The Ancient Greeks knew that the key to overall health was about conditioning the body and the mind. Athens was the home of both the gymnasium and Plato. Physical fitness is important, but so is developing beneficial learning patterns early on.
Children are more likely to continue exercising the mind when they learn to do it at a young age. Let’s look at a few ways kids can have some fun while giving their brains a workout.
1. Online Coding Classes
Learning how to make apps, programs, and video games is a lot more fun than it seems. It’s never been easier to take online classes that teach kids how to write code and how to use coding languages that professionals use every day.
Children will learn STEM skills they can apply in countless ways and the specific computer skills that open many doors when they’re ready to enter the workforce. Online coding classes are a perfect way to keep your child’s mind engaged from home, which explains their surge in popularity during the pandemic.
Knowing how to code will give them a leg up when it’s their time to hit the job market, but in the meantime, they’ll have so much fun that they won’t even realize they’re learning.
Listening to music can be soothing and soul-nourishing in ways that are hard to describe in words, but playing a musical instrument is even more fun! There are lots of places you can stream free, high-quality music lessons for kids.
Children don’t need to play Chopin or Bach on the piano to have a lot of fun playing music! Just being able to jam is enough, even if it means hitting a percussion instrument in time with their hand. Learning how to play a musical instrument doesn’t have to be intimidating: children can play thousands of songs after learning just a few chords on the guitar, ukulele, piano, or any other instruments.
Introduce a wide range of music in your child’s life — let them listen to music their peers like, but also show them the sounds you love that you think they will too. You probably grew up hearing your parent’s favourite songs, and no doubt their love for these tunes influenced the way you heard and appreciated them. Do the same for your kids by playing your cherished music around the house.
Music can expand your mind and help it grow, but it’s also calming when you need to be soothed, or it can be fun and upbeat when it’s time to party. In other words, whatever headspace your child is in, there’s an appropriate kind of music.
Finally, while young kids tend to love “kids music,” it doesn’t mean that you can’t expose them to more complicated forms of music intended for older people.
Humans are social animals, and we feel happy and restored when surrounded by friends and family. COVID-19 made in-person gatherings impossible, but that is changing now in certain places as case numbers are down and the vaccine rollout continues.
So long as you comply with what medical professionals and your government say is safe, spending quality time with friends is an indispensable aspect of mental health for your kids. If it’s warm enough, go outside for a family BBQ or a nice meal. If it’s colder, dress for the conditions so you can remain comfortable outdoors.
Getting quality time with close friends and family is a fundamental aspect of your kids’ healthy development. If being on a Zoom call is the only way to see people, do it. It’s very likely that they’ve had more than a few Zoom calls by now and may be tired of them. Just be careful to ensure your child doesn’t go too long without seeing close friends and relatives.
Who hasn’t come away from a visit with those close to us feeling bolstered, lighter, and happier?
4. Physical Exercise
Poets are known for being careful thinkers, but they have an old tradition of going for long walks. Getting fresh air, seeing new sights, and moving your body around clears the mind.
Whether it’s playing recreational or competitive sports, or simply going for a stroll, your kids’ mind will feel better and lighter after they get some exercise. Sometimes exercise is linked in unhealthy ways to body image, which is a fraught topic.
It’s good to avoid this subject altogether with young kids and keep the exercise simply about playing. Children don’t need to think about models, bodybuilders, or even professional athletes. Exercise can clear the mind and help us feel better, but be mindful not to mention anything about body image or how it will change people’s appearance, even as an improvement.
Parents need to be extra mindful of how their children are feeling and use any of the above approaches if they seem helpful. It can be hard to tell if people’s altered mood is because of the pandemic or for some other unrelated reason. Neil Young once sang that “we are only what we feel,” so implement these activities in your child’s life to improve their mood and ensure they’re safe, productive, and happy.