The Importance of Physical Activity Since the Early Years
Everything we are, do, listen to and develop since we were little, has a direct impact on our personality and life when we get older.
We know that, not just because of the typical expression “children are like sponges, they absorb everything”, but also because of the behavioral similarities of children with other people when standing in different places… at school, home, in the park…
According to the experts, if the child experiences positive and happy moments of activity during the first years of life, he/she will be more likely to become an adult with healthy life choices, greater autonomy and awareness of his/her choices and their consequences, as he/she will have greater control over his/her own physical and psychological needs of well-being.
Following this line of thought, the Nursery teacher has in his/her power a key influence for the development of these skills, by being able to provide such significant physical activities. Creating healthy routines, encouraging physical activity, creating a creative and active environment, it can motivate children to do so.
The World Health Organization guidelines emphasize and recommend this theme and the reduction of screen time, not only for physical development, but also because it improves sleep and reduces sedentary behavior in children under five years:
“Early childhood education and care settings have an unique opportunity to promote healthy eating, physical activity, and adequate sleep for young children that will help them develop healthy behaviors through their childhood and beyond.” WHO 2020
The goal is for the child to experience, at least, 3 hours of physical activity throughout the day, and every movement counts! (they don’t need large planned games, sometimes the best of each moment is enough).
Here are some ideas… It’s time to move!
Lay the child on his stomach on a mat and spread out various toys and resources around him. So he’ll have to stretch, turn or try to move to get what he wants.
Place different types of cut food in separate spaces on the plate, so the child can exercise the pinching movement at the level of fine motor skills and the coordination of the look-pick-up-to-mouth movement.
ChildDiary Tip: Share unlimited photos and videos with parents! We know how difficult it is to make small movies with babies ;)
One to 3 Years Old
Who doesn’t love to dance?! Exploring different types of music and letting children dance/move freely through the space, being part of it and themselves, are great ways of self-knowledge, expression and confidence.
Obstacle games, when the child is improving their gait, it helps them to progress faster, as it motivates them to try and challenge their limits. It generates confidence and dexterity, as well as working on problem solving at a cognitive level.
Going up and down stairs/blocks is another way to give the child space and freedom to learn and move around (always supervised, of course!). Babies can crawl or climb stairs gaining more resistance, and in older ones it promotes balance.
ChildDiry Tip: Through messages, ask parents to indicate different types of music they like to hear, so you can play them in the classroom. Thus, they feel part of the action and daily life of their children!
Free run and dynamic outdoor paths using the green space, tree roots, among others, show the child that we trust them enough to let them explore without getting hurt, but also convey confidence in themselves to do so, and for us to help if necessary. In addition, the gross motor skills and balance are worked here.
Themed games (catch, ball game, treasure hunt…) help children to harmonize physical and intellectual effort, as they have to develop strategies and make decisions at the same time as the game itself takes place. Promoting problem solving, creativity and socialization.
Movement “Class” using different materials (hoops, balls, climbing wall…) are always a good option for rainy days – and not only – because children like to be able to explore and play with resources they don’t have at home or that they aren’t allowed to use indoors. The gym always gives a sense of freedom and “rebellion” that appeals to them to be more active and creative.
Creating and managing a dynamic to occupy the time in which we propose a series of challenges, also teaches them to wait for their turn, to follow the rules, to test their limits, to be empathetic and understanding and to deal with frustration.
Free play in the outdoor park. Who needs words?! Who didn’t love to play and run with friends at the playground when they were little…?
ChildDiary Tip: In the observations, you can inform parents about the children’s curricular evolution and the various new acquisitions. What other platform allows you to show parents the fantastic job you do?!
In a summary, what benefits do we derive from physical activity, you ask:
Builds confidence and improves social skills;
Gives children the opportunity to learn new skills and teaches important life skills;
Develops the child’s strength (muscles and bones);
Helps to develop coordination, both fine and gross motor skills;
Improves concentration and learning ability;
Makes children feel good about themselves and others;
Helps relieve stress and maintain mental and emotional well-being;
Improves sleep and energy levels;
Improves general health, fitness and also helps children maintain a healthy weight.
Nursery Teachers, where your inner child lives? :)
Have fun with them, and as much fun as they do, in planning and executing these dynamics…
Early Years Education Specialist and Sales Manager