I’ve been spending more time in recent weeks hanging out at my parents’ home and fumbling through old pictures and toys. It made me think of the all the activities and time we spent playing games and just being together. At the same time, I came across a great blog post in Edutopia on resilience. It talked about need for youth to have “charismatic adults” in their lives in order to foster a “never give up” mindset. Whether it’s a parent, a teacher, a coach or all of the above, the development of this meaningful relationship allows for youth to have a resource when questions arise. More importantly, they have genuine support when work gets difficult or life presents challenges. Finally, I thought about some of the old school activities I did with my parents and charismatic adults growing up that were simple, relaxed and allowed for true bonding time. Without trying, they were acts that modeled grit. Too often, I think we (or at least I can speak for myself for sure) try too hard to find those cutting edge activities backed by research that are going to move our children into these extraordinary adults we want them to become. Sometimes, it’s those old school activities that have stood the test of time that can work just as well if not better. With that, here is my top ten list of classic, old school activities with grit themes that I enjoyed as a child and now enjoy with my kids.
1. Learning to ride a bike:
We all remember this challenge and frustration as a child. Remember experiencing your 100th fall and sitting on the ground with your bike in your neighborhood street and experiencing that feeling of defeat? “I give up!” was the phrase echoed by my son over and over when he learned to first ride a two-wheeler. I remember moving his helmet to wipe his tears away. But each time; while longing to secretly pull my hair out and scream in a pillow; I said, “You can do it. Let’s try it again.” He did of course and now he zips around the block on his bike like it’s the easiest thing in the world. My only advice: be selfish and don’t let anyone else teach your child to ride a bike but you. Be the one who runs along side them as they learn to balance on two wheels. It’s a feeling you will never forget as you stop running and just watch them bike ahead of you in accomplishment.
2. Going fishing:
Fishing is an activity that can provide enjoyment for hours. It takes practice and patience with dedication. My husband took our son fishing for the first time not that long ago and he instantly fell in love. Many stories of my husband’s childhood often involved fishing with his dad and spending hours together talking and bonding. Sometimes they came home with a lot of fish and sometimes none at all. But the time spent together was always priceless.
3. Building a card house:
As I mentioned in a past post, this activity offers a few simple, old-fashioned lessons in patience, frustration, hope, disappointment, faith, and starting over. As my six-year old daughter and I dove into our card house a few weeks ago there was a rich mix of frustration and satisfaction. Laughter followed by yelling followed by high fives!
4. Finishing a family puzzle:
Completing a puzzle together as a family can be a one-stop cognitive development and character-building activity for everyone. There are few educational experiences that have the potential to teach such a varied range of thinking skills, as well as other useful skills such as patience and perseverance. Learning these skills can benefit your child at any stage of life. Not to mention, allow for important time together as a family. Jigsaw puzzles are cheap and easy to obtain. Only a small space is needed to do them and very little can go wrong, provided that you don’t lose pieces or let the dog chew them. This activity is one where you can help your child gain confidence in a range of skills that will benefit her in many areas of learning.
5. Board game fun. Go monopoly and chess!
Many board games instruct kids on strategy and risk. A classic example is chess, which mirrors a battle between two equally armed opponents. Children utilize problem-solving and decision-making skills. They learn to think ahead and envision the consequences of moves made in the present. In other classic board games, such as Monopoly, children learn how to accumulate resources, decide what resources to put at risk and learn how to transform resources into rewards. Games utilizing dice, cards or spinners add an element of randomness. This is a good way to teach your child the importance of resourcefulness and adaptability. A roll of the die can determine whether fortunes are won or lost in games like Monopoly.
6. Help a neighbor:
Teaching gratitude and service are activities that never get old and go a long way. See if a neighbor needs help to keep up their lawn or if you see them getting groceries out of their car, ask if they need a hand. Modeling behavior that promotes service and valuing the importance of “taking care of your neighbor” are ones that your child will notice and act on as they become adults.
7. A game of capture the flag:
A great activity that promotes physical activity and can be played anywhere with a good amount of space. Playing as a family can make for some friendly competition and fun.
8. Group jumprope:
“Ice cream, soda pop, cherry on top. Who’s my best friend, I forgot….” So many songs and rhymes to count can be sung when jumping rope. Group jumprope is game that can involve all family members and friends. With a twirler on each end of the rope, each person takes turns successfully jumping once through and then out of the rope. Once everyone has gone through with no mistakes, the group tries again but this time doing two jumps. If they still make no mistakes, the group tries for three and on and on we go with group jumprope madness. Anytime a mistake is made, the game starts all over again with the group trying to make it through the jumprope with one jump each. This is another great activity that promotes physical activity, team work and cheering one another on. Don’t you remember playing this outside as kids for hours and hours?
You can either do what my brother and I did with our dominoes as kids which was build zig zaggy lines and then watch them fall with one push or play a legit game with all 28 pieces. Either way, it’s a game that teaches patience and strategy.
10. Game of HORSE:
I know it’s just basketball but who can deny the life lessons in a game of HORSE? At its core it is a game of determination, where difficult and sometimes next to impossible shots are used to eliminate the competition from play. Too serious? Ok, it’s a great activity for young and old as it requires more shooting skill rather than stamina. Enjoy the outdoors and play a game of HORSE with your family!
Lots of old school games like these and other critical thinking games are part of our Grit Moms hangout guide. Contact us for more info!