Monday, September 19, 2011

Guest Post: Staying Active As The Fall Approaches

Staying Active As The Fall Approaches
By Kathleen Thomas of Primrose Schools

 Children move from the moment of their birth. As they explore their world, they crawl, walk, run, and use their senses to understand their surroundings. As they grow into toddlerhood, they begin to develop motor skills and discover throwing and catching. Not only does physical activity encourage motor skill development, but children also learn social skills such as self-confidence, teamwork, sharing, and taking turns. 

Children of all ages require as much as 60 minutes of physical activity every day to develop healthy lifestyle habits and combat obesity. With obesity rates rising among children and adults, parents and caregivers wisely encourage regular physical activity. Active children grow up to be active adults. 

Be an active role model. Join in their activities as a participant rather than merely as an observer. As you play with your children, you model healthy habits and build relationships. In addition, use playtime to teach proper techniques and sportsmanship. Children do not magically learn how to play sports and it is nice to give them a head start before they enter,
day care and move on to kindergarten. They require guidance to learn new skills and learn to play nice. Cherish your children during playtime, and create a lifetime of memories and healthy habits.

Rather than demand perfection, accept your child’s skill level and amend the games rules to guarantee success. For young children, lower the basketball hoop or stand close to play catch. Gradually add more challenges as your child masters skills. With each successful milestone, your child grows more confident in their ability to succeed. You create a winning situation by boosting your child’s ability to persevere, and they want to practice and keep trying to improve.

Verbally encourage your children’s efforts during physical activities. Children who struggle with hand eye coordination or dexterity may not enjoy sports activities. Encouraging words show them the importance of doing their best no matter what skills they possess. 

Encourage fair play and kind conduct. Sports remain a highly competitive arena. Teach your child to respect the skill level and playing ability of other children and be intolerant of inappropriate behavior. Many coaches also display poor manners so guard your attitude while you coach, supervise, and play along. Remember the goal of having fun while being physically active rather then playing to win. 

Ensure safety. Choose wide, open spaces for activities. Before play begins, comb the area for litter, exposed tree roots, or other dangerous substances. Insist every child wears appropriate, well-fitting safety gear, including helmets, knee and elbow pads, or chest protection. Frequently check the equipment to ensure it meets safety regulations and includes no exposed edges or holes. Teach proper stretching exercise before play commences. Provide adult supervision at all times, and carry a First Aid kit.

Provide a variety of accurately sized equipment. Children and adults quickly grow bored with the same activities. Add variety by creating a toy tub in your home. Include balls of all sizes, jump ropes, bats, chalk, hoops, beanbags, bubbles, skates, ramps, balance boards, musical instruments, and other items your children enjoy. As your children grow, inspect their toys to verify they meet your children’s needs.

Stay active on any budget. Purchase sports equipment and expensive tennis shoes if your budget allows or find more affordable alternatives. Search for sports equipment at consignment stores or trade stores. Mix homemade bubbles with soap and water. Run through a rain shower or sprinkler in the lawn. Walk, bike, or run around your neighborhood. Draw hopscotch on the sidewalk. Turn on the music and make up dance moves. Practice gymnastic tricks. 

Enroll children in age-appropriate sports. In addition to physical exercise, organized sports teach children sportsmanship, teamwork, and a skill they can use for the rest of their lives. 

Any opportunity children take to exercise, play, and stay active creates a lifetime of benefits. Play with your children every day, and enjoy family activities that teach life skills, combat obesity, and give you time to bond and laugh as a family.

Kathleen is a Communications Coordinator for the Atlanta day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.

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