When cold winter weather or rainy days coop up your kids, you already know that their attention will probably be fixed on smartphones or tablets. For kids, YouTube is the new TV. Like everything on the internet, it can be a massive waste of their time or an amazing informational tool. Instead of complaining to them about their excessive amount of screen time, try using technology as an entertainment portal for exercise, artistic expression, and learning. By incorporating YouTube and other content providers into days spent indoors, you can teach your kids and get them moving, and they won’t even know that they are doing something good for themselves.
Physical activity is a crucial component of a healthy childhood. As parents, we encourage team sports at young ages, and our schools reinforce physical education as part of our children’s routines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes the importance of physical activity not only for children’s present health but for forming future habits that they will carry into adulthood.
Likewise, art is a key component of childhood development. Art contributes to motor skill and language development and can help your child in critical thinking, inventiveness, and cultural awareness. If that’s not enough reason to add the arts to your child’s routine, consider that not all learners thrive with memorization but, rather, require the type of visual learning that art provides.
And, of course, science is important. For some kids, however, science can be too difficult to grasp or unrelatable, and therefore not interesting to them. For today’s kids, the key to enlivening science learning, promoting artistic development, and getting their muscles moving is technology. On a cold or rainy day, tell your kids to pick up their devices and dial into some activities and content that will add smarts and health to their playtime.
YouTube for exercise
If you ask your kid to watch a yoga video on YouTube, most will run away from you into their rooms. However, ask them if they can do the newest viral dance move, and they will pull it up on a screen before you’re done asking the question. You can encourage your children to watch dance videos that you deem appropriate, and reenact the moves for exercise. For younger kids, you can limit their viewing through the YouTube Kids portal or by creating safe playlists on a family YouTube account. You can also check out individual YouTube creator websites that offer specific exercise videos for kids.
Get the whole family involved by casting the YouTube videos to a larger screen. Smart TVs likely already have a preloaded YouTube app, or you can mirror your phone or tablet through an Apple TV or similar device. If you need to buy some new home theater equipment to bring life to your living room dance party/exercise class, do some online research before you make a purchase using a site like Family Living Today, which has lots of great reviews for electronics and other household products that will inject life into the days where your family is stuck indoors.
From body to mind
YouTube and other websites are great sources for artistic educational material, too. Kids love to watch YouTube tutorials on everything from braiding hair and slime-making to video game walk-throughs and sports skills. Steer your kids to fun art and music lesson videos. Your kids will be surprised to see the skills they can learn in just one rainy afternoon. Mastering three ukulele chords only take a video or two, and there are thousands of videos on how to draw faces.
In addition, there are many YouTube channels that make science more understandable for kids by making the concepts real and fun. Simple experiments facilitate a visual learning that combines a little bit of art with a lot of science. For instance, DIY “lava in a glass” teaches kids about different types of matter and buoyancy, and it looks really cool.
Next time the weather keeps your kids indoors, don’t fight them over their device use. Instead, go with the flow, but toss some exercise and education into the mix. They might not notice it at first, but they will appreciate the fun.
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