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Parents are children’s first teachers and role models and what you do has a great influence on them. As little babies they like to copy you as you stick out your tongue, shake a rattle or say “mama mama” and as they grow they will imitate you in other ways.
If you want to influence your children positively then having hobbies that will benefit both you and them is a great way to get them into good habits for life.
Reading together with your child can improve their speech and language skills and is important to their future academic success. Numerous studies have shown that reading together for just 20 minutes a day has a whole host of benefits to children; Reading for 20 minutes a day means that your child will hear 1.8 million words read aloud in a year, and as books use much wider vocabulary than we do in everyday life, this is particularly beneficial to increasing children’s vocabulary and also their ability to decode the meaning of words when heard in context.
Reading together, and modeling reading as an important pursuit can help to instill a lifelong love of books and reading in your child. Reading for pleasure is a key coder for academic success.
Just as importantly, reading for pleasure can set your child up for less stress and more emotional stability, as research has found that those who read regularly for enjoyment are less prone to stress and depression.
Books transport us to different worlds, different cultures and let us experience a whole host of different characters and this, in turn, prepares children for diversity in the world around them. It allows children to gain emotional literacy by exploring different scenarios and feelings and increases the ability to empathize, resulting in a feeling of connection to others and more pro-social behaviours.
Martial arts are self-defense practices, like karate, judo and tae kwon do. They focus on individual progress and self-discipline and therefore make a great lifelong hobby.
There are many different forms of martial arts but all use deliberate, repetitive motions and emphasize the connection between mind and body. For younger children, this is a great way to perfect gross motor skills and increase muscular strength and control which is an important part of development.
For older children and youths, martial arts are a brilliant way to build physical and mental strength, confidence, coordination, and self-esteem.
Whether you opt for a family class or enroll your children in classes segregated by age, martial arts is a hobby that will serve your child for a lifetime.
“The great outdoors” is a common phrase, but actually just being outside has great benefit to babies, toddler, and young children as well as adults, teenagers and the elderly. It benefits the whole family to spend time outside.
Our evolutionary history primes us to need significant time outside as hunter-gatherer societies would be predominantly outside and active. This lifestyle allowed for exposure to the sun, regular movement and plenty of fresh air. All of these are important for our bodies to function correctly. For example, exposure to the sun causes the skin to produce vitamin D which helps the body to absorb calcium and increase bone density.
As well as increasing the production of vitamin D, being outside causes the human body to produce more serotonin; the ‘feel-good’ hormone. Being outdoors makes humans happy!
Spending time together hiking as a family is a wonderful way to increase both health and happiness. Hikes needn’t belong or grueling, there are usually family friendly, shorter trails that can be mapped out, the important thing is getting outside and doing something together!
Being outdoors also prompts a stronger connection to nature and the environment, as we get to experience the weather and the seasons as they change and transition In addition to this, walking together increase feelings of harmony and communication is more free-flowing when two people are actively engaged in doing something alongside one another. Hiking is the ideal hobby for families looking to increase their communication and connectedness. But the preparedness like great sneakers is an important step before starting hiking.
Drowning is still one of the most common causes of accidental death in children, so being able to swim is an essential life-saving skill. Swimming is the only sport that could save your child’s life!
Swimming is a great way to keep in shape, increasing strength, stamina, and flexibility. It also improves balance, posture and cardiovascular fitness.
It is a great family sport to start at a young age as many babies naturally love water; the younger they are when you begin taking them the less likely they are to become scared or fearful about getting into the water. Once your child has water confidence, they can learn life-saving skills such as self-righting, floating, and holding on to the edge of the pool.
Having fun in the pool together is a great way for a family to bond, and grandparents often love to get involved in this activity too!
Learning to swim also opens up the door to a range of other activities, such as kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving, sailing, surfing.
Cooking is a practical and important life skill: someday your child will have to cook for themselves, and their family, and learning to do it earlier rather than later is a great way to build up their confidence.
In addition to the practical skills of learning to cook a meal cooking opens up a whole host of other learning opportunities. For example, it builds up communication skills and co-operation, requires following instructions or reading recipes. It is also a lesson in where food comes from and how it is made from different components.
Cooking is amazing in building up small children’s gross and fine motor skills; Stirring, rolling, measuring, sprinkling are just a few kitchen tasks that allow young children to hone their fine motor skills. Whisking and mixing build up strength in the arms, hands, and wrists ready for writing.
There’s also a lot of mathematical learning going on when cooking; measuring, weighing, pouring and talking about quantities are all useful, practical applications of mathematics.
As an extra bonus, children who can tend towards fussy or picky eating are generally a lot more likely to try a new dish if they have been involved in its preparation.
This list of hobbies is not intended to be prescriptive; if you hate cooking for example, perhaps that’s not for you! This is just a list of suggestions of hobbies that can help your family to spend time together whilst also contributing to your child’s learning and future, the most important part is spending time together doing something that you all enjoy. And great hobbies are also one part of the healthy lifestyle that will edify your kids.