Keeping indoors doesn’t mean that your little ones have to stop moving! Especially at a young age, movement is more than fitness fun – it’s key to boosting their motor skills, gain strength and flexibility. Here’s a look at why it’s crucial to get children on their feet and some exercises they can do in the comforts of your home.
Why is movement crucial for growing children today?
According to the Creative Learning Through Movement approach, movement is key to children’s social-emotional development. Specifically, movement in terms of gross motor skills, is the foundation to fine motor skills such as using scissors or holding a pencil! You may not realise it, but plenty of a child’s daily activities involve using their fine motor skills. These day-to-day tasks include getting dressed, using a pencil, or even opening a lunchbox.
In this digital age, there has also been a shift from traditional games to online games for children. Without old-school games like hopscotch or playing catching, your child stands to lose out on developmental skills that include fine motor skills, spatial awareness and coordination. So, even as your family is staying safe indoors, be sure to include the following home activities to keep both their minds and bodies stimulated!
Home activities to keep them moving and learning
1. Jump, hop, skip
If you have a young toddler, start by introducing simple jumping exercises to let them experiment with movement! For safety reasons, be sure to teach them how to jump correctly and safely. Start by asking your child to practise bending their knees and lift their arms to prepare for a jump. When they’re ready, let them have a go at pushing off their feet from the ground to jump as high as they can, and finally, land softly with bended knees.
When your child masters the art of jumping, you can move on to more complex exercises. You can teach them how to hop on one leg, skip through a hula hoop and perhaps even play a game of jump rope! Jumping is the foundation of the other exercises, so everything else would be easier.
2. Act out nursery rhymes
Nursery rhymes can also be a fun way to get your child’s motor skills running. For younger toddlers, you can introduce movement by asking them to move or dance as they recite the rhymes in a song-like manner. Meanwhile, for older children who already have a grasp on motor skills, let them think of creative actions to nursery rhymes like ‘The Wheels On The Bus’ or ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.
By acting out nursery rhymes, you easily create a fun and interactive learning experience with your child. The benefits are also doubled: this activity hones both their gross motor skills (by making large movements) and fine motor skills (by making them use their fingers for actions or hold props).
3. Friendly tug-of-war
With the need to tap onto brain juices for strategies and arms for physical strength, this traditional game of tug-of-war offers that rich motor skills development! If you can’t find an actual rope, search for households that can substitute. For instance, string up pieces of old clothing to make a long chain or ‘rope’. Simply split the family into two teams and let the friendly match begin – it’s sure to touch on stability, flexibility and upper body strength.
4. Get into (animal) character
Finally, this last activity is one that also encourages some imagination. Play a friendly game of ‘what animal are you?’ with your young ones! You and your child can take turns to imitate movements of animals such as hopping like a kangaroo, leaping like a monkey or crawling sideways like a crab. This game would train their stability and core muscles with tons of fun included!
A child’s growth is not just about hitting developmental milestones – you’d want to provide them with sufficient opportunities to be confident in moving their bodies! At international schools in Singapore, the teachers say let play drive a child’s learning, as it stimulates their minds and gets them occupied with their discoveries.