Parenting is all about spending time with your kids, but for most of us, that time is often spent shuttling them to activities or supervising homework and chores. Just being in the same room with your child isn’t enough – it’s important to find ways to hang out with your kids, ideally doing things they love to do.
Sign your little one up for a class or camp – either one you can do together or something for him to do on his own – and then make a point of pursuing that activity as a team. You might be surprised at the way something as simple as a day at the museum or an afternoon run can change your relationship with your child.
Instilling a life-long love of cooking in your child means building his or her confidence in the kitchen. For many kids, a cooking class – sans mom or dad – is the best way to do this. Sign your little Bobby Flay up for a cooking class and then let him take over in the kitchen, while you serve as assistant. Extend the lesson – and the quality time with your child – to grocery shopping for ingredients for a meal. And then encourage your child to invite friends and family to share the bounty.
Tulsa’s Sage Culinary Studio offers a variety of classes and camps for kids as well as adult-child cooking sessions designed to introduce kids to grown up food (dim sum and fondue, for example).
In Oklahoma City, the Young Chefs Academy has created a kid-friendly kitchen space designed specifically for little cooks. Young Chefs Academy classes include a recipe binder for participants so that they can recreate what they’ve learned at home. Young Chefs also hosts birthday parties and field trips.
Want something more personal? Consider hiring a personal chef to come to your home and teach a parent-child class for a group. Most classes can be tailored to the group’s tastes and experience or can be built around a holiday or theme. This is a great way to get to know your child’s friends and their parents.
Admit it: You’re one of those parents who is counting down to middle school because you’re really excited about the Science Fair. Don’t wait to get your child excited about science – take advantage of their interest and toss some Mentos into a bottle of Coke and see what happens (but not inside the house – I warned you). And when you’re done experimenting at home, follow up the cool science opportunities in your community.
Oklahoma City’s Science Museum Oklahoma offers a range of exhibits and programs for kids of all ages. Whodunit?, created in partnership with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, introduces kids to forensic science, while permanent exhibits like the Gadget Tree turn physics into playtime.
For Neil Armstrong wannabes, the Tulsa Air and Space Museum is the answer. TASM offers one-day mini-camps throughout the school year and a summer aerospace camp that you’ll wish you could sign yourself up for.
How do you get your kids off the couch and on their feet? You can sign them up for a team, but if you want the benefits of exercising with your kids without the hassle of hauling them to practices and games, think about taking up a sport together. Running and cycling are two simple activities that have long-term health benefits, and both will enable you to spend quality time with your child.
The Oklahoma City Marathon includes a Kids’ Marathon, open to runners through sixth grade. Participants keep a running log where they track 25 miles of running before race day; the log has to be signed by a parent or teacher, but of course we suggest that instead of just writing your name, you run the miles with your little athlete. On race day, participants run a secure, closed, 1.2-mile course in downtown Oklahoma City. Each participant gets a t-shirt and a medal, and parents can run the course with kids for free. This is a great way to get your child motivated to exercise; it’s also an opportunity to introduce her to an important community event in Oklahoma City’s history.
Want to do more than just run a mile? Think about getting your child involved in a kids’ triathlon. There’s an Iron Kids event in Oklahoma City each summer; participants compete in age-appropriate distances, and no special equipment is needed. Training for a triathlon gives you a chance to do a variety of physical activities with your child – after all, kids love to swim and run and ride, and they love when adults join in.
If you’re raising a crafty kid – the kind who will draw on any available scrap of paper or use all the LEGOS in the house to build a tiny skyscraper – consider seeking out an art class in your community. Most art museums offer classes that combine a tour of the various permanent and visiting collections with classroom instruction. If your child really loves the museum, pick up a family membership and make a point of going together; looking at art is a simple way to connect with your child and spend time just being together.
Both Tulsa and Oklahoma City have a variety of terrific opportunities for kids to learn about art. If you’re looking for a hands-on experience, consider a class at Oklahoma City’s City Arts Center. With offerings that range from pottery and drawing to bookbinding and tablet weaving, there is quite literally something for everyone.
If your goal is more art appreciation-oriented, consider a class at an art museum. Both the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art offer classes that combine hands-on experience with tours of the galleries. Both sites also offer occasional parent-child classes, which is a fun way to spend an afternoon with your kids. You can find details about classes and tours on the museums’ websites.