4 lessons I want my children to take away from the Rio Olympic Games

#1—Rio 2016 has shown us that no one ‘type’ of person makes a winner. 

4 lessons I want my children to take away from the Rio Olympic Games

“Did Yusra really save people when her boat broke down?” my daughter asked, eyes glued to the screen as we watched a brief glimpse of the Olympic Refugee team. We were cozied up in the family room on a pile of blankets, watching the Olympics at a time when the kids definitely should be in bed. But I am willing to let go of all my rules this month.

This is the first Olympics my kids have seen. This is the first time I felt the Olympics—with its message about the spirit of sports and friendship—is really, really needed. I want my children to remember the 2016 summer games for the rest of their lives.


Why? Because there has been motivation, determination, encouragement, and support at every corner during these past couple of weeks. But mostly because of these four invaluable lessons:

1. Because Rio 2016 showed us that no one ‘type’ of person makes a winner.

The U.S Gymnastics Team blasted the stereotype of what a ‘Gymnastics’ team should look like. Right from an immigrant coach to African American superstars, the team stood for just two things that united a brilliant and diverse team, talent (and nerves of steel.) And when Simone Biles said “I am not the next Usain Bolt. I am not the next Michael Phelps. I am the first Simone Biles” well, my instinct to print it out and put it up on my daughter’s wall ran pretty high.

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2. Because I want my son to grow up watching women win.

The Rio Olympics is where women are kicking butt and everyone is noticing. The Olympics is one event where we can watch everyone win, not just men. I should not just tell my girls that they can do anything, I should be showing my boy how they win (answer? The same as everyone—by working hard and never giving up.)

3. Because, as they say, age ain’t nothing but a number.

“Because I can” That’s what Kristen Armstrong, a day shy of 43, said when asked why she was competing at her age in the Olympics. She won the gold in women’s cycling, thus teaching us that age is, literally, just a number. For it is not just important for me to inspire my kids to do better, I want to be inspired myself. So that the next time we drive our bikes together, I want the Rio Olympics to inspire my kids to cheer me on just as much as I cheer them on.

4. Because, sometimes, there are no borders.

There is actually a team filled with refugees. Let that sink in for a bit. It is a team with people who do not belong to one particular country. This blows my mind. Because when there is divisive talk today about patriotism and immigration, this is literally the one event that shows that people triumph borders and politics. Passion and dedication can break down walls.

I want my children to learn from the athletes who lost but returned to try again.

I want them to think about the athlete who injured herself but kept at it.

I want them to cheer on the athlete who is last, but still running because participation is the first step.

I want them to be inspired by team members supporting and helping each other.

I want them to know that it doesn’t matter who you are, what color your skin is or what you wear as long as you work hard and have the fire within.

Because the Olympics literally is the greatest show in the world. And we have been huddled in front of the television, taking it all in. So when my daughter asks about Yusra Mardini, I want to tell her the story of a girl who fought to save people and then competed with the world’s best. I want to show her that there are so many countries out there just like ours, yet different. That there are people out there, trying their best, just like us. That we are one world.

Will my kids understand the political nuances to the Olympics? Likely not. But they will remember the stories that make the Olympics. That, ultimately, is why it has been important for us to watch it together.

Sapna Satagopan is the co-founder of xyza:news for kids. You can follow her at @sapnasf.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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