Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good, old-fashioned fun for kids: Activities that don't involve TV or a computer

As parents we want to give our children every opportunity possible. If we have the money we enrol our children into after school and summer time activities. When we do not have the money it is much harder to involve our children in activities that don’t involve TV or computer. Even more so when our children are latch key kids and we don’t control what they do from the time they get home and we do. There are places that it is just not safe to let our children hang out. At the park with their friends, or even ride their bikes around the block. As parents we have the job of finding safe activities for our children that does not always involve TV or a computer.

The younger our children are the easier it is for us to expose them to all kinds of activates. They actually still like spending time with us. So we need to get them interested in some thing other then TV, video games and the computer. Most younger kids will prefer to spend time playing with their parents, siblings and friends then watching TV or being on the computer. So as long as we are willing to play with them and have activities to do it is easy to control younger children’s TV and computer usage. The best part is that as we spend more time with our kids playing and paying attention to them we will usually notice improvements in their behaviours. They are getting positive attention from us and will usually reduce negative behaviours they were using to get our attention. We also get to know our kids better, and they are learning so much just by playing with us or doing fun activities. It is a win win situation. The real question is what do 8 to 12 year old children like to do? You want activities they enjoy and be safe doing.

After school programs are wonderful for both boys and girls. Where we live there are programs for almost any thing you can think of; Karate or self-defence, dance, music or band, cooking, astronomy, 4H club, any sports, gymnastics, swimming, marching band, computer club, chess, even a go cart racing club. The options are only limited by location, availability of the program and money. There are quite a few programs that have a different price rate for lower income families, like our local recreational community centre and pool. They let us pay less to join and get our children into different programs. City Kids, YMCA, YWCA and many church groups also have free programs or are priced for lower income families.

For activities in the home parents have to find something their children like, and then be supportive and whenever possible participate with them. Here are some in home activities, please note that some will require adult supervision.

Games: board or others like the Yugioh card game.
Crafts and art: Sculpting with wire, clay or paper mache. Jewelry designing and making. Ceramics, painting, drawing, model making, and needle crafts.
Writing: Poems, stories, songs, or plays.
Designing clothing: learn how to make, alter or accessories clothing.
Cooking: from helping with a meal, making cakes and cookies to making the meal with adult supervision. Creating new foods, trying new foods can all be fun. This one also helps get kids to eat their vegetables and try new things.
Designing and building: Lego’s, building sets, wood or cardboard. Kits are great here, miniatures can add a lot.
Theatrical arts: Singing, dancing, learning to play a musical instrument, make plays and act in them, learning magic tricks.
Science: CSI kits, Spy kits, Chemistry kits are all great ways to stimulate children’s interest.

These are great activities that do not involve TV or a computer. They let our children grow and explore. Just right to keep our children entertained and safe. What is important is that we turn off the TV and the computer. If we want our kids to be doing something other then watching TV or being attached to the computer then we cannot tell them to not do it only to go do it ourselves. As hard as it is going to be we that adults have to also reduce our TV and computer time and do other things, and if we are luck it will be with our kids if they let us. What is the point of going to all the effort of finding what your kids like, set it up only to have you go sit in front of the TV or computer. That is not going to work. To keep our kids doing activities, we have to be setting a good example and become active ourselves.

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