Today’s post is written by Dan Gilbert from Primrose Schools.
Unfortunately, many children are not nearly as active as they need to be. In fact, experts suggest that young children need to accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. It is clear that along with poor diet, physical inactivity has contributed to the large increase in childhood obesity in the United States in the past 20 years. The following statistics are unsettling:
- Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese nationwide.
(Source: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
- The percentage of obese or overweight children is at or above 30 percent in 30 states. (Source: Trust for America’s Health)
Research has shown that children who develop basic motor skills such as throwing, catching, kicking, are more likely to grow into healthy active adults. No matter where the activity takes place whether it is at home with their parents or at preschool with their friends, studies have shown that daily physical activity helps children academically as well.
Dr. Stephen Sanders (director of the School of Physical Education and Exercise Science at the University of South Florida and member of the Primrose Schools Education Advisory Board,) says that children do not necessarily learn physical skills on their own. He has found they need guidance and assistance from adults, challenging activities, and opportunities to practice and refine physical skills.
Kids in sports often excel in the classroom as well as on the athletic field. If children are exposed to sports early in life, not only can they figure out what he or she likes best, but also practice basic skills while learning key concepts that will help them outside of sports such as, sharing, teamwork, and commitment.
So, what can parents do to help them learn these necessary skills and teach their children about the importance of being physically active? Engaging in the tips below will help you and your family creates a fun environment for physical activity and will contribute to everyone’s physical health.
Getting Your Family Active:
Be active with your children: Be a role model! Don’t just send your children off to play by themselves or with their friends. Instead, go outside with them and participate in games and other activities that require physical exertion!
- Use sidewalk chalk to create your own four-square or hopscotch grids; blow bubbles then chase them around the yard to see who can catch them; go on a walk around the neighborhood or through a park as a family; play music and dance inside or outside; and when the weather is nice put on your bathing suits and run through the sprinklers.
- Promote a feeling of success when you play with your child. If your child is not yet able to successfully throw and hit a target, encourage them to move a little closer so they can be successful. Skills are acquired incrementally. Children who do not experience success have a tendency to quit and not practice.
- Acknowledge their efforts with specific comments. No matter what your child’s skill level is, it is important to be a supportive coach. Your child will benefit from your encouragement and support.
- Let them be the teacher. As “sports parents,” (parents of children who play sports) it is an easy way to engage in activity with your child. Act like you have never played before and allow your child to teach you about their favorite sport. This will give them a sense of encouragement, and confidence. It will also allow your child to practice his/her skills while spending quality time with them.
Getting your child active by enrolling them in extracurricular activities such as team sports is a great way to keep your child active. However, during the off seasons, it is important to keep your child just as active.
When children come into the world, physical activity is at the very center of their lives. They have a mission to learn to crawl, walk, run, throw, catch, and kick. If they are going to enjoy participating in physical activities now and as adults, they need to build on that foundation of success and enjoyment that begins in infancy. Set aside time each day to play with your child. Grab a racket, a ball, ride a bike or jump some rope, and whatever you do, have fun with your child!
Submitted by Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, they have helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and education. Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Dan has written a number of articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.