1. Support a Healthy Mind and Body
- Sleep (3-5 year olds need 11-13 hours and 5-12 year olds need 10-11 hours)
- Eat right “Good nutrition provides energy and endurance for both physical and mental tasks such as paying attention, concentration, memory recall and problem solving skills.”
- Physical Activity “Children need at least 60 minutes daily to ensure a child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being.” (Center for disease control)
2. Daily Quiet Time (20-30 minutes daily) to help the child with:
- Focus and Attention – Resting and relaxing the mind helps “clear the head” to enable the child to better attend to task for future activities.
- Inner Control – Providing an opportunity for your child to take a daily “personal time out” from environmental stress will help him gain greater self-control.
- Spiritual Equilibrium – Time for quiet reflection and contemplation will help the child develop inner peace and more positive interactions with others.
3. Daily Nature Walks (before or after dinner) to help the child with:
- Becoming less fantasy-oriented – Exposure to nature helps keep the child more “grounded” in reality.
- Focus and attention – Research has indicated that there is a direct correlation between exposure to the outdoors and attention span.
- Listening Skills – Walking in silence trains the ear to listen more intently to specific sounds in the environment.
- Inner control – The child has a tendency to react in a more calm, more orderly and peaceful manner when exposed to nature.
4. Activities that Aid the Connection of Mind and Body (such as gymnastics) to help the child with:
- Balance and Coordination
- The ability to follow directions
- The ability to attend to task
- The development of inner control
5. Activities that Aid Independent Functioning Where the child is able to:
- Engage in anything related to self-care
- Take on daily responsibilities for one’s own personal space and belongings
- Be involved in the communal responsibilities of the care and management of the home, as well as decision making and problem solving in the home.
6. Activities that Aid Social Development:
- Family Mealtime – Set a goal for every day, and work towards achieving at least 3 days per week. Research proves that families that take the time to sit down and eat together not only develop basic social etiquette, but also benefit from gaining more effective communication skills, as well as closer and more meaningful social relations.
- Weekly Family Meetings – As a usual follow-up from the family mealtime, the family meeting provides the child opportunities to observe important social skills such as mediation (when observing the adult role model), problem solving, and conflict resolution, as well as providing the child with an opportunity to have a “voice” in decision making for the family.
- Once a week “one-on-one” time – When the parent can devote just one day per week, where both adult and child are very “present” with one another, the child gains a greater sense of trust and security that is fundamental for the child’s mental health. Examples of possible options for weekly outings are: beach day, free play at the park day, picnic at the park day, bubbles and balls at the park day, bike hike day, library day, etc.
- One day a month “family day” – When the whole family can be together for a family outing, which has been planned by all members over the course of one month, a special type of “bonding” occurs that is what family memories are made of. (Sometimes the “planning” is as much fun as the outing itself).
- Play dates with friends (See post on “Making and Developing Meaningful Friendships”)