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Balance..... Without enjoyment, life lacks meaning, February 3, 2017
Posted 02/03/2017 03:00PM

Balance..... Without enjoyment, life lacks meaning

There is more to life than school

Schooling should not be the only focus of a child's life. A child's overall wellbeing depends on more than just academic achievement. Effective parents teach their children to balance their intellectual, physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.

Well-chosen hobby or leisure activities can improve a child's leadership, communication and time management skills. They can improve health, help children to develop important personal connections and make new friends and expose them to the wider community. Most importantly, children are encouraged to have fun.

Teachers and parents can work together to assist children in pursuing a well-balanced lifestyle. School performance should be separated from a child's other life style activities. Parents should help their child choose activities which give them enjoyment, and allow them to pursue their own interests.

Here are 6 strategies that will help you to develop balance in your children's lives:

Careful guidance fosters responsibility in a child

A child's character development takes place through daily interactions, and is influenced by all the activities they engage in, both formally and informally. Effective families and effective schools consider the "whole" child. The average child should be typically involved in activities at school, activities in the community and activities with family and friends.

When children are small, parents provide structure to their child's personal activities, such as limiting the places they can go (ensuring they are safe.), providing access to leisure activities and so on. However, as they grow and mature, children should be given opportunities to choose their own interests, leading to empowerment and self-responsibility.

Creativity comes from letting children be themselves

A child needs to develop their self-expression. For some, it is achieved in writing, for others, in music and for others again, through visual arts. Whatever shape it takes, a child's creativity needs to be nurtured and they need to be given the freedom to discover their own form of expression. Children should be allowed to trust their instincts and gain confidence in expressing themselves. This confidence carries over into decisions they make in other areas of their life.

Creativity leads to expression because, as a child creates, they access what they think and believe. Creative activity combines the energies of feelings, imagination and thought. It improves the capacity to think in different ways about challenges and opportunities.

Children need to feel safe when they express themselves creatively.

Games and sports develop children physically and emotionally

Staying healthy and establishing healthy habits is essential for a balanced life. Finding an activity that is meaningful can lead to a lifetime commitment. Children should be encouraged to take up exercise and extend themselves physically. Whether it is cycling, swimming, running, soccer and so on, a child needs exercise in order to stay healthy. Exercise reduces stress and anxiety and increases physical health. Being active is a healthy way to meet others and also to have stimulating experiences.

A child develops confidence as they learn to master the sport or activity they have chosen. Further, they develop confidence in their social interactions with others. In particular, team sports are valuable experiences for learning cooperation and responsibility to others. Thus, exercise not only is important for a child's physical health, it is also vital in developing their social skills and self-esteem.

Helping others is helping ourselves

Young children usually want to help out, and this should be encouraged throughout their lives. With school, family, friends and all the other demands on children, the commonly held belief is that there is little time for additional activities. However, community service (or service learning) is something that benefits both the giver and the receiver. By committing to community service work, a child is given access to a whole new world. It is through serving others that a child steps out of their own world and into another's, developing an understanding of their wider community, and developing multiple perspectives. They learn to appreciate what they have, and appreciate the differences of those around them.

Community service provides the ways and means for a child to find out what life is like from other perspectives, and enables them to develop their values and attitudes as a global citizen. It allows them to meet new people, help community organisations and provides a healthy outlet for physical, emotional and mental activity. Best of all, it gives the child a feeling of accomplishment, reinforcing their self-belief.

Modelling helps the whole family

Leisure activities that involve the whole family will strongly influence a child's attitude to a balanced life. Parents who make the time to play with their children are having time for themselves, as well, and are more likely to have well balanced children.

Open communication between child and parent is critical to the development of the child. Children need to be able to discuss and explore ideas they encounter outside the family home in an environment of safety and support. For this to occur, a parent who spends time with their child, engaging in a leisure activity, is also providing time to talk. This allows a child to express their fears, doubts, joys and ideas to their parents in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

Everyone needs some time to themselves

Numerous studies have shown that children require "time out" from academic study and physical activity to provide balance to their lives. Time out is a time for a child to be by themselves, spending time relaxing without having to actually do anything. For teenagers, this is a valuable time to re-energize. It is a time to listen to the inner self and contemplate what they have done and are doing. Time out can take many forms; for some it may be listening to music, watching television, playing a computer game or reading a book. Whatever shape it takes, time out provides space for a child to reflect and relax.

Five Simple Strategies for teaching your child to live a balanced life:

  1. Help your child be organised and set goals for school work, homework, exercise, service, family and friends.
  2. Encourage your child to involve themselves in a wide range of activities.
  3. Encourage your child to spend at least one hour a day doing a leisure activity.
  4. Give your child time out tore-energise.
  5. Do family leisure activities together

Nishimachi International School
2-14-7 Moto Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0046 Japan Tel: +81- (0)3-3451-5520

A well-recognized, independent, and coeducational K-9 international school in central Tokyo.

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