Raising Happy and Healthy Kids: The Significance of Children’s Activities
In a post-pandemic world, social activities have taken on a new significance. These were the things children missed out on the most during lockdown and the impacts of 2 years of intermittent school, cancelled clubs and social isolation will be studied for generations. However, there has also been a huge impact on parents. Clubs and activities provide valuable points of contact for parents and reduce social isolation and can encourage parents themselves to be more active.
We have known about the benefits of extra-curricular activities for a long time. A 2016 study found that children who took part in clubs such as Cub Scouts and Brownies, choir, arts, and crafts, chess and drama, or physical activities, attained higher scores at Key Stage 2 in Maths and English. They also found that physical activity was linked with better social, emotional and behavioural outcomes. Research carried out on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (2014) has suggested that some art and sports activities are linked with positive well-being. In a survey of 40,000 households, team (e.g. football, hockey) and individual sports (e.g. cycling, swimming), taking part in dance or drama or doing crafts all correlated with higher life satisfaction. But there’s no reason to think these benefits are just for children.
The parent-centred approach to parenting advises parents to lead by example, as they are key role models for their children – children learn most from the people to whom they are most closely attached. By taking care of their own well-being, parents are teaching their sons and daughters to care about their own mental health. It also puts parents in a better position to raise happy, contented children as they’ll be more likely to be feeling good about themselves and respond in a positive, emotionally healthy way.
Fujiwara, D., Kudrna, L., and Dolan, P. (2014). Quantifying and valuing the wellbeing impacts of culture and sport.
Tanner, E., Chanfreau, J., Callanan, M., Laing, K., Paylor, J., Skipp, A. and Todd, L. (2016). Can out of school activities close the education gap? (Briefing Paper 4). (http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/sites/default/files/files/CLS%20WP%202016%20(1)%20-%20Out%20of%20school%20activities%20during%20primary%20school%20and%20KS2%20attainment.pdf)