26th June 2017.When school lets out for the holidays, no one is more excited than your children. It's an opportunity to spend time away from educational responsibilities, to relax, and to have fun. Every parent wants to ensure their kids don't spend the holidays cooped up indoors the whole time, however. With the allure of video games and electronic devices stronger than ever, it's important to encourage physical activity. The summer should be a time for fun, but that doesn't have to mean sitting indoors and avoiding the hot weather. That's where you come back into the picture: your goal should be to create plenty of opportunities for active fun and exercise. The key is in the way you present the activity. Taking your kids for a run is a hard sell; organising a game with some of their friends is something to excite any child. With that in mind, what are some of the best activities you can engage in with your kids over their holiday? There's no shortage of variety available ? and you should use your imagination, too. To help you start planning, here are eight ideas you can use and adapt for your family. Before you know it, your kids will clamour for the chance to go outside and play with you.
- Football is an easy classic everyone loves
For the ultimate summer fun with a low cost to begin, you can't beat football. Play in your backyard or a local park; if you have some green space to kick around the ball, your kids can have a blast. Organise an actual game with some friends, or just have fun practising kicking the ball around. You could even simplify the game down to "keepaway." Whoever has control of the ball must keep it away from everyone else. That often leads to plenty of joking, laughing, and running around. At the end of the day, your kids will be totally worn out but jubilant. The best part of using a football is the ability to return time and again to this game throughout the holidays.
- Have you considered flying a kite?
A classic family activity, kite-flying is easier to start doing than it might seem. Many stores sell kite kits perfect for families with young children. All you need is a wide-open space like a local park with plenty of room to let your kite catch the wind. Once you and your kids get the hang of keeping the kite in the air, you can experiment with different types of kites and manoeuvres. Children will love hanging on tight to the kite string or chasing after them as you take over the controls. Plus, it's easy to keep the kite stored and ready for a day with the perfect weather. Use this one to add variety to your plans.
- Swim for fitness ? and to cool off
Warm weather is nice, but sweltering temperatures aren't so fun. When the mercury climbs, it can be difficult to encourage kids to go outside into the heat. Swimmingis the perfect solution. Not only is it a very healthy fitness activity, but children can come up with tonnes of games to play in the water. You may have a pool at home, or you could choose to purchase a small inflatable pool instead. Community pools are also a good option if one is near your home. While it's not something you can do with the kids every day, it's perfect for those especially warm days. If your child particularly loves swimming, this is an opportunity to encourage them to develop their abilities in the water.
- Have the kids run through a backyard obstacle course
If you want to get creative, consider putting together a challenging gauntlet for your children to run. Obstacle courses challenge both physical fitness and spatial abilities. Choose a small reward to offer for completing the course, like a frozen treat or an inexpensive toy. Then you can start setting up the course. Old tyres (or other circular objects) are excellent for physical conditioning as you step over each one. Maybe you'll create a small climbing wall, or erect hurdles low enough for children to jump over them. Use cones to create a path to follow as they run the course. Your imagination is the limit here, and you can always mix and match different obstacle course ideas over the holiday. You might even want to run it yourself.
- Set up shuttle races or skill games
Obstacle courses aren't the only athletic games you can set up in the backyard. Think about those cones we just talked about using. What if you set up shuttle runs or relay races for your child and his or her friends to experience? It's an easy way to introduce some healthy competition into your holiday games, while also burning off plenty of energy. You could also set up games like a ring toss. Challenging your child's hand-eye coordination is just as important as a healthy body. You want to encourage the development of their health and wellness together; that means including some fun mental stimulation in between the physical challenges. Again: feel free to be creative. Play to your child's strengths and interests to keep them engaged.
- Try geocaching in your local area
Want to go a little further away from home? Geocaching is an excellent activity with which kids easily fall in love. All you need is a GPS unit, and you've probably already got one right in your pocket ? on your phone! Geocaching involves plugging in coordinates from a central website and then exploring towards those coordinates. Hidden somewhere at the location is a small weatherproof box. Your family gets to open the box, take one item, and leave one item behind. It's an activity that is fun and exciting for all ages. You might be surprised to learn just how many geocaches lurk around your local area, too. Geocaching is a safe activity that motivates kids to stay active while they "hunt for hidden treasure."
- Go on a walk along a nature trail
No good geocaching opportunities in the nearby area? It does happen sometimes. Look for a nature path or gentle hiking trail instead. You don't need to go on a full-fledged hike, although that is a solid choice if you can interest your child. Otherwise, just go for a long walk in the great outdoors. Make a game out of the walk: ask questions about trees, insects, or animals. Have your child point out things they're curious about and try to answer their questions. There are all kinds of trail games you can play, and the opportunity to see new things is a reward on its own. When you don't feel like playing at home, a relaxing walk may be just what everyone needs.
- Create a small scavenger hunt
Encourage your child's natural curiosity and desire to explore by creating a list for a scavenger hunt. You can hide items around your home, or you can plan this in conjunction with geocaching or a nature walk. Use this as a learning opportunity and a chance to teach your child about the world in which they live. Do basic tree identification, or try to locate birds and insects. For especially young children, this can help to reinforce reading skills while also keeping them active. As they run about searching for the items on the list, they'll learn how to navigate challenges on their own. It's great fun to come up with the list, and even more enjoyable to watch the family come together to find everything. Explore all your options ? and ask your kids Whether you opt to fly a kite or go on a nature walk, a fun and friendly atmosphere will help lock in your child's love for outdoor activity. Who needs video games or the TV when you've found your new favourite game? Not only will you be able to enjoy enriching your family's life, but you'll know it does your child's body good, too. Promoting physical activity outside is an important step on the road to fostering a lifelong commitment to fitness and healthy choices in your child. They just don't need to know how good it is for them yet! What will you do together first this summer? Follow @SportNessUK