Extending family time can be easy -- just add food and fitness. Iowa State University Extension offers the following tips on how to increase family time while encouraging children's healthy development.
Science class in the kitchen: Your kitchen can be your child's summer classroom, using your kitchen as a science lab can help children stay in the school-mode several ways.
|*||Children can read recipes ad measure ingredients. This sharpens math, reading and vocabulary skills.|
|*||While children cook they build positive self-esteem, confidence and independence. Even while preparing a snack, they feel a sense of pride and responsibility.|
|*||Cooking teaches new skills. As kids learn to cook, they help stir, pour, shake and tear. Later they can cut, grate and measure.|
|*||Cooking provides a sense of accomplishment. Children are proud when they finish and are able to share what they have made.|
|*||Cooking also can help children make smart food choices. Combining gardening with cooking helps children learn how to grow food, and they are more likely to try different vegetables and eat more of them.|
When you cook with children, remember safety first. Tie back long hair, wear short sleeves and wash hands for at least 20 seconds before getting started.
And then get moving: The nationwide increase in childhood obesity over recent years has health care professionals and parents paying closer attention to the importance of physical activity. Along with a balanced and nutritious diet, children need regular physical activity to prevent becoming overweight.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days of the week, preferably daily. Remember, the physical activity does not have to occur at one time. It can occur in several 10-15 minute sessions throughout the day. Focus on play and enjoyment for you and your family.
Here are some helpful suggestions:
|*||Plan to be more active and establish physical activity as a routine part of everyday life for all family members.|
|*||Make it fun.|
|*||Try different activities -- play at the park, throw a ball, walk around the block, ride bikes, or dance together.|
|*||Learn about and use local public facilities and community programs for physical activity.|
|*||Encourage active play instead of TV and video games.|
|*||Choose activities you can enjoy for a lifetime.|
The most important thing is to get started.
For more information on keeping kids healthy, check the Iowa State University Extension website, www.extension.iastate.edu, or eXtension (pronounced E-extension) at www.extension.org (click on Family).