Dec. 24, 2020
Looking back over my 13 years at Hatch Early Learning, I have witnessed a remarkable evolution. I recall the
Running! Climbing! Jumping! These are important elements for optimal growth and development in young children. Not only are children strengthening bones and muscles, but they are also building their brains! Young children need time for active, full body play every day.
Active play allows children to use what are known as gross motor and gross motor manipulative skills. Gross motor skills are movements that require your whole body, such as walking, running, crawling, jumping, etc. Gross motor manipulative skills include things like throwing, catching, kicking, rolling, and dribbling. Big body movements develop large muscle groups of the body, after which children start developing control over smaller muscle groups. This leads to the development of fine motor skills, such as using a spoon, buttoning a button, or writing with a pencil.
Children under the age of six should be physically active for at least a short period during every hour that they're awake. Here are targets for duration of active play, by age group.
In addition, whenever possible, move active play outdoors no matter the weather; put on sunscreen, bundle up, or throw on some raingear, because outdoor light stimulates the pineal gland, the part of the brain that is vital to keeping our immune systems strong. Spending time outdoors is also associated with improving mood and happiness. As a bonus, children who identify with nature are more likely to become adults who appreciate nature and want to protect the environment.
Ideas for Active Learning
Active play can happen anywhere and doesn’t necessarily require any specialized materials. Check out the ideas below for things you can do inside and outside with your child to engage them in active play!
Infants experience rapid physical development within the first year of life. From learning to hold up their head to crawling to walking, a lot is happening with their bodies.
As new travelers, toddlers are often still finding their sea legs! They may waddle, squat, bounce, or take little hops as they experiment with balancing. As they get more comfortable with balancing and how to bend their knees to help with walking and running, they are on the move!
Preschool-aged children (up to 5-years-old) learn best when there is no official “teaching” of skills because, cognitively, they struggle with the concept of rules in that sense. In addition, it is not essential that younger children throw a ball with the “correct” arm and body movements. Instead, it is important that they are confident about throwing and rolling balls in a variety of ways and distances. As you engage your child in active play, focus on building interest in active and physical play rather than on “technical” skills. Following are some fun ways to do that.
What is a cloud? Why do boats float? How does a car work? Young children have an innate ability to ask