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Research suggests that children and young people can lose up to 80% of their fitness levels over the six-week summer holiday.
Without the daily routine or the walk to school, it can be difficult to prioritise regular exercise, especially if children want to socialise with friends and enjoy some much-needed downtime.
Parents can feel under pressure to deliver six weeks of summer fun, especially over the duration of the school summer holidays. So how can parents keep children entertained and inspire them to remain active week after week?
The good news is you don’t need to spend lots of money to have a fantastic day.
An active lifestyle keeps children motivated and will bring about improved mood, positive behaviour and a happier household – ingredients which add up to a harmonious summer holiday for parents and kids alike.
Rather than feel under pressure, see this as an opportunity to plan some fun summer activities. It might just take a bit of creativity and forward-planning but you’re more likely to have happy kids all summer long.
We’ve consulted some of our activity coaches and former PE teachers to get some inspiring ideas and fun activities for keeping children active over the summer holidays.
While children need a break from school, they don’t need a break from structure or routine. In fact, many children thrive on it.
Whether it’s a daily walk, outdoor play or making a commitment to screen-free time before lunchtime, young people will relish the repetition. If not, it’s easy for moods to slump and energy levels to decline.
Making a commitment to an active routine during the school holidays will ensure children keep moving throughout the entirety of the summer holidays. And if you miss a session? Make it up the following day so momentum isn’t lost.
Home life can be tiring for parents and children alike, but living a healthy, active lifestyle as a parent will encourage your children to do the same.
Or even better, why not workout together? The Joe Wicks workouts aren’t just for lockdown – they’re a fun and free way to get the family moving together at any time and are suited to all ages and abilities.
There are plenty of free online resources such as Cosmic Kids Yoga or our Stay Active activity cards which make for ideal summer holiday activities.
Commit to a 10-20 minute workout three times a week and you’ll be guaranteed to keep each other motivated. It’s also a great way to start a fun family day together.
This is especially good for days when children are with grandparents or at a friend’s house. Ask your child to make a video diary of their day.
They’ll be eager to show you all the things they’ve done, and you can watch the video together at the end of the day to give praise and recognition for everything they’ve achieved.
The outside is free. With the cost of living crisis, finding free activities to entertain the children or ways to save money is more important than ever.
No matter if you’re rural or city-based, there will always be a local park to visit. If you regularly go to the same local park, take a trip to explore a new one. Why not create a chart and review each park you visit based on facilities and fun-factor?
A new environment will stimulate a new adventure. Break the familiarity – try other settings such as woodlands, public footpaths or beaches to take the fun further afield. Make daisy chains, build dens, and create an imaginary magical world in the woods. They make fun and wholesome summer activities in nature that kids love. There’s no better time to get motivated than when the weather is good and daylight hours are at their peak!
Thanks to the Holiday Activity and Food programme (HAF) there are opportunities to enrol your child onto free activity camps, which run for four weeks of the summer holidays, for four hours of four days each week.
The provision is open to any child with a free school meals code and comes with healthy food provided. Each council offers different provisions, but you may find you’re entitled to a range of activities such as performing arts, football, dance or table tennis – great for inspiring activity in young people!
For children who love playing computer games, getting them to enjoy spending time off-screen can be a challenge.
A good way to compromise is to encourage children to replicate the ‘in-game’ activity they’ve participated in. If they’ve enjoyed a particular match on Fifa, ask them to re-enact the highlights with a football in the back garden. Or have they explored a new world on Minecraft? Re-enact that adventure with props around the house! It encourages in-person communication while breaking up sedentary screen time.
There will be a host of summer camps and summer schools happening in your local area, some of which will be free to join. Think outside the box and contact local venues such as bowls clubs, ice-hockey rinks, gymnastics clubs or sport leagues. There will be summer holiday activities for kids, open days, family fun days and camps which will give your child a chance to experience a new sport and make friends in the process. Or your child’s school will have links to reputable holiday clubs to join.
Sharing household chores with the whole family helps to reinforce a positive work ethic as well as values such as teamwork, hard work and respect. Whether it’s washing the car, tidying the toys, helping to dust the bedrooms or hoovering, children will be doing something active which promotes a sense of achievement… especially if there’s a little reward at the end of it!
Visiting a local library might sound as though it doesn’t require much physical exertion but it couldn’t be further from the truth! Most libraries are located close to play parks, so it’s easy to make a day of it and take a picnic. Walking there will not only deliver a dose of fresh air but it’s good exercise, especially wearing a rucksack full of books to carry home afterwards. Plus many libraries run their own exciting events for children to take part in, which get both brains stimulated and bodies moving at the same time!
Don’t let the rain put you off!
Kids love an indoor treasure hunt and it’s a great way to get them moving. From hiding the treasure to creating the clues and designing a treasure map, a treasure hunt will suit all ages and teach them about reading and decoding clues. Fill a makeshift treasure chest with ice lollies or treats as a much-needed reward.
Or don’t underestimate a fun art and crafts session. Plan different activities each time and don’t forget to recycle items like old loo rolls or milk cartons which can be transformed into active play toys such as rockets or make-shift relay batons!
A little friendly competition can go a long way. Challenge siblings, friends or neighbours to engage in a summer back-garden Olympics incorporating some of the following fun and creative activities:-
It’s a fun and social way to keep active with siblings or friends whilst incorporating fundamental movement skills such as running, jumping, throwing and catching. It can be scaled up to suit the abilities of older kids too. Write down everyone’s results and repeat the activity later in the holiday. Encourage and motivate each other to show progress and make your own medals or certificates for everyone who takes part.