Hop! Skip! Jump! Run! These are terms children hear everyday in their physical education (PE) classes. The importance of getting kids moving has become a national campaign headed by Michelle Obama. However, why wait until they are in elementary school to take advantage of intentionally guiding their physical development? That's right parents you can do more to facilitate your child's gross motor skills before they head off to school. In addition, it will be more than the usual common actions that they do naturally. Here are some activities to specifically work on strengthening your child's upper and lower extremities.
1. Play those old school group games. Remember Red Light Green Light? Red Rover? Mother May I? These group games aren't only about exercising their large muscles but also about starting and stopping an action on signal. For young children learning about their body and how it moves in space will help with increased equilibrium [balance] skills.
2. Now if your child loves to ride their bike or scooter, why not challenge them a little further. Place a few cones ( or blocks, whatever you got!) a few paces apart. Then instruct your child to ride (or run) in between the cones in a figure eight pattern. This helps children learn to navigate their way around obstacles. It also promotes coordination and balance.
3. Do some yoga moves! Yoga is becoming quite popular among children; especially children athletes. Yoga is good for adults because it increases our flexibility, muscle strength and toning, as well as promotes good breathing techniques. What's not to teach young ones? Although young children are typically already quite flexible, with yoga they can build attending skills, controlled breathing and calming methods. For children who are extremely active, those skills can be beneficial for enhancing their focus on tasks.
4. If you have hula hoops, not only can you challenge your child to a hula hoop contest but also have them jump in and out of them. As they master that, place the hula hoops a few distances apart. Your child will need to definitely use controlled leg muscle movement to jump over a section of space.
5. Lastly, just have fun with it. Be creative. Keep them interested and engaged and they won't even know they are working.