Childhood is a time where children develop bones, muscles, nerves, and physical skills, resulting in coordination and endurance. When most adults think of being physically active, they imagine lifting weights in a gym. For children, being physically active consists of active playing. Through play, children build a foundation for learning as they interact with people and the world around them.
Physical Activity is vital for a child’s development and lays the foundation for a healthy and active life. And when it comes to kids, the best form of physical activity is play!
WHY DO CHILDREN NEED ACTIVE PLAY?
• To encourage bone growth and muscle development
• To support eye-hand coordination
• To keep body weight at healthy levels
• To prevent the development of health issues
• To help them sleep better
• To help them be better prepared to face everyday stress, either physical or emotional
WHY IS ACTIVE PLAY SO IMPORTANT?
Active play has many benefits for children. These include:
• Building strong hearts, muscles and bones
• Developing movement and co-ordination
• Encouraging self-esteem
• Fostering social interaction skills
• Improving thinking skills
• Developing emotional skills.
ACTIVE PLAY ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR CHILD
Children learn best when their whole bodies and minds are stimulated, and being active does just that. Free movement and active play is the most suitable form of physical activity for babies, infants and pre-schoolers. Active play gives children the freedom to move at their own pace, and in their natural ‘stop-start’ pattern. There are many activities that you can do with your children to get them involved with active play.
The skills developed in this activity are sequencing, body space awareness and eye foot coordination:
1. Catching games: Catch bean bags, a rolled up pair of socks as a ball, balls of all sizes, starting with soccer balls and moving towards faster moving balls like tennis balls and ping pong balls
2. Jumping games: Look for objects in the home like sturdy buckets for your child to jump on and off, jump in and out of hoops and on and off small steps.
3. Kicking goals: Set up a goal and have the child try score goals while you act as the goalie. You can make goals using two chairs or pool noodles or you can kick the ball through a hoop.
4. Potato sack races: Using pillow cases is a great alternative to sacks.
5. Bucket balls: Place a bucket about a metre away from your child and get him to throw it into the bucket. Move it further away to make it more difficult. If you don’t have a ball, make your own by rolling newspaper into a tight ball and aiming it at the rubbish bin as your bucket. Your toddler may be too young to throw the ball so posting is a great alternative.
6. Climb a tree in the garden: Have fun using your imagination and find a tree to climb in the garden or at the park.
7. Roll down a hill!
Contributed by Amy Bilsbury of Clamber Club Sports East London
Cell: 072 209 4180