Aug 22, 2022

Things Your Kids Can Do Outside of School

Things Your Kids Can Do Outside of School image

Seriously,

 

What to do when your kids aren’t in school?

 

Do we practice what Singaporean parents are imposing on their children or let them enjoy the relatively unburdened lifestyle of Finnish kids?

 

While there’s a case to be made for both polar opposites (students in both countries are academic high-achievers) and no precedent or overwhelming consensus on how much time a child should spend in a day studying, we can all agree that there needs to be a period allotted for children that is devoid of anything academic. Because schoolwork can be yucky after a while.

 

After all, all work and no play make your kids dull.

 

Once they’ve done their assignments, homework, and chores, the time before bedtime still needs to be occupied with things that keep their interests piqued.

 

In this article, we have compiled a list of things for your kids to do during their free, non-academic time, divided into three categories:

 

– Basic Survival Skills – because your kids are going to grow up to be (hopefully) fully functioning members of society. Also because codependency is unattractive.

 

– Brawny Things – because their bodies are their temples. Keep the temple healthy and the mind tidy.

 

– Brainy Stuff – because the world nowadays is a lot to process and navigate. Your kids need to be capable thinkers to survive the modern age!

Basic Survival Skills

 

Although no good parents would wish any harm would ever come to their children, equipping them with the core skills that would help them survive in a plethora of both daily and unimaginable situations is necessary.

 

Your kids will at one point decide to explore the world around them, and it’s going to be comforting to you as parents knowing that your little ones are bolstered with the skills that allow them to be resilient and durable. Especially if they decided to act like Dora the Explorer – and we hope our kids aren’t as clueless as she is.

 

More McGyver, less Dora. Here are the skills.

 

Cooking

 

This isn’t an exclusively girls’ thing. Cooking is necessary regardless of your child’s gender. If they’re human beings with the need for sustenance to survive, then they need to know how to prepare themselves some food.

 

Cooking also helps your children to learn about good nutrition, what they put in their bodies, and to get accustomed to healthy diets. Being involved in food-making may also make them more adventurous with their palate choices. So if you want your kids to eat vegetables and other foodstuffs that kids don’t typically find appealing, get them busy in the kitchen!

 

Things to make sure of when you want to involve your kids in cooking:

 

– Have everything ready and in place. Cookwares, ingredients, kitchen towel, compost bin, and apron need to be neatly laid out so that your kids can just dive into the experience. Provide stools if your kids aren’t able to reach your kitchen countertop yet.

 

– Teach them about kitchen protocols: handwashing, cleaning as you go, never putting sharp tools near the edge of the countertop, and avoiding cross-contamination. 

 

– Guide them through simple recipes and the sequences of making a dish – which ingredient goes before which, and which cooking method is appropriate for which stage of the preparation. 

 

How do you get your kids interested in cooking in the first place? By starting them off with recipes that they like and start slow.

 

Begin with involving them in the recipe selection process and allow them to participate in one step of the cooking process. Have them bread the chicken for the chicken fingers. Let them whisk eggs. Allow them to mold the chocolate chip cookies that they’re about to bake.

 

Let them be messy. It’s part of the learning process.

 

Swimming

 

Take your kids to swimming lessons!

 

Most kids love being wet, thus swimming should naturally be a very exciting activity for them. It also turns out that swimming is a major survival skill too!

 

With drowning being one of the most common causes of fatal accidents in kids, the ability to swim is as core as it can get.

 

Have your kids taught by professional swimming instructors so that they are equipped with the correct and efficient skills that would help them to be proficient at it. We’re not looking for the next Michael Phelps here (though that would be a sweet bonus). We’re just imparting an important survival skill.

 

Gardening

 

If the recent global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people need to know how to grow food. Period. 

 

Remember the food shortage? Yeah. Not cool.

 

While it may not always be possible to live completely off the sustenance produced on our property – especially if you live in a city where the land is scarce and exorbitantly pricey – the knowledge and ability to cultivate food is a basic survival skill.

If you have a larger property, starting a vegetable garden involving your children is a good way to start to pique their interest in sustenance growing. They get to see how their food goes from soil to the table, and that begets emotional investment so they appreciate their food more.

For families with limited space, growing vegetables on a hydroponic system can be a good idea. Hydroponics requires relatively small space, is easy to maintain, and the produce can be harvested quicker.

Gardening can be either time-consuming or relatively quick, so fit the activity in your kids’ schedule – whether it’s after school or during a lengthy school break!

Who knows what your kids’ takeaway will be when they grow up with this knowledge?

 

First Aid

 

As parents, we would never wish that harm may befall our kids. Any good parents would always want to protect their children from misfortune and traumas, keep them “kids” for as long as possible, and let us adults do all the adulting on their behalf.

 

But kids grow up, and the person who will less likely be to survive is the person who grew up with zero knowledge as to how to navigate emergency situations.

 

We’re not talking about your kids needing to know how to start a heart with a defibrillator – we’re talking about administering basic first aid and reinforcing them with the knowledge of what to do during times of crisis.

 

Start when they were really young – toddlers’ age – whenever they get a boo-boo. Narrate how you would put medication and dress their wounds – e.g. “I’m going to apply pressure to the wound to stop it from bleeding, then I’m washing the dirt with clean water. Now let me put this ointment, and then bandage. – Voila! You are okay!”

 

No less important than the knowledge to dress wounds is the ability to stay calm when the situation is stressful. Teach them the slow deep inhale and release to alleviate stress and tension. This may take time and patience, but they’ll reap the result later on.

 

Now, no matter wherever you live, there’s always an emergency hotline – like 911 in the US – to call whenever the situation requires it. Make sure your child knows how to make the call when the situation is dire. If it’s not possible to rely on the emergency hotline, make sure your kids know which trustworthy adults – other than mommy and daddy – they can call instead of 911 or its equivalents.

 

Brawny Things 

 

You want your kids to grow up strong, disease-free, and able to defend themselves. One way to achieve that is to accustom your kids to various physically taxing activities.

 

Worry not though, physically demanding stuff can be made fun so that kids engage with it more readily.  

 

Self-defense

 

Self-defense for kids has become popular nowadays due to the prevalence of bullying in schools and creepy people potentially preying on their kids.

 

Yes. 

 

But self-defense does not always mean teaching them how to throw punches and kicks at their antagonizers. Self-defense can also come in forms such as verbal assertiveness to de-escalate tricky situations.

 

Talk to a child counsellor or therapist on how to best manage situations that call for verbal de-escalation that would best suit your children’s needs.

 

Also, don’t be afraid to enroll your kids on a marital arts programme because you think they might get aggressive. You see, in most martial arts disciplines, kids are going to be compelled to be pacifists. 

 

Because the fact that you know how to swing, doesn’t mean that you should start – there are plenty of things to do to de-escalate and defend yourselves, and swing only if it’s the last, last, last of the resorts.

 

Check your local martial arts club because they would often host kids’ classes with very accommodating schedules such as weekends or after-school hours. 

 

Sports

 

One of the best ways to de-stress and get good cardiac health is through regular physical exercise. 

 

Aside from the potential to grow up being more confident, assertive, and resilient, physical exercise can be a very fun way to kill time during your child’s non-academic hours.

 

The swimming class we’ve discussed in the survival skill section is a good way to incorporate some fun exercise into your child’s life – but there are other fun exercises too.

 

Understand what your child likes to get them excited about the activities. Girls can play soccer and basketball if they have an inclination to do so. Exercise is exercise and it shouldn’t be bound to gender.

 

Or a simple daily walk in the park with the dog counts as regular exercise too. You and your kids will get the dose of physical stress that you need while bonding – whatever floats you and your kids’ boat.

 

No excuses now. Get moving!

Brainy Stuff

 

You want to keep your child’s brain stimulated as healthily frequent as possible – and no, that does not mean shoving more academic stuff down their throat in their spare time. There are ways to stimulate their brains and their unique brand of intelligence other than school work.

 

Creative Channeling

 

Creativity is one way to stimulate your child’s brain without risking the boredom that comes with the territory of academic learning.

 

One of the most popular avenues of creative channeling is to make a movie – and you don’t need expensive paraphernalia either!

 

Your regular-degular smartphones coupled with some Stop Motion Studio apps that can be found on your phone’s app stores should suffice.

 

Movie production no matter how amateur engages several forms of skills, namely creative writing (for the script), imagination and visualization, and photography skills – which are all timely and relevant to the current state of the world.

 

Who knows if your kids would get seriously hooked on movie-making and grow up understanding more complicated Adobe editing software and make it their life career in the future? You’ve got future Spielbergs on your hands.

 

Plus, the kids get to have serious fun, and the family will have something to enjoy to watch for years to come!

 

To incentivize this activity, include a lot of fun movies that are appealing and age-appropriate to watch during their allotted screen time – which is something that you don’t have to avoid.

 

Socializing

 

Socializing is good for your child’s brain. It challenges the brain by keeping it active as it teaches them to recognize social cues and stimulate problem-solving.

 

Because let’s be honest, kids are going to encounter conflicts during socialization, and their critical thinking and empathetic ability are going to be tested during such scenarios.

 

Ways to get your kids to be social:

 

– Playdates! Invite their peers over to your home so that your kids can learn how to be good hosts. And who knows, your kids might get invited by their friends’ to another playdate in the future, during which you as parents might also get some free time to yourselves. Win-win!

 

– Enroll your kids into some social clubs or organizations – examples can include boy/girl scouts or summer camps. Such clubs or camps are filled with positive activities that are probably not available in their schools. This gathering is also the perfect avenue for them to meet other kids from various backgrounds and may also help them make new friends. Remember, in the future as adults, they would need the skills necessary to network, so start them early!

 

– Social skills development starts at home. Good parents communicate with their kids. They show through examples. It’s also important for parents to understand whether their children need advice or just a pair of ears that listen.

 

Coding 

 

A lot of children love to code. They just don’t know it yet!

 

Coding is the gateway to STEM education interest, and in the digital world where everything is rapidly changing and competitive, it would be wise if your kids get a headstart in the race.

 

Coding is for all kids of varying degrees of interests and aptitudes just like STEM transcends all kinds of inclinations.

 

Luckily, there are many after-school coding classes nowadays that would cater to your children’s need to advance later in life – like Timedoor Academy’s coding classes!

 

With more than 10,000 students globally and 300+ certified coding instructors, our coding academy is your best bet for children ages 8 and up.

 

To learn more and enroll at our fun and exciting coding academy, please visit this link.

Keep Reading

How to Help Your Kids Get Out of Their Study Slump
How to Help Your Kids Get Out of Their Study Slump
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As mentioned previously, your children’s loss of interest in learning can be due to a number of reasons, and as parents it is important to start recognizing these signs in order to apply the logical solutions and get those learning hats on.     Dull Learning Routine   When it comes to studying, oftentimes the routine is as follows: attend classes, have one-on-one sessions with tutors, spend hours on homework, and repeat. This cycle of rinse and repeat can quickly become monotonous to children, not to mention the additional pressure for academic achievement and competition with peers that can lead to eventual burnout.    Children are naturally curious beings filled with endless questions, so we know the curiosity is there. It’s just a matter of how we can foster and reignite their desire to learn. 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Usually, the game instructs the player to solve a mathematical equation or answer a history trivia in order to proceed to the next round or level up. This is a great method to keep kids engaged as they are just excited to play games, not realizing that along the way they are picking up useful skills.   Outdoor Learning   Sitting in a room for hours while trying to absorb new information can be a downer for most people, especially kids. By doing so, this can really weigh down on a child’s excitement to learn and honestly can we blame them?   Many schools nowadays incorporate outside learning where teachers and students go over learning materials in an outdoor setting. By implementing a slight change in scenery, students feel more refreshed and less slumped in digesting new learning materials. Try doing the same with your kids and take your tutoring sessions with your kids in the backyard or a public park to boost your kids’ learning spirit.   A great example would be heading outside to teach your kids about different types of rocks and soil for a brief geology lesson. If you’re lucky enough to live near the ocean with rich marine biodiversity, take the time to take your science lessons outdoors and look out for different types of sea life such as anemones, school of fishes, seashells, and more.    Field Trips   Similar to the previous point, scheduling field trips with your kids can boost learning interest as it takes the learning outside of the classroom, which can eliminate boredom.    Perfect for history lessons, going on a museum trip can spark interest in learning about past events, important monuments, artifacts, and paintings. This is highly beneficial especially in children who have shown interest in the fields of art, literature, and history. 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As parents, getting your children to sit down and study can be a hard task, however, by implementing a variety of fun activities and stimulating tasks, this can help them stay on track and reduce lack of interest in learning.    In addition, it is also important to recognize that there is also a good amount of trial and error that comes with finding the right study routine for your little ones. Therefore, it is important to be patient not only with your children, but also with yourself as you navigate through this journey. After all, finding a study plan that works is a learning moment within itself.    Lastly, value the time in taking a break from studying and exploring other interests that your children might have. Sometimes, all it takes is a little breather from the books to rejuvenate your kids and prevent fatigue from studying.    As parents, this would be a great opportunity to explore their interests outside of the classroom whether it be sports, music, cooking, and many more. Here at Timedoor Academy, we offer a variety of lessons surrounding coding that can be a fun learning addition for your kids. Our curriculum allows students to learn the fundamentals of computer science and accomplish fun projects such as creating their own games, websites, and mobile applications.   To get started, head over to this page and our teachers will be more than happy to get you and your little ones started on their coding journey.
What is STEM Education?
What is STEM Education?
The world is ever-changing. This fact, ironically, is unchanging.   Our world constantly invents and reinvents itself, and one’s reluctance to keep up with an increasingly complex world is an injurious tendency. The only way to not be left behind is to have an understanding of how today’s world works and how it would work in the future.   To ensure that our youth is able to keep pace with the constant changes, a good grasp of the disciplines that drive progress is important. Those disciplines are: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics — often abbreviated as STEM. The way we can instil and develop their interest in these areas is also crucial because,   How can one excel at anything they’re indifferent toward?   Now, let’s look into what STEM education is, how it can be taught effectively, and why they are important!   STEM Education. What Is It? Many parents seem to have got bitten by the “STEM” bug now that a lot of them are either talking about it, seriously considering it, or have already enrolled their children in schools that offer the program. Really though,   What is STEM education? How does it differ from the regular, conventional way of teaching the subjects? Why are more and more parents making STEM a priority in their children’s education?   STEM education is a program that teaches students in the aforementioned disciplines in a holistic, practical manner. In other words, it is an interdisciplinary approach that focuses on hands-on learning and critical problem-solving skills.   STEM education is often a collaborative endeavour between school teachers and parents/guardians. After all, children are only going to spend so much time in school, so it is imperative that parents/guardians take on the role of education facilitators as well.   How Does STEM Education Differ from Regular Science & Math Class? Traditionally, the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are taught separately with little emphasis on how these four areas are interconnected. STEM education can be seen as the reformed version of the conventional teaching methodology where it integrates all four in a single academic program.    Again, STEM programs often put a heavier emphasis on developing the ability to find solutions for real-world problems so that the students are equipped with practical skills that are applicable to, well, real-life situations.    A lot of schools that offer STEM programs conduct their Science and Mathematics classes in a collaborative manner, with small projects that encourage critical thinking to solve problems.    Examples of STEM Projects  Some examples of STEM-oriented projects:   - Paper Aeroplane (Designing, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Creativity)   A properly designed and made paper aeroplane is going to fall much slower to the ground than a balled-up piece of paper. Students are encouraged to test the laws of aerodynamics by designing paper aeroplanes that are able to travel the furthest and fall the slowest. This project integrates Science (Physics) and Engineering.   - Static Electricity with Plastic Comb (Critical Thinking, Problem Solving)   This experiment tests the occurrence of static electricity using two daily items such as a plastic comb and a piece of paper. The other thing that you’d need is a head full of hair. A plastic comb is not going to draw torn bits of paper to itself unless an action that generates static electricity is done to it. To draw the paper bits in a “magnetic” fashion, one would need to comb one’s hair repeatedly and bring the comb close to the paper bits. Now watch the comb “attract” the paper bits in amazement.   - LegoⓇ Bricks Coding (Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Creativity)   This project teaches students the principles of coding — an important computer programming that is very in demand now that is only going to grow in popularity. To participate in the project, teachers would need to design a LegoⓇ maze with an “entrance” and an “exit”, print out some coding commands, and prepare tokens (small figurines) as points of reference. Students are encouraged to collaborate to give directional commands to get the tokens to “exit” the maze. Plenty of fun and very engaging.   There are countless fun-filled STEM activities that would engage students and at the same time, instil interests in the discipline and further develop their passion. Most of these STEM projects can also be done in the comfort of your home. For more ideas on STEM-oriented activities, you can visit the links here and here.   How To Get Students To Commit to STEM Education All children at their cores are pure, inquisitive beings. They are naturally curious and are eager to explore things that are unknown to them, so it really falls on responsible adults to nurture, hone, and direct them to things that would satisfy their unique needs.    A few ways to get them excited for STEM:   Be Thoroughly Prepared You can’t possibly conduct an effective learning session as an unprepared facilitator. The quality of knowledge of whatever you are about to impart to your children wholly depends on your own understanding of the subject.    Set aside time and energy to research the experiments and projects in which you are about to involve your children, and understand how any or more of the four disciplines of STEM is a part of said projects.   After all, a good student is only as good as their teachers, and good teachers are the ones who come prepared.    Make Learning Exciting Learning can only be effective when it is fun and relatable. If it does not strike a chord, is boring, or is too serious that it quickly exhausts your children’s mental bandwidth, then you will lose their engagement. A disengaged learner is a lost one.    Practical projects are inherently exciting because of their engaging nature and they fuel fun through creativity. Aside from the activity examples previously provided, facilitators need to understand each learner’s unique inclination and curate the appropriate curriculum/program that would best serve their disposition.   For example, a child who has shown an aptitude for discovery and puzzles may be inclined to enjoy activities such as LegoⓇ Bricks Coding whereas those who have shown a strong interest in aeroplanes in the sky may be better served with the paper aeroplane experiment.   Give Examples of Successful People in STEM (Fictional or Real) For the learners to be excited about something, you may want to provide examples of individuals that are successful in the fields that they’re about to learn.   These individuals can be fictional or real, and whom to introduce to your children largely depends on their existing knowledge of the figures or the aspects of the disciplines that you are about to impart.   Children who are into superheroes may respond very well if you began the inception to learning by talking about STEM-oriented superheroes such as the tech-savvy Tony Stark from Marvel’s Ironman and gadget reliant Bruce Wayne from Batman from DC.   Involve Their Parents/Guardians As previously mentioned, students are only going to spend a fraction of their productive time in academic institutions. Most of their successes rest on the time that they would spend outside of school – at home.    A research done by National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education has shown that regardless of a student’s socio-economic background, the ones with hands-on parents/guardians tend to perform better in terms of test scores, discipline, behaviour, and exhibit desirable social behaviour.    To ensure an optimal and holistic learning experience, parents and teachers must collaborate in figuring out each child’s unique needs and interests, and coming up with tailored solutions that would best serve them. The activity examples given in the previous section can easily be done at home under parental supervision.   Facilitators may also want to use positive reinforcement, give good comments, ask open-ended questions, and be animated in their teaching. There are many methods that are considered teaching best practices. Click on this link to understand what is considered the most effective way to teach.   The most important thing to note when it comes to teaching your students is to have a firm grasp on the learning structure, and to be patient and kind.   Why STEM education? The common benefits of STEM Education are: - Critical Thinking - Problem Solving - Creativity - Collaboration - Effective Communication Those benefits also happen to be the kind of qualities that many industries look for in a professional.    The Demand for STEM Professionals The United States is currently experiencing a shortage of professionals to fill their STEM-related job vacancies as reported here and here. By 2025, the US will need to fill about 3.5 million jobs, and STEM-savvy professionals will make an overwhelmingly huge chunk of that demand.   Globally, the issue isn’t that much better. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that by 2030, there will be a worrying lack of global professionals to fill the 85 million tech-related job vacancies, based on the data provided by Korn Ferry management consulting firm. That figure suggests that STEM-related industries are going to grow at an exponential rate and the schools are not producing enough STEM talents to appropriately satisfy the demand.   STEM-related professions also pay relatively higher than their non-STEM counterparts as indicated here. In many cases, the salary for STEM professions can be as much as twice the salary of jobs in other industries.   STEM is Good for Other Industries and Disciplines A person educated in STEM does not always have to work for STEM-related industries or go to specific countries to make full use of their skills.   Being a great problem solver, creative thinker, and effective communicator are qualities that are attractive in any field of work, no matter which industry. For instance, there is a demand in the legal industry for STEM graduates and professionals with STEM-related qualities.   Some examples of individuals trained in STEM that work for non-STEM industries:   -  Angela Merkel, the former chancellor of Germany, is a physics and chemistry major who got into politics and went on to lead the country’s government.    - Mayim Bialik, a Doctor of Neuroscience who chose to work in the entertainment industry and made it big with the show The Big Bang Theory – she was hired partly due to her expertise in neuroscience to play a neuroscientist in the show where she got to help the showrunners write for her character. Mayim was paid $425,000 per episode for her work in the show.   There are limitless opportunities for those who are trained in the STEM disciplines. Getting your children educated early in STEM is only going to serve them well in the future when they finally enter their productive, working age.   Who Can Do STEM? Everyone. Everyone can do and excel in STEM.    Often parents and educators espouse the notion that learners that seem to have more dominant “left brains” are best suited for STEM majors and subsequently careers, whereas “right-brained” students are steered towards other pursuits.   The left-brain/right-brain principle is a myth and has been debunked by notable scientific scholars. A group of neuroscience experts in Utah, US, did a study that involved putting 1,000 people on brain scans while they were performing activities such as lying flat and reading. The result of the brain scans reading did not produce evidence of any hemispherical dominance when doing those tasks.   The following TED-Talk would serve as a very good explanation of why any child of any aptitude and disposition can and should be trained in STEM disciplines.   Getting to the Roots of STEM Education | Melissa & Lavanya Jawaharlal | TEDxCPP   When To Start STEM Education?   Opinions vary as to when to start introducing aspects of STEM discipline to a child, but one suggests that toddlers as young as two-year-old.   The first spurt in a child’s brain development happens at around two years of age and slows down and concludes when they reach the age of seven (eight in some cases). During this critical period, one could say that a child’s brain is like a sponge – ready to soak up any information, stimulus, and knowledge that their environment is going to give them.    STEM education can be employed in many different forms depending on how old a learner is and at which stage of learning development they are. For examples of age-appropriate STEM games and educational materials, visit this link.   What if your children are over the age of the “critical period”?    Worry not, as human brains continue to develop up to the age of 25. Nothing is too late, but the younger you start endearing your loved ones with STEM disciplines, the better off they will be.   Here at Timedoor, we provide coding classes (very STEM-y!) that are appropriate for children 8 and up with small class sizes so that each child will receive the optimal attention and focus from our facilitators.    For more information about Timedoor Coding Academy, please visit this link. We can’t wait to have your children join our fun-filled classes that will surely inculcate early interest in coding and possibly, other STEM-related disciplines.   Remember, STEM principles translate well into other disciplines so you could expect the benefits of your children’s extracurricular coding classes with Timedoor Coding Academy to reflect on their academic performance.
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