Guest Blogger, Dayton Uttinger
The digital age hasn’t just revolutionized the adult world; it’s changed the way our children play. Kids don’t ride their bikes until dinner or cover the fridge in drawings the way that they used to. Instead, they are glued to a various assortment of screens, the blue artificial light a poor substitute for the sun’s rays. And while we’re not likely to completely pull them away from their tablets, there are some crucial life skills that they should be learning instead of playing Minecraft for the seventh consecutive hour. Unless you’ve got time and money to burn, you probably can’t teach your kid all of these skills, but sprinkling a few of them in your child’s repertoire will definitely enrich your child’s life.
Knowing how to swim can be the difference between life and death- yet only 56% of Americans can pass the Red Cross’s basic swim skill test. The numbers are more frightening for minorities. Black children are three times more likely to drown than whites; only 31% of black children are strong swimmers. Other minorities reflect similar rates. When it comes to swimming education, we are several nautical miles away from where we need to be.
However, parents can turn that around. Something as crucial as this should be passed on. If you can’t swim yourself, sign your kid up for lessons, or plead with a friend who does to teach your child. It’s your responsibility to make sure that your kid is prepared for the world, and basic water safety definitely qualifies as a necessity. Also, your kids will have fun and be able to enjoy an outdoor physical activity!
This is along the same vein as swimming. While we live in a world of constant access to whatever we may need, your child might find themselves in an emergency situation. You might not need to teach them how to identify every type of edible berry, but the basics, like how to start a fire, can be easily taught during family camping trips. You probably don’t want to teach these too young, but every child is different. Some will be naturally curious and ask for you to show them.
Even if you don’t think it’s important that your child knows how to construct a basic shelter, camping trips still provide valuable family time. You can interact with your children without modern distractions, and they will be forced to play outdoors with nothing but their imaginations. This will hopefully encourage healthy habits, and they can always carry these memories with them.
Alright, not every skill is about survival. Cultural enrichment can also be important. While music at any age can be beneficial, there is certainly a case for early childhood involvement. Developing these pathways and muscle memory at an early age can give a child a head start if they decide to play an instrument in school, and it also helps them succeed academically. The benefits of music education aren’t restricted to just young children, but it’s always better to get an early start. Whether your child wants to play an instrument, sing, or dance, you should definitely encourage a strong relationship with music.
Speaking Another Language
In this global hypercompetitive economy, picking up a second language is a good idea for everyone. Children are just able to do it easier than adults. In developing years, the human brain is set to absorb information at a faster rate. So while your kids can certainly learn a new language later in life, they’ll save themselves a lot of effort if they learn now. It will certainly help them appreciate more cultural nuances and communicate better with others, but it will also help them succeed in the professional world once they’re older.
While it would be great if your child could actively engage in all of these activities, the fact is that there is only so many hours in the day. Not only that, but you have to take into account your family’s budget as well. It might not be possible for you to raise a multilingual pianist who enjoys days at the beach and camps on the weekends. But even just one of these will enhance your child’s life overall. Your kids may not be thrilled at the prospect of studying sheet music or abandoning the computer to attend swimming classes, but they will thank you in the long run.