08 Jan Motivate preschoolers to be active
Why do preschoolers need to play?
Preschoolers can be unstoppable – they run, spin, jump, and climb at every opportunity. Your irrepressible desire to move makes this a great time to encourage lasting fitness habits.
Children need to be fit for the same reasons as adults: to improve their health and to make sure their bodies can do what they need them to do. Regular physical exercise helps children develop strong muscles and bones, develops important motor skills, and greatly improves their self-esteem.
How can I keep my preschool child active?
So what should parents and caregivers do? You probably already know what motivates kids this age – to have fun.
To keep physical activity time fun, learn about the most age-appropriate activities for your child and make sure the most important thing is to have fun. For example, a preschooler might grumble if you take him for a walk on an exercise track because he will find it boring. But if you walk through the forest and stop to admire nature and throw stones in a stream, the walk will be much more attractive.
Understanding your child’s skills (and developing them) is another key to keeping it fun. You can have a great time kicking the ball together, but your child probably won’t have as much fun playing a soccer game by all the rules.
Fun away from home
Look for ways to be active outside of your home. In daycare or preschool, do children have access to a playground or a large space to play? The games or equipment don’t need to be fancy. Children enjoy simple games such as catching the ball, playing with plastic balls and bats, dancing and cartwheeling. And they still love to play “Rotten Egg,” “Kingfisher,” or “Sea Viper,” or, “Simon Says.”
Preschoolers are improving some skills, such as jumping, balancing on one foot, throwing and catching balls, pedaling tricycles, and jumping rope or rope. If children learn these basic skills at this age, they will be confident and more likely to continue to be physically active when they grow up. Try to get at least 60 minutes of structured physical activity (guided by an adult) per day.
A little freedom can also motivate preschoolers to be active. While some of your physical activity should be structured and guided by a parent or caregiver, it is also important to let them make the decisions from time to time. Help your preschooler get at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity (free play) a day.
Active free play means that the child chooses the activity and decides what to do; always within a safe and supervised environment. This could include exploring the garden, running in the park, or dressing up.
During pretend or symbolic play (playing someone else), preschoolers often take on a specific gender role because they are beginning to identify with members of the same sex. For example, a girl may pretend to be her mother who “works” in the garden, while a boy will imitate his father “mowing” the lawn.
Parents play an important role
An important message is that your preschooler is watching how you spend your time; So, set a good example by exercising regularly. Your child will see this as something their parents do and will naturally want to do it too.
Other ways to encourage physical activity include the following:
- Limit screen time. Allow up to 1-2 hours of quality programming on a TV, tablet, or another device per day. While many computer programs are advertised as “preschool,” none are necessary for a child’s development. If you decide to allow the use of a computer, carefully choose the software and the sites that your child can visit.
- Keep up the fun. Help your child find activities that he enjoys, and then give him the opportunity to enjoy them. Keep necessary equipment and items close at hand; if possible, within your child’s reach.
- Monitor closely. Preschoolers’ physical abilities (such as climbing to the top of a playground in the park) often exceed their ability to determine what is safe and what is dangerous. Likewise, they don’t realize when it’s time to take a break on a hot day. An important part of helping children have fun outdoors is making sure they are safe; therefore, do not lose sight of your child. And remember to bring a bottle of water, a snack, and sunscreen!
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