Anyone who knows me, knows I am insanely passionate about children and movement.
Movement is so unbelievably important from a young age and teaching our children the basic skills of throwing, catching, squatting, kicking, etc through play is imperative for the development of their fine and gross motor skills.
Active play is not only important for children’s physical development, it’s also important for their brain growth, their communication and social development. As a nation we are moving less and less and becoming more and more unhealthy, this doesn’t just have an effect on hour general health, but also our mental health. Movement and mental health are so closely intertwined.
We want to encourage a love of being physically active in pre-school and facilitate a lifelong love of movement, so that it will help lay the foundations for creating a good attitude towards a healthy lifestyle which will hopefully continue through childhood, and into adult life.
Carmen Dodds, Paediatric Occupational Therapist from Ready Steady Go Kids has some fabulous advice on getting our children moving and what activities are suitable for what age.
Here’s a snapshot:
Milestones for a toddler.
- Learn to gain more balance
- Become more confident in their motor abilities
- Test out new skills – move whilst holding a toy, bend down and get up; climb stairs; jump and run
- Fine motor skills begin to develop – use utensil and crayons
Milestones for Pre-Schoolers:
- Coordination is consolidated and fine motor skills established
- Can catch and throw a ball
- Can ride a tricycle
- Confident climbers
- Fine motor skills – Can build block towers, Can do basic cutting with scissors, A tripod pencil grip is established(+/- 5 years old)
Things you can easily do…
Visit your local playground: Playgrounds are all different and require different skills. Children can practice different skills such as climbing which is great to develop trunk and upper arm strength; going up and down stairs and swinging.
Play games that include lots of gross motor skills like running; hopping; jumping; skipping; galloping (Simon says; Follow the leader).
Use the footpath; jumping over the cracks, running or creating artwork with footpath chalk.
Use the fence to draw and create artwork with footpath chalk – working on a vertical surface helps to develop strength in the arms. Chalk is a great tool to practice fine motor skills. Use a spray bottle to spray the chalk off the fence – great to strengthen the fingers/hands. Draw; practice letters and numbers.
Be outdoors or indoors and be physically active – build an obstacle course: you can set up different stations that focus on jumping, climbing and crawling. Pretend to be different animals (hop like a bunny, jump like a frog, walk like a bear), dance to Little Rockers Radio.
Play ball: Using both small and large balls, you and your child can focus on developing and improving throwing, catching and kicking skills.
Focus on the core and shoulders: Many kids have decreased core stability or weak shoulder muscles. Activities that help to strengthen both areas include wheelbarrow walks, crab walks, bear walks and push-ups. Lots of time of the tummy helps to develop core strength – lie on your tummy to watch tv; read; colour; play games.
Get involved in tasks at home that involve heavy work and motor skills:
“Heavy work” helps children to focus, remain calm and helps ease sensory needs. Many household chores and activities involve heavy work.
Heavy work is an activity that requires using your joints/muscles and puts pressure on them as you move, for example pushing furniture; carrying bags of groceries; carrying laundry.
- Do the dusting with an old sock on your hand;
- Water plants with a watering can/bucket;
- Help pack way toys using BBQ tongs (dirty laundry; puzzle/games/lego blocks);
- help with the washing; aim and throw balls of socks into the washing basket; push/pull and move the laundry basket.
Get your kids moving to our Ready Steady Go Kids short, fun audio programs.
Take part in the Little Rockers Radio #IAmProject and complete the Active Chart for this week. Complete all the tasks and download the special I AM KIND certificate from www.littlerockersradio.com.au/hippo-blue-uniquely-you/