KATY MAGAZINE I October 2018
By Katrina Katsarelis
All Katy parents want to raise children who are smart, safe, strong, and self-confident but how do we know we're doing the right things? Here is some great advice from local experts on a few important things you can do to enrich your child's life and help make sure they are well rounded people.
1. Go Camping
Being outdoors and completely unplugged is good for today’s digitized kids. When you’re camping, you don’t have everything you want at your fingertips and it forces you to have to be innovating and work a bit harder. Camping is a great way for children to get close to nature and just be awestruck by the beauty around them. Camping teaches kids resourcefulness and forces them to find ways to play that doesn’t involve electronic devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to set up Tech-Free Zones on a daily bases and camping is one of the best places to unplug and sit around a campfire. If you want the togetherness and nature but don't want to rough it too much, check out Katy Magazine's Glamping Guide.
2. Volunteer to Help the Needy
Giving back to someone in need is a very hands-on way to teach children compassion and gratitude. It’s also a great opportunity for many teachable moments as children notice inequalities in the word and see how some of the underprivileged population lives. You can volunteer for an organization or do something on your own such as mow a single mom’s yard in the neighborhood, play music at a senior center, gather clothes to drop off at a shelter or many other endeavors. Churches like Kingsland Baptist, Grace Fellowship, and other churches have dedicated Sundays where the whole congregation steps out to help the community in various ways. Katy Christian Ministries allows accompanied youth volunteers from age 13 and on.
Photo from Kingsland Baptist Church's Caring for Katy Day
3. Learn to Play a Musical Instrument
Studies done over the past four decades show that learning a musical instrument improves children’s academic and memory skills. “Students engaged in learning and performing a musical instrument have well-exceeded national and state norms in academics,” says Bob Bryant, Katy ISD’s Former Fine Arts Director and school namesake. He says children also gain other life skills from learning an instrument including team work, collaboration, time-management, self-discipline, and creativity, to name a few. Most importantly, music makes a heart happy. "Music is a way to deal with emotions and is therapeutic; it can be studied and enjoyed without a competitive focus," explains Dr. Kathleen Kelly, VP of the Katy Music Teachers Association.
4. Play on a Team Sport
It's true that kids who play on a team sport learn how to collaborate and work together, but experts agree they also learn a lot more. "The earlier they participate in a team sport the better," says Donnie Dishaw, a long-time Katy Youth Football coach. "Being part of a team teaches lessons like sacrifice and self-denial for the good of the team. Children also get a sense of belonging and accomplishment." Additionally, kids learn physical skills, perseverance, sportsmanship, respect, and many other character qualities. In Katy, many kids on various youth sports teams will continue to play together or against one another through junior high and high school, forming lifelong friendships that are instrumental in a child’s life. "Life is a team adventure. Everyone of us is inter-dependent on each other to function as a society. Team sports teaches children this very valuable lesson," says Dishaw.
5. Care for a Pet
Caring for a pet can help a child develop responsible, consistent care taking habits while learning first hand about love and loyalty. Pets can also help increase a child’s physical activity level while providing a source of comfort. Parents need to evaluate pet ownership thoughtfully, however and make sure a child is ready for the level of responsibility pet care takes. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, this is only suitable for older children. Pet care is not for children under five due to their impulsive nature and young age. Although children between 5-10 should start helping with the care, they are not ready to care for a pet on their own. The AACAP recommends only children age 11 and older might be ready to start taking on the care for a pet. (With adult monitoring and supervision of course).
6. Stay at Grandmas House
Allowing your child to stay at Grandma‘s and/or Grandpa’s house for an extended visit can be very good for him. Not only will he experience unconditional love in the purest form, he will learn a lot of wisdom from a person who grew up in an entirely different generation. It's been said that grandmas are like moms only sweeter and calmer. Sure, he might come home with a bit of an attitude from having been treated like a Rock Star for a week, but he will be better for it. The bottom line is this: the more people who love and connect with your child in a loving relationship, the happier and more well-adjusted he will be.
7. Get a Library Card
Simply put, regular trips to the library will result in more reading and more reading will result in a more enriched and educated human being. Parents who read to their children, and with their children, raise kids who have a definite advantage. Brain cells come alive when children are read to, and those brain cells have been shown to get stronger, and even form new brain cells while reading is taking place. Getting her own library card will help instill in her the importance of reading and make her feel like a VIP at the local library. Plus, libraries have fun activities like story times, puppet shows, and other fun events to help foster a love of books and reading.
8. Attend Church
Church can give a child a strong sense of belonging and help reassure him there is something greater beyond this life. This can be reassuring for an anxious child and give him/her more inner peace and confidence by knowing they are loved beyond this world. Church is also a wonderful opportunity to spend time together as a family attending services, volunteering or going to church events. Children also benefit by learning core teachings that are common topics in the majority of religion such as love, patience, kindness, and forgiveness.
9. Learn to Swim
With drowning being the leading cause of accidental injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4, safety is clearly the number one reason to teach a child to swim. According to Garrett Sampson of Katy’s Goldfish Swim School, children who learn to swim reduce their risk of drowning by a staggering 88%. Additionally, most parents don’t realize the many other advantages swimming provides. Sampson says swim lessons help improve coordination, intelligence, problem solving, self-esteem, and self-discipline. With so many home swimming pools and watering holes around Katy, it just makes sense for kids to learn this all-important life skill early and to practice it regularly.
10. Study Martial Arts
"The pursuit of martial arts is a pursuit of excellence in all aspects of one's life," says Brad Ryan of Mengs Martial Arts in Katy. "Martial arts students learn self-confidence and focus which allows them to lead more successful and productive lives. It also helps give students the drive and the discipline to achieve all their goals." Not only will your child increase his physical activity and strength levels practicing a martial art, he will also learn learn confidence, self-discipline, and respect. Many Katy parents choose martial arts for children who have a tough time sitting still or listening because part of the teaching involves paying close attention and respecting the instructor.
11. Wash His Own Laundry and Do Chores
You will be doing your child a disservice by doing all the cleaning and his laundry for him. Chores will help get him into the lifelong habit of taking care of his responsibilities and having satisfaction from a job well done. Age appropriate chores also involve your child in the family and help him feel like a contributing member of the home. Start small with little chores and as he grows, gradually give him more responsibility. Studies show that regular chore routines can also help build a child’s self esteem while reducing power struggles with parents.
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