When I think of ways to get kids more active every day, two key factors come to mind first: fun and family! Being a “kid at heart” in my own right, I’m a big believer in finding ways to play and have fun with the whole family (and by “play” I mean physical, active play).
In my experience as VP of Product and Curriculum at The Little Gym, any physical activity that incorporates play and fun is likely to be popular with children. The key factor here is that if the physical activity is fun and playful, the child will want to do it. On the other hand, any physical activity that kids don’t like, that they may feel pressured to do, and that feels more like a “must” or a chore is likely to get a big “thumbs up.” down”.
Related: Let Them Play! Toddlers need 3 hours of physical activity a day
As far as the family is concerned, children who regularly see their parents doing physical activity are more likely to do it themselves. And, engaging in physical activity as a family can also have other social and emotional benefits for the family.
One way to get kids moving is to combine the elements of fun and family in what I’ll call ‘gamified’ family activities. Whenever you can “gamify” a typical family activity, kids will be inspired to participate. Whether it’s enhancing your normal family walk or turning chores around the house into family exercises, here are some ways to gamify your family’s daily routine.
Read on to discover three ways to inspire kids to be more active.
1. Typical family activity: Take a family walk
“Gamified” version: “Challenges around the block”
Take a “family walk” around the block, but make it more fun by creating contests and challenges. Decide what the challenges are before you begin. Then go! Here are some ideas to get you started:
– Count the number of different license plates you see on cars
– Count how many dogs or cats you see
– Who can be the first person to see an orange car? (or other agreed item/object)
Related: The Family Summer To-Do List: 50 Activities To Do With Your Kids During Those Long Days ⛱
2. Typical family activity: Going to the park or playground
“Gamified” version: “Park Dice”
Take a family visit to the local park or playground. However, take a set of dice and “gamify” it! Here are some ideas to get you started:
– Children/family members take turns rolling a dice on the picnic table. Whichever number he lands on is the number of runs down the slide everyone has to do, as fast as they can! Root each other!
– Another family member rolls the dice to find out how many laps each has to go around the monkey bars!
– Provide fun and creative challenges that interact with the different playground features. Agree on an activity and a playground feature and roll the dice again!
3. Typical family activity: Family chores around the house
“Gamified” version: “Family Chore Lottery”
Whenever the family has a “chore day” around the house, “gamify” it to add inspiration, fun, and an element of reward. Here are some ideas to get you started:
– Each family keeps track of how many chores they have done throughout the day around the house.
– At the end of the day, each member of the family writes his name on a small piece of paper (“lottery ticket”) for each chore he has done; four chores = four pieces of paper with the name.
– Put all the lottery tickets in a bowl.
– Someone closes their eyes and randomly draws a ticket from the bowl. The name on the raffle ticket is the person who chooses the dessert for the evening, the family movie to watch, or another fun family reward! The more chores a person does, the more lottery tickets they have in the bowl and the more chances they have of winning!
4. A final suggestion to inspire children to be more active: plan it!
As with many things, if you plan it out and fit it into a timeline or schedule, it’s more likely to happen. So make it a weekly routine to have a family meeting to discuss and plan physical and family activities for the week. It may be useful to define certain parameters and requirements. For instance:
– Minimum of three activities of 30 to 60 minutes per week
– Activities must not exceed the price limit (if a cost is involved)
– Each member of the family has a say
– If it works for your family, choose a family “treat” after the last activity of the week!
Related: Your guide to age-appropriate responsibilities from toddlers to teens
Every parent knows that there is no shortage of time children are sedentary these days. Studies continue to reveal the importance of physical activity in a child’s life – the benefits of which are seemingly endless, ranging from physical fitness, to stress reduction, to improved brain health, function and more!
Inspiring and motivating your kids to get up and move can be a challenge. But, if parents can inspire their children by being active role models and creating opportunities for the family to do activities together, chances are your family can start moving together. If you can tap into your kids’ innate desire to play and have fun by gamifying some of your routine family activities, your kids might start asking for more! So take the time to plan some fun “gamified” family activities and make them part of your family’s daily routine.
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