. Spending time being active with your kids not only benefits your family as together time, but it also benefits their body and mind as well. Taking time to do this as a family will create long term benefits. You will be spending time together creating wonderful memories, maybe even some traditions, and your child’s core strength will be growing stronger. That is a win-win!
My brother-in-law, Mike, and his family have a tradition of running together whenever they possibly can. Dad and all four kiddos. Their tradition even held true on the day of his oldest daughter’s wedding. Aimee, the bride, her dad, all three remaining Chaplain kiddos, and brave enough guests went on a 3 mile run along the Pacific Coast with the bride. It was awesome! The view, the run, the memories created. It will be a treasured memory forever for all.
Exercise Creates Balance and Core Strength
Recent research is showing that many kids today have a very hard time sitting in school and paying attention. There’s a huge problem with that and no, it’s not that this movement bugs the teacher. Here’s the challenge. Every time your child moves around, they lose focus and that means they are losing vital pieces of information to their learning. In the teaching world, we call them gaps and they are difficult, if not nearly impossible to make up.
So, I recently asked the question, “Why do kids today have such a hard time focusing and staying still?” Well, in my research, I found some very interesting ideas and, having been a classroom teacher, much of the information makes perfect sense to me.
Research is showing that many kids today lack core strength in their bodies. The body’s core is the middle section where the abdominal and back muscles engage to keep you upright so that you can sit or even walk. Many kids also lack balance which is critical in sitting, especially in a classroom. Research is indicating that because so many of today’s kids do not play outdoors in free play such as swinging, riding a bike, or jumping rope, kids are missing the opportunities to build this core strength.
Think about. It takes a lot of core strength and balance to sit on a swing, pump those legs and soar toward Heaven. If you didn’t have core strength you would fall off that swing, which is why we often did that as younger kids.
Research is also indicating that core strength and balance are key components to school success. There is so much good information on this topic that I will be writing more about this subject on core strength and balance in an upcoming post. Be sure to watch for it.
Exercise is Good for the Body and Mind
If you read my first post in Healthy Living called, Run, Forrest, Run, you read that I totally believe in the importance of exercise. Exercise helped me so much while raising kids. It was my mental therapy. It was good for my mind and body. Well, that applies to our kids as well.
Exercise is that one thing where you can just go all out and all in. You can be competitive. You can be silly. You can be sweaty – all at the same time even. But for sure, exercise will strengthen the body and mind of your child.
Many of you already know that exercise creates endorphins in the brain. These endorphins send good messages to the brain so that kids are better able to process stimuli and situations around them. They are creating a “good balance” in the brain to be able to handle things in a better way when presented to them.
As adults, we all know that we are constantly presented with stimuli that we must process in a good, positive way, like stressful days at work. Well, exercising with your kids whether taking a bike ride together or playing tag, creates these endorphins and it also allows your child to build that core strength. Plus, it’s plain old fun which you just can’t beat.
Now you might say, “My kid plays a sport and goes to practice three times per week,” surely that is enough. That is fantastic, but studies are showing that exercise activity that promotes free play is vital to building core strength. So, although your child is active, they need free play where they can build strength on their own, not in an organized sports way or geared to a specific sport.
Some of my favorite memories with our girls are times that we all gathered in our backyard and played tag or just pushed our girls on the swing. We had no idea that it was benefiting them. We just knew that we and they were having fun.
In my mind, I can still picture Brooke pushing little Abbey on the swing and little Abbey perched there on it balancing, holding herself upright. They loved doing this. And those two girls rode bikes, jumped rope, played tag with friends, walked along curbs, and I had no idea that they were actually doing something beneficial for their bodies. I knew being active was key, but I had no idea that this type of play was creating a stronger core and balance in them. Whew! Score, because this mom just had no idea. I can tell you this: both girls were and are excellent students. I am no doctor, but I fully believe that their free play probably and most likely contributed to their success. They were able to focus, sit, and pay attention. All key things for every part of life, not just school.
So, what’s the take away?
Go enjoy those organized sports, but get out and free play with your child and encourage them to free play where they can build strength in their core area, build balance, and, best of all, have fun! It’s win-win!
And if you have grown kids, I encourage you to go out and have fun getting stronger in some way just for yourself. Maybe you will ride a bike, take a yoga class, or paddleboard. Whatever you choose, all of these will help you grow stronger and become more balanced in a good, positive way.
Last, but not least, if you have grandbabies, I encourage you to play with them and help them become stronger. At the very least, encourage their parents to go out and have fun playing/exercising with their own kids. The benefits are beyond measure.
Well, I am off to Tabata class. Time to get stronger in body and mind. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and Please comment on what you love to do with your kids and for yourself.
Blessings to you!
Brain Balance is a theory that I have been researching.
I hold no claims to developing the theory.
Brain Balance Centers are available in many states across the nation.