WALLINGFORD – The beginning of summer break is always a time of excitement for children. As the summer months drag on however, kids can become bored or disengaged.
I recently spoke with Don Crouch, resource development and marketing coordinator at the Ulbrich Boys and Girls Club, to get some feedback on how to keep kids active as the initial excitement of summer break begins to fade.
1. Limit screen time
children. When kids come into the Boys and Girls Club they have access to a "Genius Bar" complete with iPads and desk tops. However, Crouch said children are only able to access the lab after their scheduled activities. Monitoring children's screen time, and not eliminating it completely, gives children a healthy balance between electronic play and tangible engagement with their environment.
2. Keep activities social
Allowing children to engage with their peers in games like pickle ball, tag, and scavenger hunts brings a social component to movement. Riding bikes or playing Wiffle Ball with other local children is a convenient way for kids to stay active both socially and physically when school is not in session. Some parents might also choose to enroll their child in different types of camps throughout the summer.
3. Create daily structure
Structure is another essential component to creating consistency for children. This is the allure of summer programs, like those offered through the Boys and Girls club, the YMCA, or other organizations where childcare is a priority.
"You almost have to structure it like school," Crouch said.
It's true that adolescents thrive in a structured environment. When kids know what their day will consist of, it tends to make the transition from one activity to the next run more smoothly.
4. Nutrition is key
The same methodology is true for encouraging children to make healthy choices at mealtimes. Making nutritious food options available to children ensures the development of healthy habits from a young age. Many summer camps have nutritious meal and snack items available to children. Crouch said the Meriden-based nonprofit, Change the Play, allows the Boys and Girls Club to provide healthy breakfast and lunch options to camp members throughout the summer.
5. Exercise as play
Program Coordinator and Certified Personal Trainer, Christopher Bacote, proves that fun and planned programming complement one another. When kids come to the Boys and Girls Club, they’re active most of the day, playing different indoor and outdoor games.
“Fitness is what we do all day; running around and sweating,” Bacote said.
Bacote said his background as a personal trainer has helped him organize the children in national fitness competitions. By making these activities a game, many kids are able to exercise without even knowing that they're doing it.
Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris – https://dearfitkris.com/