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For kids, weekends are opportunities to blow off steam and step away from the rigors of their classrooms. They provide a healthy break that can help sustain academic performance. Much like how many adults spend Monday through Friday working for the weekend, kids also get excited when Friday afternoon comes around. This is not to say, however, that the weekends have to be completely devoid of educational content and activities.
There are several ways for kids to relax and enjoy their weekends, while still support their school learning in small but impactful ways. The weekend can also be a time to learn new things that might not be possible during the hectic school week.
Identifying fun, positive activities
You know your kids, so you probably have a pretty good idea about what they like and dislike. If your children gravitate toward video games and technology, try to find positive and enriching uses of their devices and game consoles. Recognize that there are positive cognitive and hand-eye coordination benefits of video games, just try to balance their use with some screen-free time or more educational online options. If you try to prohibit video games, you may face negative backlash and secretive behavior to avoid getting yelled at.
Online games and activities, for example, can help connect the classroom with technology. There are numerous options for online science learning from videos to games that incorporate coding elements. With these activities, kids can learn to experiment in their normal daily routines. Such experimentation improves cognition, but also strengthens attitude and resilience, so challenges are met with positivity. For example, you and your kids can use a few household items to make homemade puffy paint. Your little mad scientists will be amazed with the burst of colors while learning how chemicals work together to form something magical.
Testing the waters with new activities
If you can indulge your child’s desire for video games, then you may be able to get them to agree to try some new things, too. Make a simple bargain, such as allowing a certain number of hours of video game playing as long as a new sport, game or activity is attempted. If your child has never tried kayaking, encourage learning the activity as a family. Incorporating physical activity, such as running or playing tennis has the added benefit of helping battle childhood obesity by establishing healthy routines at an early age. And back at home, certain non-physical, and non-technological activities can make the basis for weekend fun.
Introducing musical fun
Your child likely already has a musical component of their education. Most school incorporate music theory, appreciation and encourage either learning an instrument or participating in chorus. While some children may love their band or orchestra instruments, others may merely associate their violin or trumpet with work. This is unfortunate since music is often more about fun than drudgery. Interest in and appreciation of music can fuel one’s life.
Encourage your children to use their school instruments for fun. Music can be a lifelong hobby, especially when children become comfortable with experimenting and enjoying their instrument of choice. Practice according to the schedule established by a music teacher is essential, but creativity thrives when a child is permitted to do what they wish with the instrument. Music as a home-based activity has cognitive and mental health benefits as well.
To help spur creativity, consider making music a family endeavor. If, for example, your child is learning to play the saxophone, pick one up yourself and learn along on the weekends. A student sax can be purchased online or you can explore rental options from local music stores. If your child plays guitar, maybe other family members can pick up the bass or drums and be able to play some music together in a family setting.
Weekends are for relaxing, but that does not have to mean sleeping all day or wasting away in front of a screen. Encourage learning, fun and hobbies - and make sure that it all seems different and exciting. Your kids may ultimately learn just as much - if not more - than they do during the week at school. Just don’t let them know about all the educational benefits. Let them figure it out themselves as they enjoy their new activities.