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Ten Kinds of Experiences Your Children Should Have While Growing Up

There is one question that parents are always asking us: “What kinds of experiences should I as a parent be sure to provide to my kids while they are growing up?”

I sat down Jedd & Janelle Schroy, Co-Founders of the Adventure Clubs app, as I wanted to find hear firsthand their thoughts about this question. Having sold over 100,000 experiences (“adventures” they are called on the app), they know a thing or two what kids love and what they need.

Toni: 
“You all both have an extensive background as educators and as experience designers both with Adventure Clubs and through other educational platforms, and you are Community Leaders for Open IDEO, one of the top innovative creative groups in the world. You also have some serious “street cred” as parents who have had four children in the space of six years.
So, in your opinionbroadly speakingwhat are some of the most important types of experiences parents need to ensure their children get on a regular basis while they are growing up, and why?”
Janelle: 
“I would say exposure to ANIMALS is important on a regular basis, the wider the range of animals, the better. Animal experiences for children are proven to: do so much to help children develop. (Great article about this here.)

 

Definitely CREATIVE experiences too, ones that allow kids to get fully messy and have all five senses engaged. That might include visual arts, performing arts. Visual arts might be activities such as as painting, sewing, crafting, woodworkingany kind of visual arts that allows kids to show self-expression and experiment with color and texture. Performing arts might be theater shows, musicals, puppets, all kinds of performances. Kids need to be both on the audience side of experiencing creative arts and the performing side of building their confidence and stretching their creative capacity through performing.

 

Regular experiences in the ENVIRONMENT are also key. Exploring the environment can include so much, everything from learning about outer space, to water conservation, to recycling, to gem mining, or all about trees and plants, and so much more. Kids are more likely to pick up key lessons about the environment through guided hands-on learning in forests, beaches, nature walks, etc. than they are in a classroom, so parents need to seek out these experiences. It has to be FUN and allow for a great deal of curiosity and meandering. Curiosity is key to education.

There’s a variety of other kinds of experiences related to SOCIAL EDUCATION, which sounds vague, but I’m talking about language and speech development, social understanding of manners and culture, geography, what people do for jobs, and that sort of thing. There’s so much fun we can have showing our kids how to appreciate our military and community helpers, and how to navigate social contexts.

No childhood would be fully rounded out if there weren’t plenty of FOOD-based experiences all the time. Parents tend to take this one more lightly than they should, especially when they have kids who are picky eaters! Yet, exposure to a WIDE-variety of food (global cuisine from all parts of the world) on a normal basis is critical to the development of a healthy child, both physically and socially. We live in a global age, where we can jet off to the other side of the world for vacation or work at a moment’s notice. Kids who know how to adapt and navigate through a variety of culinary experiences will be more comfortable and confident as they travel and as they build friendships across cultures.
We live in a world where we can access nearly any kind of information with a few keystrokes on a laptop. Seeing history and artifacts in person can feel unnecessary or redundant (thanks, Google, for that one!). This means MUSEUMS and CULTURAL experiences often a backseat to the convenience of looking at photos and videos online. But there’s a huge missed opportunity if parents don’t craft intentional time to explore museums as well as cultural festivals and events. So many museums have scavenger hunts if you ask, or kid’s programming at the theater, but you’ve got a track it and actually go. And these hands-on experiences always stick in a way that classroom learning might not.
One of the kinds of experiences I am personally most passionate about are in the area of MUSIC AND DANCE. We have all heard how many schools and programs have had to make cuts, and this is often the first to go if money is tight in education. And yet, music and dance develop so many crucial elements in a child’s brain, from storytelling to math to emotional intelligence. Music and dance are key to a child who understands how to express themselves in various ways. Parents need to ensure their children are getting those experiences one way or another and often, cities have incredible music events that are deeply enriching and educational.”
Jedd:
“As a dad, I have found that exploring PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS is critical to how my relationship is developing with my daughters. I love seeing them navigate all the different playgrounds, testing their strength and dexterity on a variety of equipment. Taking them on trail hikes and bike paths is important too, and it pushes their curiosity and encourages them to develop “grit” when the going gets tough. And there are SO MANY parks and playgrounds to explore in every city!
It may sound cliche, but SPORTS AND FITNESS tend to be a Dad-fav too! I grew up playing baseball, ultimate Frisbee, and other team sports. Janelle, on the other hand, didn’t do team sports but rather a variety of dance, yoga, and individual / class types of sports. I think they are all very important for a child to experience. Some kids are super competitive and love the sports that result in a win or loss, and others just want to push themselves individual rather than be scored for their efforts or be part of a team effort. But it’s our job as parents to introduce this variety to our children and see where they thrive the most.
There are so many cool kinds of TRANSPORTATION, and I’ve seen that kids REALLY enjoy learning about planes, trains, boats, drones, and all kinds of cars. Some of my favorite memories with my kids are on speedboats or tugboats, in luxury sports car stores, flying drones, and poking around antique planes. Later in life, when kids are writing about these kinds of things in school, their writing will be so much stronger due to first-hand experience. Same goes for their excitement engineering and design because of having experiences with various kinds of transportation.”
You asked for ten, but I want to add one more, and that’s experiences with what we call WATER PLAY. (Great article about it here). Water covers 70% of our planet, and we need to know it and understand it. Our kids need to know how to conserve water, play in water, swim, fish, and the different states of water, etc. Water play is fun AND important for childhood development.”
Janelle: 
“We haven’t talked about faith-building (in whatever faith context your family ascribes to) and volunteering experiences, but those are critical too! A child needs to engage deeply with your family values in order to understand how to relate to the world around them and develop with a firm grounding in identity and belief systems.”
Toni: 
That’s a great list! Sounds like a lot that parents need to ensure their kids are getting. Any tips for how they can do that?
Janelle: 
I always encourage parents (moms AND dads) to watch their local magazines and Facebook events to know what’s going on around their city and actively engage in getting out there to attend different things. If a parent is wise about it and stays informed, they can piece it together. We created the Adventure Clubs app to be a resource where families can find all those options for family experiences and book into them if they want to (or get a refund when their kid wakes up exhausted or sick!).
It’s a great idea to know what you want out of parenting and where you are going and actually proactively design the childhood you want for your kids. Here’s a great article about this.
Jedd: 
I think for dads and for working moms, our week is so full with work stuff that when it comes to an evening or a weekend and we get to spend time with our awesome kids, we want to play and we want things to be easy to figure out where to go and what to do (and have all those experiences mentioned above). But the truth is, nothing worth having is easily gained. We have to make it happen.
I mean, hey, if we can put together a multi-million dollar merger, surely we can schedule quality experiences with our kids! No doubt, it may be easier to just hit up the playground or the pool for the millionth time, but how boring, right? It’s way more fun to head to the zoo and do a behind the scenes tour with a zookeeper, or rent a kayak and explore some sea caves? Just takes some forward thinking.
Toni: 
Let’s talk frequency. When I look at the above 10 kinds of experiences, I’m going, “Wow, that’s a lot!” What do you recommend in terms of how often these experiences need to be part of our kids’ lives?
Janelle: 
Some of that comes down to what you value as a family. For some, arts and culture are really important, so the emphasis on those will be more frequent, maybe twice a month with the others being maybe once a month. For others, their family greatly values being outdoors, so those environment adventures are going to be weekly at least, if not daily. But a good rule of thumb is to try to ensure that you are hitting on each of the above once per month, and then up the frequency of the ones you value most. I know many Adventure Clubs families use our monthly checklist and just put it on their fridge door each month, and mark of the ones they offer to their kids as they go through the month. This is very effective and a super easy way to plan.
Toni: 
Love those idea! Thanks for these great tips! Part two of this conversation will be posted next week regarding practical tips of finding these experiences in each of the areas mentioned.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Toni de Beer is the social media director for Adventure Clubs. As such, she oversees content for 6 Instagram feeds (our official feed, plus 5 city-focused feeds), our main Facebook page, 5 city-focused Facebook groups, our Twitter feed and our Pinterest page. In addition to working with our content creation team, Toni also ensures that every person who has a question or comment about Adventure Clubs gets a great answer (hence this interview!).

CONTACT: 
To share thoughts or comments about our social media feeds or about Adventure Clubs in general, please email Toni: toni@adventureclubs.com. If it’s a tech question about the Adventure Clubs app, email support@adventureclubs.com
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Adventure Clubs is a family experience design company that offers a gift to you as a parent. We make it easy for you to enjoy beautiful moments with your children in a way that’s social, affordable, flexible, and fun. Download the app for iPhone or Android and start adventuring! Adventure Clubs © Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
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