Playing school sports and participating in active after-school activities help children stay physically active, perform well in academics, and develop crucial life skills such as communication, time management, and teamwork. However, sports and after-school activities come at a price–and this is why many children from low-income families can’t afford to participate.
But that doesn’t mean your child can’t stay active outside of school. Even if you have a limited budget to work with, there are lots of ways you can help your child be physically active to help them stay fit and healthy. Here are some of the best examples:
Resurface the local court
If the local basketball court is too run down to be used properly, resurfacing it can give all the neighborhood kids a place to engage in sports. Take the initiative and call upon the local government to get basketball surfacing services for the local court. Get your neighbors to back you up when you go to the local council–after all, they will also benefit if their kids can play sports for free in the community.
Go to the park regularly
You can do all sorts of sports and exercises in the public park without having to spend a single cent. If you want your kids to be more active, take them to the park regularly (or let them go on their own if they are old enough). Invest in a football or a soccer ball that they can play around with, or if you don’t have the budget, look into games that you can play without equipment.
Aside from helping your child get physical activity, taking them to the park can also allow them to meet new friends and spend some time with other kids, which is something that they may be missing out on by not participating in school sports.
Play sports at home
If your child can’t play sports in school or at after-school clubs, you can still encourage them to play at home. Better yet, join in on the fun and get yourself some exercise, too.
There are tons of sports you can play in the backyard or in the driveway albeit with limited space. You can play basketball with an inexpensive hoop installed over the garage door, you can play badminton in the backyard, or you can even go biking together up and down the street.
Utilize free programs
Look into free or low-cost after-school programs in your city that your child can join. There are usually fitness programs that can help your child stay physically active while also interacting with other kids. And since they are free or low-cost, you can let your child join in without worrying about uniforms, equipment, and team fees.
Go to public amenities
If your community has free public amenities that allow for physical activities, such as swimming pools, gyms, and playgrounds, make use of them as much as you can.
Encourage equipment-free exercise
For many low-income parents, purchasing equipment for sports is often out of the question. If this is the case for you, encourage your child to engage in equipment-free exercise. There are a lot of activities that they can choose from, including brisk walking, running, dancing, stair-climbing, and many more. And as always, it’s better to join your child when exercising so that they are more motivated to do it regularly.
Doing housework is another form of exercise, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Assign age-appropriate household chores to your child to get them moving. Chores like mowing, weeding, mopping the floor, vacuuming, raking, and cleaning the bathroom can help burn calories. Better yet, make your house clean at the same time.
Even though doing household chores is not as intense as actual sports or workouts, it’s better for your child to have at least some physical activity instead of none. More importantly, doing chores help teach responsibility, important life skills, and self-reliance to your children.
Walk or bike instead of driving
Opting to walk to the bus stop or bike to school (given that the roads are safe for bikers) can help add much-needed physical activity to your child’s everyday routine. Doing this is cost-free, and can even help you save money by reducing your gas consumption. Better yet, it promotes independence in your children, which will help them grow as a gradually maturing individual.
Having your child join school sports or after-school activities can be expensive and a strain on your already limited budget. Nevertheless, there are lots of other ways that your child can increase their physical activity, starting with the ones highlighted in this guide.