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Children need a way out and play

They are bored at home and are turning to increasing screen time for recreation
This forced confinement is turning out to be troubling for children, especially for those without siblings. Online schooling can impart education, but cannot create companionship.

Mayukh Banerjee   |     |   Published 25.06.20, 04:50 AM

For a child, March to June every year symbolises an end to exams, summer holidays, vacation plans, splashing in the pool, ice creams, friends and the excitement of starting a new academic year. But, alas, this year is different. The “new normal” spells fear, uncertainty, caution and social distancing with Covid-19 hanging over us all like the Sword of Damocles.

This forced confinement is turning out to be troubling for children, especially for those without siblings. Online schooling can impart education, but cannot create companionship. Access to parks, playgrounds and extracurricular classes that was so normal a few months ago remains woefully absent. Children are, by and large, bored at home and are turning to increasing screen time for recreation and mobiles, tablets and television are coming to the rescue.

Exercise comes naturally to children. Sitting around for endless hours in front of an animated screen is actually quiet depressing. We have received several reports of children suffering from insomnia, weight gain and lethargy and developing poor habits such as texting and accessing internet till late at night. There is no knowing how long this “new normal” will last. Hence, a strategy must be formulated to replace this growing trend of passive recreation with more active ones. Let us take a look at what we can do.

Walks

A walk or a hike with your child is a good option. With proper PPE , social distancing and common sense, the possibility of infection is minimal. To remain safer, choose a time when the place is sparsely populated. A walk not only burns calories, but is also a good conversation starter. A lot can be discussed during a stroll. A one-hour walk will cover 4 to 5 kilometres and burn around 300 calories. Walking at least three times a week is recommended and children will certainly enjoy their time outdoors.

Cycling

Not only is cycling a great exercise for children (and adults), but it also ensures social distancing. Each cycling session should last at least half hour and be repeated at least three times a week.

Games

If space is available at home, set up a badminton court.

It need not be large. Even a moderate-sized terrace or backyard will do! If your dining table is large enough, it can be temporarily converted into a table tennis board fairly easily. For the more privileged, several clubs in Calcutta have opened their golfing facilities and tennis courts. In short, with a little bit of thought, there are a number of physical activities that children can participate in with relative safety, even today.

Online fitness

This is a game changer! A number of really good coaches are conducting online fitness programmes for children. Ranging from yoga and dance to martial arts, there is a wide variety of choices. The coach guides the participants through live interaction. Enrolling in an online fitness programme introduces a fixed routine and is especially beneficial for hyperactive children. Developing fixed routines and daily timetables also help increase focus and attention span. Each online session should not last longer than 40 minutes to one hour.

But whichever form of exercise is adopted, regularity must be established. Exercising at least one hour a day is as important to a child’s development as academics, perhaps more so.

Always consult a professional before starting on a workout.

The writer is the founder of Mike’s Martial Arts, a Calcutta-based martial arts and advanced functional fitness studio. Contact: mayukhpb@yahoo.co.in.

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