As parents, we want what’s best for our children. We want them to be happy and healthy and to grow into well-rounded adults. Research also backs up the importance of raising kids who are holistically developed. For instance, early childhood educators in Australia are urged under the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) of the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) to concentrate more on a child’s holistic approach to learning than on the conventional academic benchmarks of intelligence.
While there are many things beyond our control, there are some things we can do to help encourage our kids to develop holistically. Here are four activities that can help.
1. Get Them Outside Every Day
Fresh air and physical activity are essential for children of all ages. It’s important to encourage kids to spend time outside every day, even if it’s just for a little while. Fresh air has been shown to improve mood, cognitive function, and overall physical health, while physical activity helps kids stay active and fit. If you can, try to get your kids outside for at least an hour a day.
There are also summer camps for kids that focus on outdoor activities and adventure. These can be a great way to get kids interested in nature and the outdoors while also helping them make new friends and learn new skills. There are also specific camps for kids with different interests, such as science or art.
2. Encourage Imagination Through Play
Whether it’s with dolls or action figures, building blocks, or painting supplies, it’s important to give children the opportunity to use their imaginations through play. This helps them develop creativity, problem-solving skills, and emotional intelligence. It also allows them to explore different aspects of their personalities in a safe and loving environment.
So how can you encourage imagination through play? One way is to provide open-ended toys that can be used in various ways. For example, blocks can be used to build towers or houses, balls can be rolled or thrown, and dolls can be cuddled or dressed up. Another way to encourage imagination is to give kids plenty of time to play without interference from adults. This allows them to get lost in their play and use their imaginations to the fullest. So next time your child is off playing, resist the urge to jump in and offer suggestions. Instead, let them lead the way and see where their imagination takes them.
3. Promote Healthy Eating Habits
What we eat has a profound effect on our physical and mental health. It’s important to teach kids about the importance of healthy eating habits from an early age. This means avoiding sugary drinks and processed foods as much as possible and instead focusing on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbs.
One way to do this is to lead by example. If you want your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, make sure you’re eating them yourself. You can also involve your kids in the cooking process — let them help with meal planning and prep work. This will make them more likely to eat what’s on their plate and better understand where their food comes from and how it’s made.
Another way to promote healthy eating habits is to make meals and snacks more fun and appealing. Give veggies some pizzazz by adding dips or dressings, or turn fruits into fun shapes with cookie cutters. And instead of sugary drinks, offer kids healthy options like water or milk. With a little creativity, you can make healthy eating enjoyable for the whole family.
Of course, it’s also important to let kids indulge occasionally — Balance is key! — but promoting healthy eating habits will set them up for success later in life.
4. Limit Screen Time
This one can be tough for parents! With so much of our lives happening online these days, it’s hard to keep screen time under control. But too much screen time has been linked with everything from attention problems and sleep issues to obesity and anxiety. Experts recommend limiting screen time to no more than two hours per day for children aged six and up (with less being better). So how can you strike the right balance? Here are a few tips:
- Set clear limits on screen time. Whether it’s an hourly or daily limit, make sure your kids know how much time they can spend on devices.
- Create opportunities for screen-free activities. Plan family outings, encourage outdoor play and find other ways to engage your kids in the world around them.
- Set an example. If you want your kids to Limit their screen time, you need to do the same. Put away your phone during family meals, disconnect from work when you’re with your kids, and prioritize spending time together.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your kids have a healthy relationship with technology.
Raising holistically developed kids takes effort and dedication — but it’s worth it! By incorporating some (or all) of the tips listed above into your family routine, you can help your kids grow into well-rounded, physically healthy, mentally sharp, emotionally intelligent, and creatively inclined adults. What could be better than that?