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Many parents ask me how to keep their children’s brains active over the summer.
My answer is always the same: let them play! Give them stimulating materials. Let them play with friends, build their imaginations and be creative. Play has so many amazing educational benefits that will keep your child’s brain switched on over the summer.
One great play-based activity you could consider with your children is kite flying.
Here are some educational benefits of flying kites.
The Benefits of Flying Kites
1. Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills are the sorts of skills required to make big movements and generate a lot of power using our limbs. We need to be able to use those big explosive movements but also control them.
When you fly a kite, you run as fast as you can to try to generate enough updraft to get the kite into the sky. You have to run – fast – while still controlling your body and preventing yourself from tripping or running into something. Here, you’re exercising your gross motor skills.
2. Hand-Eye Coordination
Hand-eye coordination is the ability to use your eyes to tell your hands what to do. It is necessary for all sorts of different tasks. Writing is a simple example, but others include sewing, using scissors and playing guitar. The better your hand-eye coordination, the better you will be at basic small tasks that require great dexterity.
When controlling a kite, you need to be able to slowly release (and at times bring back in) the thread that connects your hand to the kite. This ability to slowly release the thread requires hand-eye coordination.
When a child gets better at flying a kite, they can get one that has two strings. These sorts of kites are handled with two hands and can do tricks such as spins and loops in the sky. They require even better hand-eye coordination.
3. Learning to Share
Usually when you go out flying kites, you’ve got to share the kite! Unless you buy a multi-pack of kites for the whole family like this one from Amazon, your child will have to share with others.
It might be a challenge, but your children will have to learn to cooperate and collaborate to make sure everyone gets a fair go. Turn taking, negotiating and helping one another is required for this task to succeed!
4. Following Instructions
Children will also need to learn to follow your instructions so their kite flying is a success! This skills in following instructions can take children a long time to learn.
We teachers have to model following instructions extensively in the classroom. We follow an approach called ‘guided practice‘ to get students following our instructions. It involves:
- Demonstrating something yourself, then
- Getting students to help you do the task, then
- You help the students do the task, then
- The students attempt the task on their own.
Have a go at modeled instruction yourself – and insist your children follow the instructions so they get more and more experience with it!
5. Making Friends
Another huge benefit of flying kites is that your child can make new friends! Have your child invite kids from their class around to fly kites together.
You could even throw a party and get a kite making kit (from Amazon) so all the children can make their own kites at the start of the party before flying them yourselves!
When your child makes new friends, they will build confidence, social skills, and open up new doors to future experiences.
6. Physical Health
Of course, kite flying is not only good for cognitive health (learning). It’s also good for physical health! Children over 6 need an hour a day of physical exercise.
Flying kites requires a lot of running. It also usually involves jumping around screaming, laughing and having a whole lot of fun!
Physical exercise doesn’t have to be hard work. Playing provides children a great chance to let off steam and get that exercise necessary for their own wellbeing.
You can use kite flying as a chance to encourage your child’s creativity. You can get a paint-your-own kite kit (from Amazon) and have your child design their own kite. Or, you can get your child exploring different kite styles (diamond shaped kites, delta shaped kites, etc.) to experiment and explore which different designs seem to work best in different conditions.
When you get your kite to finally get up into the air, your confidence is sky high. You’ve overcome a challenge and succeeded in your task!
Confidence is so important for a child’s learning. When a child has high confidence, they’re more likely to take risks during play, take on bigger and bigger challenges, and tackle problems with self-belief.
When a child becomes better and better at kite flying, they may even start to teach other children their skills – which is an even better confidence builder!
9. Peripheral Awareness
When you fly a kite, you have to keep an eye on that kite trailing behind you as well as the land in front of you. Don’t trip over anything, avoid holes, and make sure your dog doesn’t trip you up! Meanwhile, you want to make sure the kite string isn’t getting twisted up and that the kite is at the right angle to catch the wind.
Learning isn’t always easy. When a child is learning to fly a kite, there’s a good chance they’ll fail the first few attempts.
They may also completely fail one day because the wind is running in the wrong direction or there just isn’t any wind at all.
But if your child persists, they’ll be able to get their kite in the sky eventually. The reward at the end of that persistence is a huge lesson:
“If you keep at it, you’ll achieve your goals.”
11. Learn about Wind Pressure
Kite flying is a science lesson. Your child will only be able to get the kite in the air if they understand how to get the wind running over and across the kite in the right way. The goal of flying a kite is to develop wind pressure below the kite, causing it to be pushed up into the air (this is not like a plane, which is designed by creating low air pressure above the wings so the plane is ‘pulled’ up).
Talk to your child about the science behind a kite, and why the science says they have to run into the wind! With wind, there’s a better ‘push’ into the kite to get it up in the air.
Where to Fly a Kite
1. At the Beach
The beach is a great place to fly a kite, so long as bylaws allow it.
The beach is a space where you have a lot of wind, because it’s a spot where air from the sea meets air from the land. Their different levels of air pressure will often cause a breeze.
It’s also a space where you have a lot of area to run. And when you fall – it’s not so painful, because you’re falling onto sand! Just be careful you don’t run into other people and objects in the sand.
2. At the Park
The park is another wide open space for flying kites. You can run across wide open grassy spaces to see if you can get the kite into the sky. Make sure it’s clear space, there are no hazards around, and that bylaws allow it.
3. In a Breezy Area
Running into the wind can really help a kite get up in the air. It can be very hard to get a kite into the sky on a still day.
But beware that heavy wind or winds that swirl might cause a lot of trouble for the kite, too. So the best time to fly a kite is in a light steady breeze on a nice sunny day.
There are tons of benefits of flying kites. Flying a kite can be a great educational experience. While it may not look like it, a kite flying adventure over the summer can keep your child’s brain active and their body healthy. It can also be an awesome bonding experience for you and your child.