Summer habits to keep kids healthy
School's out! Here are 9 tips to prevent weight gain and learning loss during summer break.
Summer vacation is a time for kids to unwind from the pressures of the school year, but research shows that too much idle time can lead to unhealthy habits.
A lack of structure during the summer makes children more vulnerable to weight gain, according to the National Institutes of Health. The U.S. Department of Education also cautions that students who are not involved in some form of summer learning can lose more than two months of progress in math and reading skills.
While you don't want to completely take away the relaxed nature of summer, experts suggest that sticking to daily routines and encouraging activities can go a long way in preserving healthy habits. Here are some tips that can help:
Keep Kids Active
- Play more. Exercise doesn't have to be structured. Fly a kite, go on a scavenger hunt, run through a sprinkler or play tag.
- Support kids' interests. Summer is the perfect time to let kids try out activities that interest them. If they like dancing, swimming or hiking, help them pursue their passions.
- Enjoy active family outings. Take a trip to the playground. Explore a local park. Spend an afternoon at the zoo.
Encourage Healthy Eating
- Keep daily routines. Eating breakfast is a healthy way to start the day and helps prevents weight gain. Sticking to regular meal times helps avoid overeating or excess snacking.
- Stock healthy snacks. Keep healthy snacks on hand such as whole fruit and single-serving sized bags of low-fat and low-sugar snacks.
- Limit screen time.Television and video games encourage snacking and have even been shown to temporarily slow down a child's metabolism.
Plan Summer Learning Activities
- Create a reading challenge. Set a goal for your child to read a specific number of books this summer. Offer incentives if the goal is met.
- Make math fun. Cooking is a great way to practice adding, subtracting and fractions. Play math games. Collect items outdoors and then sort and count them.
- Plan educational trips. Parks, museums, zoos and nature centers offer low-cost educational opportunities for day trips or as part of family vacations.