A Healthy, Active Summer for Kids


By Janice Villanueva Summer has got to be one of the most anticipated seasons of the year. Not only does it give families many occasions for some serious downtime together, it also presents parents the opportunity to develop their children's talents, skills and interests.

I've always liked the idea of the summer class. You can sign up your child for a few classes, and if he doesn't like it, he can move on to another one. No harm done. Plus, your child is sure to have learned something from the experience or at the very least, met some new friends. If he does like it, then he can pursue his interest further in advanced classes which he can take the whole year-round. It's one way of equipping your child with the skills to start strong in life.

My children, of course, have taken all sorts of summer classes. Coby took up fencing when he was eight years old. He liked it so much that he eventually joined the fencing club in school. By the time he entered high school, he had gotten so good at it that he was invited to become part of the varsity team.

When he was younger, Zach took up football. I loved how my little boy was so determined in chasing after that ball in the middle of a big, open field. Those sessions certainly helped him learn the value of hard work and the importance of teamwork.

Most recently, he tried parkour. It's a method of physical training that develops a person's ability to overcome physical and mental obstacles. Free running and jumping are some of the activities involved in parkour, and I must say that those classes must have piqued the daredevil in Zach. For their culminating activity, Zach and his classmates had to cross the Sunken Garden in the University of the Philippines blindfolded with only the voice of their coach as their guide. Wow!

Zach also has painting sessions together with Reese. They started late last year, but have decided to continue until the summer. It is a joy to see them so captivated by their work. I've seen how they've become so patient and meticulous in their work, using small brushes to achieve a desired effect.

Apart from painting, Reese has also taken up gymnastics. Good posture is one of the benefits that she earned from those classes as well as perseverance and determination. This summer, she's excited to take up baking and tennis.

Coby playing basketball

Zach tries his hand at tennis

Reese hits the court

Reese and Coby baking yummy goodies

Coby at a fencing competition

Encouraging my kids to take up summer activities gives them the ways and means to start strong in life. Summer activities not only bring my children out of their shells, they also challenge their abilities. Summer activities not only allow them to soar to new heights, they also get to start new adventures. Coby was able to develop his hand-eye coordination, and found something that he's really good at. Zach was able to develop his speed and agility, and found his senses heightened. Reese was able to develop her fine and gross motor skills, and learned the value of patience.

But as much as children need opportunities to learn new skills, they also need time alone. Overscheduling children with a dozen and one activities may not be the perfect and healthy way for them to enjoy the summer. There always has to be a balance between activity and non-activity. They need quiet time to rest, think, and dream. As much as we moms need our me-time, kids need theirs too.

To complement the kids' activity/non-activity schedule, I make sure that our weekly menu provides them with healthy, balanced meals to fuel their summer adventures. Because they're mostly at home, taking anywhere from four to five meals a day, I've planned a selection of healthy meals, snacks, and drinks for them. The trick here is to get those meals and snacks on the table before they get hungry and hanker for junk food. I've arranged the fridge to make sure that they can easily grab some healthy snacks and of course, their daily dose of Mott's 100% Apple Juice. Apart from providing the right dose of vitamins and minerals for my kids, Mott's is also a welcome refresher for them, specially on hot summer days.

By giving my children time to breathe and room to grow today, they have a much better chance of achieving a great tomorrow. With children most specially, tomorrow starts with what we do today.

Reese and her book of inspiring quotes

Zach and Reese with their works of art