Kids as young as five are enrolling in boot camps and yoga courses to avoid being cooped up in the house these school holidays.

School holiday programmes kicked off last week and the variety of activities available for children has grown to include pilates, cartooning and coding.

Child psychologist Emma Woodward said as long as kids were engaged and involved in something they were interested in, then it was "a healthy thing" to participate in holiday programmes.

She said the take-away for parents was to make sure enrolling their kids in a programme was about the child and not themselves.

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"Holiday programmes have become a bit more savvy and commercial, and I think they're sometimes sold to parents to make them feel like they're being better parents."

Woodward said device-free programmes were often beneficial.

"They have to make their own fun using their own imagination. That's a skill I think children really need because we live in such a hyper-connected environment.

"They need time to disconnect and be children and let their little brains catch up with themselves."

Les Mills Fitness Academy for kids at the gym's Auckland City branch features cross-fit, ringside boxing and jiu jitsu for kids 13 and under.

Fitness Academy supervisor Melissa White said the programme was popular, especially with parents who were already members of Les Mills.

"Parents love that their kids are getting a bit of exercise, sometimes between their own exercise here. It's all very fun and age-appropriate.

"We have 5-year-olds who are straight from school who have never done cross-fit in their life, through to 12-year-olds who've been doing it for years."

White said the programme could take 30 kids per exercise session and tended to be booked out quickly.

 Jennifer Allen from Auckland's Jaya Yoga practices yoga with kids as part of their school holiday programme. Photo / Supplied
Jennifer Allen from Auckland's Jaya Yoga practices yoga with kids as part of their school holiday programme. Photo / Supplied

The North Shore's Jaya Yoga is fostering future yogis with a Mindful Kids holiday programme.

Owner Jennifer Allen recently created the programme following the popularity of her after school classes with 25 children.

The holiday programme for five to 12-year-olds involves meditation, breathing, chanting, mandala art and downward dogs- with bliss balls for a morning snack.

Allen said yoga could help children deal with their emotions.

"A 12-year-old girl came up to me before the programme and said, 'I'm a bit nervous as I'm one of the older ones here, but I'm feeling a bit overloaded at school so I think this will be good for me'. She ended up loving it."

For kids with an arty streak, Wellington's Weta Workshop is running a holiday programme for children to create cartoon characters with a Weta artist, and sculpt with plasticine.

And for those who can't sit still, there's juggling, tumbling and aerial tricks to learn at Newtown's Circus Hub 9am to 3pm.

Computer game Minecraft and coding sessions are also on offer from holiday programme provider Bubble Dome.

There are four-day game development courses, and invention programmes that "tackle architectural and engineering challenges".

For parents keen to give kids an old-fashioned dose of fresh air, Hibiscus Coast's The Forest School has an Into the Wild holiday programme.

The Forest School's Braxton Irwin and Isabella Whitehead (left) climbing with friends on the child-built tree hut deep in the forest.
The Forest School's Braxton Irwin and Isabella Whitehead (left) climbing with friends on the child-built tree hut deep in the forest.

Owner Tennille Murdoch said it was hugely popular with a waitlist to get in.

Between 21 and 28 children attend each day, coming from as far away as Mangawhai, Snells Beach, South Auckland and Hamilton.

"Parents like it because it's often not something they can give to their child. There's a lot of families growing up without a back yard, and we're in the country where there's a real wilderness feel, even as you come up the drive."

They have giant games of hide and seek and capture the flag in the forest, and there's construction play with whittling knives, saws and drills.

Murdoch said it was funny to think how popular school holiday programmes had become as they didn't exist when she was growing up. "We were always just in someone's backyard inventing games."