5 gifts to buy your kids that will make them smarter, richer & healthier

5 gifts to buy your kids that will make them smarter, richer & healthier

There are some toys no parent should buy no matter how hard their kids beg, and these include the skanky Bratz dolls and those horrible looking Furbies. Worst of all, constantly pandering to your child's every whim is going to make you quite poor, as toys these days are much more expensive than they were back in the days when a Hot Wheels car could make a kid's day.

Here are some gifts that can pay off by not only keeping your kid occupied but also making him or her a little smarter, healthier and, hopefully, richer somewhere down the road.

1. Books

In a country where recreational reading is sorely lacking, providing your child with a generous supply of books can pay great dividends later on. Don't worry so much about whether you're getting the "right" books or fret if your kid prefers to read trashy novels a la Twilight. The whole idea is just to get him or her to enjoy reading and to reap the benefits of being an avid reader. You can then hope that with age his or her taste will improve. Hey, many people who are now reading Proust or James Joyce started out with Sweet Valley High and the Hardy Boys.

2. Musical instrument

The benefits of studying music early on in life are well-documented, and might even boost your child's test scores. That's reason enough for most parents to endure listening to daily practice sessions for the next few years. If you don't want to splash out on a piano, don't. A guitar or ukulele are much cheaper and might be even better options for the frugal parent as a motivated child can teach himself with the help of YouTube.

3. Art supplies

Your kid might not exactly become the next Picasso, but getting him art supplies-drawing paper, coloured pencils, crayons and poster paint, is an inexpensive way to help him to fill up his time the way kids did in the era before iPads and PlayStations. It might also help him develop artistic skills that could pave the way to a career in design or architecture later on in life. Even if you think your child doesn't have any artistic talent, if he is young enough, simply chucking some paper and pencils in front of him might produce results that would surprise you.

4. Rollerblades

The government has started harping on the fact that kids aren't getting enough exercise (well, whose fault is it really that kids spend all their time studying?). But your kid might not be into competitive sports, especially since kids on school sports teams get placed under intense pressure to win medals. And you might not be prepared to pay for expensive fencing coaching sessions or horse riding lessons. Instead, get your kid a pair of rollerblades and have family skating sessions, just so his young muscles don't atrophy in front of a desk. The great thing about rollerblading is that it can be done alone and doesn't require any additional costs beyond perhaps a few introductory lessons.

5. Computer

I'm not going to lie-you could be creating a monster by buying a computer for your child, especially if he discovers the pleasures of Word of Warcraft. Still, the internet offers so many possibilities, and kids are getting so great at teaching themselves all manner of skills from web design to programming, that not getting your child a computer would close off many opportunities for him. With a second-hand laptop your child might become a programming whiz, a YouTube sensation or the owner of a successful online business. Or he might not. But you never know until you learn to let go a little.

This article first appeared in MoneySmarthttp://blog.moneysmart.sg/family/5-gifts-to-buy-your-kids-that-will-make-them-smarter-richer-and-healthier/

MoneySmart.sg is Singapore’s leading personal finance portal, and aims to help people maximise their money with powerful tools and engaging content.

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