Get up and get moving!
Physical activity is crucial to the development of children’s gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination, according to Goodstart Warwick-Percy Street’s
centre director Megan Davis.
She is so passionate about helping children develop and grow, she interweaves regular physical activity into all of the centre’s programs.
"Before children start prep, they should be able to skip, hop, jump with two feet in the air, balance and run without bumping into each other," Ms Davis said.
“Our educators utilise group and individual games and activities to help children develop these skills.
“Games with rules, like What’s the time Mr. Wolf? and Hop Scotch, traditional indigenous games such as : kai wed; ju-lu-hy-a or we-me and ball and parachute games all encourage children to be active.”
Ms Davis emphasised physical development did not simply mean the physical body.
“The health and wellbeing of the body is directly related to a healthy mind, and it’s important not to separate these.
“Our educator’s discuss with children how their body feels and what is happening in their body— fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating etc. Having these mindful discussions brings children’s awareness to their body and helps them to understand the processes that are involved in keeping their body in tip-top shape.
“It’s also important in this fast paced world to show children how to rest and be kind to their bodies. A 10-minute yoga session in the morning that includes gross motor movements helps to wake-up the brain; and a few breathing exercises before rest time can be calming.
“Understanding the physiological processes that go on in the body can help children become mindful of how they react in certain situations (stressed, frightened, frustrated etc.) and give them coping strategies (deep breathing or counting to five).”
Ms Davis said educators extend learning about healthy physical lifestyles to families as well.
“At Goodstart, we help families connect with activities and events in the local area. One way we do this is via information boards and displays (with photos) of parks in the local area, recreational opportunities such as walking trails and sporting clubs that cater for young children (Hotshots Tennis; Little Athletics; swimming lessons).”
“The latest Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data
shows the percentage of children vulnerable on the physical health and wellbeing domain has increased from 9.3 per cent in 2009 and 2012, to 9.7 per cent in 2015. Now, more than ever, we need to focus on and promote children’s physical-development.”
There are many more ways parents can incorporate physical activity at home. Our friends from Raising Children Network
have developed some tips to make physical activity fun for children up to five years old, including:
- Walking or taking a bike ride to a local park or playground.
- Playing music, or making sounds with your voice or instruments, to encourage dancing and a sense of rhythm.
- Getting your child to chase bubbles, walk along chalk lines and jump over cracks in the ground or puddles.