Family & Parenting

Challenge your children to some physical activity this summer

Tyrone sports coach and Core Kids founder Gary Wallace shares his advice on how to keep kids active and moving over the summer months

Tyrone sports coach Gary Wallace and his son Josh are challenging themselves to cycle from Omagh to Rossnowlagh this summer

WITH so much extra free time and the long bright evenings, summer months present a perfect opportunity to introduce children to new physical activities, sports and hobbies that they can enjoy alone, with friends or with the whole family.

So how do you keep kids entertained, engaged and motivated for physical activities and outdoor fun this summer?

Firstly schedule some activities. Sit down with your child or children and ask them what they want to do this summer.

Engaging children in the decision-making process gives them some control and input into their own activities and having plans gives them something to look forward to. Let their imagination run wild. You can help them with suggestions or do some research together.

When it comes to physical activities, by giving children more choices, they feel empowered in the decision and feel like they have some active involvement over how they are spending their day.

Whether you're at home or you're out enjoying some of the amazing outdoor spaces that we have right on our doorstep, here are some great options for activities at different types of locations, that will help to keep the kids occupied and active:

AT HOME

Keep children active at home by creating your own Garden Olympic Games. Activities such as running, skipping, tennis-ball shot put, and long jump will get kids moving and having fun. You can even make your own medals.

AT THE BEACH

Games like beach volleyball and frisbee are a great way to pass the time and don't require much in the way of equipment. You can also entertain the kids with sandcastle building, racing up the sand dunes or getting them to create beach art using stones and shells they've found on the beach.

FORESTS

Forests are great for walking, running and mountain biking and provide a great way to explore what's on your own doorstep or discover something new. Incorporating hide and seek into your walking route or path is a great way to keep kids motivated and engaged throughout a walk.

IN THE PARK/AT A CAMPSITE

To set up a game of rounders, all you need is a tennis racket and a ball; bring along a hula hoop and set your child a challenge to see how long they can keep it going or play a game of keepy-ups with the football. If there are other kids on the campsite, it's also a great opportunity to play a big game of tag or a game of football or rugby.

Making things into a challenge that the kids choose and agree to is a brilliant way to build confidence, resilience, strength and character. Physical activities and challenges are a great way to encourage these traits in children; they may find the challenges tough in parts, but the sense of achievement they feel once they reach their goal is priceless.

My 12-year-old son Josh and I are challenging ourselves to cycle from Omagh to Rossnowlagh this summer. We aren't worried about completing the distance, we just want to take our time and enjoy the moment.

Here are some examples of challenges, you can undertake with the family this summer:

CLIMB A MOUNTAIN – Choose any mountain or hill near you. The best thing about this challenge is that you don't have to go the whole way to the top. When my son and I took on this challenge, we climbed Mount Errigal in Donegal. When we started out, it was very daunting for him, so I just said let's make it that first rock, then I picked different landmarks along the way to focus on, taking it one part at a time and before we both knew it, we were at the top. He still talks about the day we climbed Errigal.

EXERCISE THE BRAIN – My son is currently learning the guitar and I thought it would be a great challenge this summer to learn it too. It's something we can practice together on our own and it also keeps the mind active and away from any screen time.

HELP THE COMMUNITY – Something we love to do as a family is the monthly beach clean in Rossnowlagh. It's a great way to keep the whole family active and teach valuable life lessons along the way.

:: Core Kids and Core Tiny Tots Summer Camps are taking place in locations across Northern Ireland and Donegal this summer, with prices starting at £32.50. More information at Coreniportal.com/booking.php.

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Family & Parenting