As the busy school year progresses, it can be challenging for families to find time to play and stay active together. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that kids participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day, but unfortunately this isn’t always what they are getting.
Play is an important part of a child’s physical, emotional and social development, yet many external factors can quickly become barriers to active play including busy schedules, technology and the costs of sports equipment. A survey conducted by Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s Let’s Play initiative, which is dedicated to getting kids and their families active, found that only 33 percent of children are participating in active play daily, down from 41 percent in 2015.
Don’t let barriers get in the way of keeping kids active during the school year. Instead, turn those barriers to play into opportunities to get active with the following tips.
Fill down time with play time: Children’s active play time is impacted by busy schedules – 64 percent of parents said busy schedules were a barrier to play this year, up from 56 percent in 2015. Active play doesn’t have to happen all at once; it can be spread out through the day so try fitting it in when you can, even if it’s in 10-minute increments. Waiting with your kids at a bus stop? Make it active by playing a game of Simon Says. Need 10 minutes to get ready to leave the house? Send the kids outside to play before loading up the car.
Make DIY toys: Sports equipment can be pricey to purchase and maintain. Instead of breaking the bank, try recycling objects around the house to make them into toys. You can make old socks into a hacky-sack game by filling them with beans or fill balloons with sand and create a fun game where you toss the balloons into buckets.
Get wired for play: According to the survey, 78 percent of parents said their children spend more than 30 minutes on an average day watching television and 71 percent said their children spend that time on a computer, smartphone or other device. Instead of letting technology get in the way, incorporate play into their time with technology. Have your child play an active video game that encourages players to move around their environment or try playing a game between TV commercials, such as tag or hide and seek. It can also help to set a limit for how long your child can use the computer or watch TV per day.
Be your kid’s playmate: According to the survey, 53 percent of parents said having no playmates was a barrier to their child’s play. No one likes to play alone, so when siblings and friends aren’t available, join in on the fun and create games you and your child can play together. Whether it’s playing Marco Polo or throwing a baseball back and forth, you can find ways to spend quality time with your kids and have fun while doing it.
Learn more about the importance of play and get tips and advice for how to make active play a daily priority at LetsPlay.com.
*FF *Photo courtesy of Getty Images