Indoor & Outdoors
The September school holidays before exams can be stressful for children. They might attend tuitions, enrichments, and camps that focus more on academics. As parents, we want our children to excel in school and life, yet our hearts ache a little whenever we see our child come home exhausted from studying.
At the same time, too much screen time whether it’s computer games, YouTube or movies during school holidays is not ideal.
How about allowing your child to work with their body and emotions to help their brain focus better, while nurturing their soft skills through meaningful activities?
Vernessa Chuah, the founder of Mindful Space, has seen many parents facing the same dilemma. Having the urge to help these parents, she looked for creative, fun, and meaningful ways for parents and children to bond and learn together.
During her research, she found out the happiest kids in the world are the Dutch. And here's why:
Kids spend more time with their parents
Kids feel less pressure to excel in school
Kids are encouraged to express their own opinions
They sound straightforward, yet parents usually face many challenges to do any of the above due to the busy work schedules and pressure from society (i.e., children need to excel in school to be successful in life).
Sometimes, we're not sure whether we're over pushing them or we're too lax. There are no proper guidelines as it’s subjective to our own values and beliefs.
Learning from the Dutch, a child needs love, care, connection from the parents and freedom to express themselves in order to be happy. How do we allow them to experience these through activities and experiential learning?
Here are four meaningful and fun activities for children that strengthens your child’s emotional, physical, and mental resilience. And one of it improves communication between you and your child.
Activity 1: Kayaking
Let's start with a fun outdoor activity: Kayaking.
Kayaking is actually a beginner-friendly water sport that requires constant communication and teamwork—verbal and non-verbal—to reach the desired destination, together.
In her recent kayaking experience with her husband, Vernessa realized that kayaking demands her to respect and match her husband’s pace, listen intently to him, and express her request and opinions clearly.
The three hours of mangrove kayaking at Pulau Ubin allowed Vernessa and her husband to spend quality time communicating with each other while admiring nature. It sets a different atmosphere for conversations with the birds chirping and lots of Vitamin D, discussions are light and open.
As they kayak through the open sea along the coast of Pulau Ubin, upon entering the mangrove maze, Vernessa spotted some ocean trash. Her first reaction was “Yikes, trash in Singapore!”, before her rational brain kicked in to give a better picture. She remembered reading that ocean trash can travel up to 5000km, making the ocean the largest garbage dump where even remote islands can become plastic junkyards.
Her kayaking experience made her realize that this water sport helps us get in touch with nature. Parents have the chance to educate their child about environmental threats more effectively after witnessing the amount of food wrappers, plastic bags, and other trash in the sea.
As Vernessa said, “you cannot love what you don’t see and feel,” the kayaking experience is a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of protecting nature.
Kayaking is also an excellent sport to build resilience in your child because it can be tiring after paddling for 20 minutes or so. With encouragement, gentle nudges and positive affirmations, parents can help their child build patience and perseverance to reach their destination together — aligned with our aim to help your child build important skill sets that last a lifetime.
Activity 2: Dancexercise
Dancexercise is a combination of dancing and exercise that explores various movements, dance styles, and music. It’s an upbeat and fun activity that will surely leave every child feeling more joyful, lighter, and flexible.
By moving our hips, waving our hands, and practising brain-balancing movements, our children get to enter a different headspace and mood. In there, they can be:
more open to possibilities
more courageous to try new things
more comfortable with uncertainties
And studies have shown that physical activities are excellent for your child’s physical, mental, and emotional health. It increases self-esteem, reduces anxiety and depression, and stimulates brain growth.
At Mindful Space, Vernessa works together with Nashwa from Japan who focuses on body movements for energy and healing. They incorporate positive affirmations and brain-balancing movements into their series of dancexercise!
Kids Dancexercise! can help your child to:
✅ Release energy while strengthening the core
✅ Improve coordination and posture
✅ Build more confidence, higher self-esteem and intrinsic motivation
✅ Practise self-love and acceptance of their body from young
✅ Build better focus through observation and listening skills
Activity 3: Yoga
Apart from physical fitness, what about an activity that helps your children manage their emotions, learn to be present and remain concentrated?
One tried and tested way and has seen success in many families is Yoga.
There are many benefits of yoga for children, such as:
Enhances their flexibility, strength and coordination
Boosts body awareness
Connect deeply with self
Reduces stress and anxiety
One other important benefit of yoga is building a child’s emotional intelligence (EQ) — ability to monitor self and other people’s emotions, to distinguish between different emotions and label them correctly, and to use emotions to guide their thinking and behaviour.
Yoga teaches our children to be present with their thoughts and emotions, enabling them to recognize their emotions, which is the foundation of EQ. By practising yoga, children will slowly start to understand their emotions with more clarity, compassion, and help build overall self-awareness.
Vernessa has been practising yoga and she can definitely attest to some of the yoga benefits above, especially coordination.
She had been one-ear deaf for nearly four years due to an ear infection. Because of that, she wasn't able to walk straight for a short period, fumbles sometimes, and couldn’t check her blind spot when she cycles. What helped her to regain balance and coordination is consistent yoga practice.
Private family and kids yoga by Yvonne.
Activity 4: Creative Arts
Creative Arts can be an expressive form where arts are used to communicate and explore a child’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviours in a safe space.
If we come to think about it, how often does our child have the opportunity to express themselves freely without being judged?
Living in a life conformed by some society's standards and afraid of speaking out can limit our children in many ways. It dampens their self-esteem, stifles their EQ, and restrains their freedom.
This is why children need an alternative safe channel to express themselves without fear of being judged.
It allows the children to be in tune with themselves (emotions, behaviours, and thoughts) and encourages them to be more open. Additionally, the child can always use creative arts as a tool for self-healing.
Creative arts expose the child to various self-expressive art forms such as stories, role-play, music, games, objects, movement, and more. With so many forms to choose from, a child is no longer confined and can explore the most suitable art form for them.
There is also Creative Arts Therapy, a psychotherapy method to help children with special needs such as ADD, ADHD, Autistic or children who have been through trauma or need a space to express and release their emotions. Contact for private sessions with Karin from Sweden.
Holiday Camp For Your Children's Well-Being
Holiday Camp by Mindful Space focuses on helping the child to build physical, mental, and emotional resilience through experiential and fun-learning activities.
It’s a 4-day holiday camp where parent and child can participate in kayaking together on day 1, and the other 3 days are for your child to experience yoga, creative arts and dancexercise.
All activities in the Holiday Camp are designed to:
Cultivate a sense of responsibility and self-discipline
Build positive communication and expression of emotions
Nurture mindfulness, self-awareness and self-acceptance
Develop a growth mindset and perseverance
Boost healthy family bonding
Through this camp, you and your child will experience another meaningful bonding and communication, and your child gets to learn indispensable soft skills that can help them succeed in academics, career, relationships, and in life.
In our humble opinion, the best gift we can give to our child is not the latest iPhone or toys, it’s life experiences. They might not remember what you say or give them, but they will remember how they feel when they are with you.
What life experiences do you want to give to your child?
Mindful Space offers indoor and outdoor holiday camps. For more information
WhatsApp: +65 9783 7313