Physical activity for very young children is an often ignored issue because we tend to overlook its needs and benefits. Many parents think their children are active enough and don’t need to be encouraged to becoming more physically active.
How much is enough?
According to the American Heart Association, “All children age 2 and older should participate in at least 60 minutes of enjoyable, moderate-intensity physical activities every day that are developmentally appropriate and varied.” The AHA also states, “If your child or children don’t have a full 60-minute activity break each day, try to provide at least two 30-minute periods or four 15-minute periods in which they can engage in vigorous activities appropriate to their age, gender and stage of physical and emotional development.”
The Dept. of Sports & Recreation of Australia have outlined the benefits to children:
*Emotional wellbeing: Helps children feel more confident, happy, relaxed, improve self- esteem and self concept, sense of belonging, ability to sleep better, self expression and the opportunity to achieve.
*Health: Encourages healthy growth and development of children’s bodies, including feeling more energetic, developing coordination and movement control and maintaining a healthy body weight.
*Mental health: Improves concentration skills and ability to manage anxiety and stress.
*Social skills: Develops skills such as cooperation and teamwork, and is a great way to have fun, meet new people and develop friendships and integration.
*Learning and productivity: Active children are generally more motivated and better organised than children who are inactive. Physical activity has direct links to improved learning outcomes.
*Positive school environment: Active students are generally less aggressive and experience fewer discipline problems.
*Reduction in anti-social behaviour: Active children are less likely to smoke, use illicit drugs or be involved in criminal activity.
Take The “No Excuses” Strategy
What if we don’t have a garden or access to a playground? What do we do on rainy days?
In the Alaska Dept. of Education and Early Development website, there is a Mealtime Memo that offers some of following Creative Tips and Strategies for Physical Activities on Rainy Days.So without the outdoors, play equipment or sunny days, there are still lots of things to do at home…
- Turn on the radio and DANCE!
- Set up an obstacle course using chairs, cones and balls.
- Place mats on the floor for tumbling, yoga, and movement.
- Play cooperative games using hula hoops, streamers, parachutes, and beach balls.
- Interactive simple games like hide and seek, tickle time, tag, or throwing & catching balls.
And when the sun comes up…water plants, bike or scoot in the garage, fly a kite together, kick and pass a ball, race around the yard.
You Can Make It Happen…
Young children rely on their parents, teachers and caregivers to plan their daily routine. Therefore, it is our responsibility to make sure we are providing them enough opportunity to play and be physically active. We also need to take charge of striking a healthy balance between inactive times (tv, computer or handheld devices) and active playtime.
My favorite part of Romp Time – is watching children light up and hearing them laugh as they have a good time!
Teacher Thumby Server-Veloso, MA has been working with young children since 1993. She graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on Psychology and Communications. She has a Masters Degree from the University of the Philippines in Family Life and Child Development. She is the co-founder and Managing Director of Toddlers Unlimited, Manila’s premiere learning center that offers high quality, developmentally appropriate programs for children 6 months to 5 years. She is the proud mother of Lucas and Verena.Toddler Unlimited Address: 4F Festival Supermall, Filinvest Corp. City, Alabang, Muntinlupa Telephone: +632.850.4064 Mobile: 09178982557 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.toddlersunlimited.com Facebook: ToddlersUnlimited