Holiday Break – Fun for the Family

by Mama Chocolate on November 18, 2011

Article submitted by Kathleen Thomas on behalf of Primrose Schools

Staying Active Over Holiday Break

Childhood obesity in America has reached astounding proportions in the last 20 years. Nearly 33 percent of children and adolescents in the United States are considered overweight or obese, according to statistics reported by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/obesity_in_children_and_teens). Part of this problem stems from the sedentary lifestyle habits of children, which is perpetuated by sedentary caregivers. Children are not as active as they could or should be and research evidences parents or primary caregivers as key in making the difference to reverse the slump, particularly when it comes to staying active during Holiday breaks.

The earlier you introduce an active lifestyle in your child’s life the more likely he will grow into an active teen and adult. Regular physical activity promotes healthy cognitive processes, physical wellness and normal growth of bones, muscles and organs. If you begin this behavior before sending your child to child care it will prepare them for gym classes in preschool and so on.

Children have a natural developmental instinct to move, explore, grasp, throw and kick as they reach milestone ages. Nurture motor skills, coordination and movement in your child and augment these milestones with continued emphasis on play that includes physical activity. Just as a child has a developmental instinct for motion, she also has to be shown how to properly move to master simple activity like throwing or catching a ball, running or balance.

Holiday break is a wonderful time to teach new and active skills to your child or practice the skills they learn during physical education class at school. Before break, plan a daily schedule of activities to participate in with your child. Include all family members that can join to make it a fun and memorable affair.

During warmer months of Holiday break, choose safe outside activities that complement the developmental stage of your child’s learning. If you include the whole family, find activities that each age group can enjoy. For instance, schedule a game of back-yard-ball and assign roles to each player based on his abilities. Rotate the roles to give each team member a new responsibility to learn but also keep the mood fun and encourage your child. Teach new skills through modeling behaviors and challenge your child without making him feel he has to compete if he is not ready. For younger children, schedule a few games of hide and seek, which can be a challenging physical activity that also includes skills like counting, running to avoid getting tagged and provoking creative thought. Plan a day at the beach or park to include a picnic, throwing a flying disc, boomerang or when available play basketball or volleyball. During the spring and summer months you might also schedule a day for swimming lessons.

Cooler months of Holiday break can be active times as well but you might have to get creative. Indoor community centers offer a host of options for family activity or you can utilize the space in your basement or garage. Set up a disco in the den or garage and teach your children funky dances. Small children enjoy a game of follow the leader or you can involve the family in a daily walk at an indoor track.

A short 20 minutes of activity a day is a good foundation for motivating activity in your child. You might find that you have so much fun, the family, your child and you end up playing for much longer. Start healthy habits early in the life of your child and encourage every step she takes in learning active skills. The best way to ensure your children maintain an active lifestyle is through leading by example and a cohesive family unit strengthens the foundation for a lifetime of good, healthy choices.

 

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Skye Moyer November 18, 2011 at 12:42 am

We always try to keep going during holiday breaks.
Even a walk to and from the mail box gets my kids outta the house and into the fresh air!
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The Jacobsen Family November 18, 2011 at 12:49 am

We homeschool, so “holiday breaks” dont really happen, but we still try to keep the kids active. My kids have a kids yoga DVD they enjoy doing, which is their new favorite way of being active indoors. I love it cause it causes NO mess! ;)
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Danielle @ We Have It All November 18, 2011 at 7:23 am

Great tips, thanks!

We try to go to the kid play gym during breaks because the kids get too antsy… too bad we have to pay for it though. Dancing in the basement is a fantastic idea, thanks!!
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Ashley T November 18, 2011 at 8:48 am

Those are awesome ideas. My kids don’t have a “holiday break” but we’re always looking for new ways to help them get exercise over the weekend. Thanks for the information!
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Stacie November 18, 2011 at 9:02 am

Great ideas to keep the kids busy! I know I’m going to have to get creative this winter, mine are already starting to adhere to the couch.
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