School is almost out. For the kids, for the teachers and for pools everywhere — there is excitement in the air. But for many parents, it can be a stressful time having to look into daycare, or how to fill the hours and extra time you gain throughout the summer. Helping parents pass on healthy habits and set up their children for success (because let’s face it, schools have all but entirely removed this as a point of performance) is a major passion at Friendship, and one we have been increasingly successful with. The summer is a great time to educate your children on things that they won’t ever learn in school. Below are some recommendations:
1. Plan out a week of meals and recipes with your children. Use a whiteboard or bulletin board and involve them in looking up what sounds good, but is also a healthy option. Using the week’s list for food that you’ve laid out, have the kids practice some math and list making skills by creating a grocery list with you. Then…
2. Have them go to the grocery with you and look at the labels for all of the foods they will need for the week. Teach them about the 61 alternative names for sugar (extra credit for them doing a report on it) and see if they can avoid getting any processed foods with added sugar. Learning to go to the grocery and identify unhealthy (especially foods disguised as healthy) foods is one of the first and most real problems we see when we begin to work with adults on nutrition.
3. Cook! When I left for the Army and completed all my training I was shipped off to my unit. Of course they provide a cafeteria of sorts, but this was really the first time in my life where I was responsible for my own food creation with a kitchen. As you can imagine, a lot of “Uncrustables” and bags of Goldfish were consumed before I realized that I’d probably have to learn to cook and make real food (this started the journey towards
Friendship and my nutrition education…but at 21 years old). Teach your kids how to bake, grill and sauté meats & vege’s to create amazing stir fries. Teach them how to use garlic, horseradish and lemon juice to provide spice and flavor, and how to make homemade salad dressings. These things are FAR simpler than Algebra, and honestly, the first time you make a “masterpiece” that you and your family eat and the child is responsible, you will have created a lifetime love for feeding others. Be excited, complimentary and supportive (they will mess up) – always try the food they make and provide constructive criticism.
4. Get involved with some activities. Yes, many kids will have summer lifting, sports galore and those parents will read this all and say “There’s no time for ANY OF THIS” — If that is the case, prep food with your young athlete and teach them about eating for performance…then hang on and do your best (I was this kid and never gave my mom the credit she very much deserved for all that driving, time and support)! For those kids who are not involved with sports…or like me, lost interest around 15-16 years old, I highly recommend the following activities:
- CrossFit — Benefits are that they will learn to do all of the most important exercises under the eye of a watchful coach. This will breed confidence and excitement inside of the gym & fitness space for the rest of their lives. It will correct body issues, injuries and imbalances and kids learn so much faster than adults. At Friendship we offer multiple programs, ages and difficulty levels. We educate on nutrition, stretching and mobility as well as gymnastics and strength training. See how awesome they can become!
- Rock Climbing — Benefits are that it builds a high degree of confidence, conquers a fear of failure and taking chances, builds strength and is physically demanding and gets people outdoors and/or around a new social group (that is very inviting).
- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu — Benefits are that it builds integrity and learning to respect the process. It can be very humbling, and instructors are usually very straight forward. It teaches a great form of self-defense, and removes the urge to be involved with physical altercations later in life.
- Spikeball — This is a new and fun game that is picking up some steam. It is very communal and easy to learn. There is a competitive circuit that has started, and it can be played almost anywhere. Parents can learn to play with their kids relatively quickly and you get better very quickly. It is like a back yard version of volleyball!
5. Watch documentaries, read books and listen to Podcasts. I have a LOT of recommendations here but a few quick ones are:
- “The Magic Pill” (Docu)
- “That Sugar Film” (Docu)
- “Unconventional Medicine” (book)
- “Extreme Ownership” (book)
- “Above the Line” (book)
- Tim Ferriss Podcast
- CrossFit Podcast (w/ Glassman)
- Chasing Excellence Podcast
- Friendship Podcast
I’ve had parents tell me they listen to our Podcast over dinner, which is a great way to spur on a conversation and better than watching television. Podcasts are also a great addition while walking or biking, and both can have great mental benefits for your child. The goal is to remove them from the grasp of social media and their cell phone and replace that with something entertaining but educational. I highly recommend providing some degree of freedom contingent on them using time in the mornings to develop themselves.
6. Bonus: Teach them about finances, credit cards, checking accounts, mutual funds, ETFs, IRAs, 401k’s, and go through your entire monthly statements with them. Be transparent, show them what bills look like and what it means to be an adult. How to budget, how to save 15% of your income each month and how to avoid debt.
The summer should not be a time away from education for children, rather it is THE BEST time for them to be educated in the ways of the world. Trying out a new job each summer, traveling to new places, living abroad and preparing to be an adult. School does not provide healthy habits. If we as a society and a family structure do not do our part when we have the best opportunity and the most time with our grown children to educate them; they will grow up lost and confused. A few hours a week can set your kid up for success this summer — do not let them blow it by staring at their cell phone.
Author Jeff Binek is the Owner of Friendship CrossFit which is located in Dublin, Ohio. Friendship offers a top-tier Kids & Teens program, as well as summer programs for sports teams and youth groups.