Try something a little bit different: special feature on alternative after school activities
Are the kids wheely excited about cycling? Bonkers about baking? Or Fantastic Forest Explorers?
Here at TheKidsDo we like to give our local parents and children plenty of ideas for keeping busy after school. Which is why we created our special feature series of blogs; highlighting a variety of different children activities and their benefits.
In this installment of our special feature blog, we take a look beyond the traditional after school activities to bring you something a little different. From being creative in the kitchen to being adventurous in the great outdoors, this blog explores some of the different activities your child/children may not have considered.
We’ll take you through step-by-step and review the benefits of each activity, what you’ll need to get started and some local activity providers to consider.
But first ...
Did you know
The longest tandem bike ever built had 35 seats and was approximately 67 feet long!
The largest cake ever built was made in Italy by 250 cake designers measuring a whopping 54ft x 45ft x 1ft) That’s a LOT of washing up afterwards!
13% of the total land area in the UK is made up of forest/woodland according to 2016 statistics
Cycling - An Overview
Cycling has become hugely popular in the UK amongst adults and children alike. With Team GB cycling legends such as Sir Chris Hoy, Laura Kenny and Chris Froome leading the way and inspiring a generation. British Cycling reported that their membership within the organisation has toppled over the 125,000 mark in 2016, with a huge 75,000 people joining from 2012 alone (1).
Along with the motivation of these sporting heroes, learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for most kids. Getting on your bike and riding off in the park or garden gives children a sense of independence of getting around on their own two wheels. It’s no surprise that more kids want to get involved in cycling and continue to cycle throughout their adult life.
Cycling - The Benefits
Get on your bike!
Cycling is a fantastic way of motivating the kids to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Of course this sport can also be done inside at a velodrome. But nothing beats the wind through your hair when riding a bike and exploring new places.
Cycling is a great cardio vascular exercise. The sport helps to develop strength, balance and fitness. Who can forget those first wobbly moments when learning to cycle? The elation and relief once you gain that centre of balance and can cycle unaided. It also helps to strengthen the lower body muscles and bones, without direct impact on the knees.
Cycling is a real sociable sport. We are fortunate to have such fantastic local green spaces such as Richmond Park for the whole family to get one their bikes and enjoy. Becoming a member of a cycling club also allows kids and young adults to make new friends and bike buddies.
Cycling - Who is it best for
The great thing about cycling is that children of all ages and abilities can learn how to ride a bicycle. From preschoolers with their trikes to young adults with the latest mountain bikes and everything in between. There really isn’t an age or ability limit when it comes to the sport.
Cycling is ideal for children who enjoy being outside and enjoying the fresh air with their friends. It takes playing outside to a new level, giving them independence to get around by themselves. It’s also a healthy activity that the whole family can adopt and enjoy. Making it easy to add extra quality family time into the family calendar.
Cycling - The Kit
Ensure that you purchase a bike that’s suited for your child’s height and more importantly ability. Don’t forget the stabilisers if they are just starting out! There are a number of bike shops that should be able to give you expert advice on buying that first bike and what your child will need as they grow. Don’t second guess it, check with the experts first to get the right equipment for your child.
Of course with any bicycle must come a cycle helmet. It is best that you consult with a cycle expert to find the correct head protection for your child. Fits important to keep your child safe. You may also want to consider protective knee and elbow pads if they are just starting to learn.
Rain or Shine
Make sure your child is comfortable in the clothing they are wearing when cycling. Comfort is key but you also need to be mindful that they may also need waterproofs in bad weather. Make sure they are wearing the correct footwear too, to avoid slipping. Keeping a water bottle on hand is also great for keeping them hydrated, whatever the weather, as cycling can be thirsty work.
How to get involved locally
Kingston Junior Cycle Club started in March 2011 and has now seen 300 young cyclists get involved. They are dedicated to developing young cycling talent in Kingston and offer young cyclists the opportunity to turn their skills into a sport. The club is accredited to the British Cycling Go-Ride Scheme which allows young cyclists to enter competitions nationwide.
Cookery - An Overview
There’s no escape from it - Great Britain seems to be bonkers about baking! With the huge popularity of television shows such as Great British Bake Off and Masterchef (and of course their junior equivalents). Cookery and baking seem to be very much on trend with everyone. Of course there’s the making and baking, but also the tasting which the whole family can enjoy!
Modern cookery heroes such as Jamie Oliver, Nadiya Jamir Hussain and Lorraine Pascale often flood our TV screens and social media feeds with their inspiring ideas. It’s great to see a passion and rise not only in traditional baking, but also in ways to introduce healthy eating to our kids and future generations.
Cookery - The Benefits
Little learners for life!
Getting your children involved in cookery lessons is a great way of introducing them to healthy ingredients and eating well for life. Knowing where food comes from is particularly important, so it’s a good idea to get them involved in the kitchen from an early age. Cookery classes are perfect for preparing young adults in cooking for themselves in the future, such as when they go off to university and college.
Precision & Patience
Baking and cooking teaches kids more precision and patience. It gives them time to focus and be mindful of these two skills. They learn precision through measuring ingredients and portion sizes. Patience is taught with the skills they need to follow instructions by using a recipe, and actually waiting for bakes to cook or meals to come together.
Do you have a creative chef in the kitchen? Cookery enables your child to express themselves creatively through either creating and developing recipe ideas or decorating cakes and bakes. There are a number of ways to explore and add creative flair to cooking. From simple ideas on icing a biscuit for tots right through to developing and cooking a three course family meal for a young adult. The possibilities are endless!
Cookery - Who is it best for
Cookery is an activity that is suitable for all ages and abilities. The beauty of baking is that it can be taught in a professional kitchen by a qualified instructor and practiced at home with parents and carers. It’s also a skill that can be nurtured from an early age and developed as your child grows.
Cookery and baking gives shy and quiet children confidence as they learn new skills in the kitchen. They are able to put passion and creativity into a recipe or bake and show and share what they have made with their family or peers. A fantastic confidence boost! Being a sociable activity it’s a great way to encourage children who lack confidence to get involved in a group effort, cooking together and sharing their skills. Not forgetting enjoying the eating of their creations!
Cookery - The Kit
Learn from an expert
It’s a good idea to look for a local cookery school that will grow with your child’s cookery skills. Looks for a provider that runs lessons from preschool to young adult ages to cover all bases. A cookery class should include an instructor with all the relevant qualifications, safety equipment and security checks.
Get kitted out!
You might want to check with your activity provider to find out if they provide aprons or protective clothing to wear during the cookery lesson. Let’s face it baking and making certain things can get messy! If your child has long hair, ensure that it is tied back for health, hygiene and safety reasons.
Get Cookery Clued up
Various cookery books might come in useful so that your child can practise their cooking or baking skills at home with a parent or carer. Always ensure that your child has adult supervision in the kitchen, and uses equipment appropriate for their age or skill base.
Where to get involved locally
Kiddy Cook is based in Twickenham and provide unique kids cooking classes and parties for children aged from 2 - 11 years old. They provide creative cookery workshops that encourage children to learn about healthy eating and nutrition.
Sassy Stirrers started in 2005 offering children’s cooking parties, after school cooking clubs and holiday workshops to young children. More recently Sassy Stirrers has also started to offer cooking classes to gap year and Duke of Edinburgh students. They love healthy food and love to share their cooking skills with passion and enthusiasm.
Forest School - An Overview
Does your child enjoy exploring the great outdoors like Chief Scout Bear Grylls? Studies show that children learn through play and through making their own mistakes and that they need to take small risks in order to be creative. During his 2006 TED talk Sir Ken Robinson stated that “creativity is as important as literacy, and we should treat it with the same respect”. He goes on to comment that often “we don’t grown into creativity, we grow out of it or we get educated out of it”.
Forest Schools give children the opportunity not only to learn about nature and the great outdoors, but to take small risks. Giving them a sense of independence whilst allowing them to express their creativity in a controlled environment.
Forest Schools - The Benefits
All about the Confidence
In Forest Schools children have the freedom and space to learn new skills and build on their own independence. This is a boost to their self esteem and confidence. Not only that, Forest School is also a very sociable activity; children learn how to work as part of a team through activities. They also may be asked to share equipment to participate in tasks. This all contributes towards working on their social skills for the future.
Back to Nature
Forest School allows your child to get familiar and up close with nature. With living in a digital age, being outside is sometimes overlooked. Being outdoors not only improves physical health, but can also benefit their mental health by teaching and exploring a level of mindfulness. Taking a set time to relax, enjoy nature and take stock of their school week by enjoying the moment of being absorbed by nature.
Taking part in Forest School can also improve a child’s motor skills as well as their communication skills. Outdoor activities tend to fascinate children and they are often keen to learn and show a real sense of motivation to get involved. These skills can easily be translated back into the classroom environment.
Forest School - Who is it best for
Forest School is great for children from the age of 3 years upwards (although it’s always best to check with your activity provider first to find out if any age restrictions apply). Activities in Forest School are great for adventurous kids who have lots of confidence and want to let off some steam outside of school and explore. On the flip side, it would also benefit children who are more quiet and shy or may need extra support with confidence. Learning new skills through play will give them new independence which in turn will be a real boost to their self esteem.
Forest School - The Kit
Whatever the weather …
Forest Schools usually take place in all weathers (except in extreme weather circumstances) so it’s best that your child dresses for the weather. Sensible shoes and appropriate clothing, including waterproofs if required.
Fans of the Forest
Find a local activity provider with a Forest School expert as they will be fully qualified to teach your child bushcraft safely. It’s also important to check that the instructor is fully first aid trained for added peace of mind.
Where to get involved locally
Treehouse Learning is a Forest School usually based in Ham Common Woods in Richmond. They run both holiday workshops and weekly term time sessions. The leaders of Tree House Learning sessions come to a session with an idea which they present to the children. The children then decide where to take it. Example of ideas presented range from tool use, identification of flora and fauna and shelter building to cooking over an open fire.
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