Azabu Gardens Journal
Ways to Keep Your Children Active and Engaged This Summer
Representatives from two local international schools share their advice
With the school year at an end and, for many of us, travel plans still on hold, it’s looking to be a summer that will be largely based at home. What are some of the best ways to keep your children engaged and active this summer?
For the answer, we spoke with two top educational establishments—the British School in Tokyo (BST) and Nishimachi International School. During the past year, both schools had to adapt in various ways to the Covid-19 pandemic, and some of the approaches that they’ve taken can prove to be helpful even during their time off from school.
Kacie Leviton, marketing and communications manager at Nishimachi, explained that during their time off in the summer—just as during the school year—the best way to keep your children engaged during their free time depends a great deal on their personality: “Some kids need to be unstructured after being in school all day, while others crave even more structured activities. Ensuring balance between the two is more important, at school and at home.”
Leviton explained that a great option for children of all ages is an e-reader: “Getting a device that allows children to have access to books is a great way to keep them reading and engaged.”
For more learning opportunities during the summer, NY, a teacher at BST, said there were a number of excellent resources online for children younger than six, such as Khan Academy and Khan Academy Kids. Both platforms feature a points system, which NY said can be a basis for keeping them involved: “If you give them rewards for earning points, this can motivate them to stay engaged. NY added: “University of Arts London do some online classes which my kids have enjoyed.”
Regardless of the online activities that your children participate in during the summer, both representatives agreed that helping children maintain social ties is key. Leviton said: “When asked what activities they like best, most children would answer, ‘spending time with my friends.’” Reflecting on the past school year, NY said: “In my experience children just appreciate being in school when they can, and when in school they enjoy chances to talk. When online they like time to talk to each other. That’s what they miss being at home. As a parent, you should encourage your children to meet friends safely outside.”
And even during times when children aren’t able to meet with friends face-to-face, it’s important for them to counterbalance screen time with fresh air, even for strolls around the neighborhood. Leviton said: “It is important to take frequent breaks! Everyone should get fresh air and take walks during the day.”
NY agreed with this point, adding that there is an excellent way to encourage children to get out and about: “Incentivize steps! Children should be getting more than the recommended 10,000 steps a day for adults, especially when online because of the risks associated with a lot of time online and the higher likelihood of poorer quality sleep.” If your child has a smartphone, it’s easy to use it to track steps and turn this into a game or competition—for example, by setting up a poster at home where your child can track their steps.
Whatever this summer brings, here’s hoping that it’s a season of enjoyable activities, curiosity, and learning.