Physical activity is a crucial component to healthy growth and development in children. Engaging in healthy movement not only helps children develop physically, but it also assists in the development of social, emotional and mental skills. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that preschool children (aged 3–5 years) should be active throughout the day, with a target of 3 hours per day of light, moderate and vigorous physical activity.
Before the pandemic, meeting this requirement was relatively easy; a trip to the park, recess, a playdate, P.E., or a birthday party. Physical activity happened naturally and frequently. Now that we are faced with remote learning, social distancing, and fewer options for community activities, finding ways to get those precious physical hours in has become more of a daunting task.
Don’t feel discouraged if your child isn’t reaching that 3-hour goal right now. Instead, you can make smaller steps to integrate movement into your child’s daily life and create healthy habits for the future! The activities listed below can be done indoors or in smaller areas, can easily fit into busy schedules and can be utilized as breaks during remote learning.
Use online tools: There are a number of free websites and videos specifically designed to get your kids moving, learning and growing! Here are some great examples:
Move to Learn– Children learn best when they take short physical breaks throughout their school day. These videos were designed to “double classroom focus” and will come in handy when you notice your child losing focus during remote learning/homeschooling or simply needing to get their wiggles out!
GoNoodle– Teachers have been incorporating these videos into lesson plans during remote learning. These videos are high paced, energetic, and educational – everything from yoga, to math problems, to hip hop dances. You can download the app for free or visit their website. (If you choose to join your children, get ready for a serious work out!)
Smile & Learn: This YouTube channel features Yoga videos for children and is available in many different languages. The videos feature kid friendly instructions and animations that will help keep your child engaged. Yoga is a great exercise for balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength. Along with physical benefits, Yoga will teach your child breathing techniques, centering movements, and self-regulation skills.
Koo Koo Kanga Roo– Put on your gold sneakers and join Bryan and Neil for a dance party. These free dance-along videos are fun, catchy and are sure to get your kiddo moving!
If you child isn’t into dancing or silly workouts here are some more traditional workout videos they might enjoy:
Home Exercises for Kids Simple exercises to improve cardiovascular fitness.
Let’s Get Moving Fun easy to follow workout video to do with your children.
Indoor Games: Below are games you can play indoors along with some examples of the physical and mental benefits they provide your children. Integrating these games throughout the day will be fun, get your kids moving, help develop their gross motor skills, and can provide a mental break from school work. Most of these games can be enjoyed by children of all ages and can be adapted to fit various physical intensity levels.
Hide and Seek– This game works on physical health (running and hiding), gross motor skills (climbing, reaching, crouching, jumping), working memory and organization (remembering where they have searched and where to look next) and teaching children the social skill of playing by the rules- no peeking!
Lines of Tape– You can create so many fun games just using tape! For example, place six lines of tape on your floor and have your child stretch, jump, crawl, slide and hop to each line. Make a tape “balance beam” and have your children walk heel to toe, backwards or with their eyes closed! You can even make your own Indoor Hopscotch. These activities target balance, strength, endurance and counting!
Don’t let the balloon touch the floor– Along with jumping, reaching, diving, hitting and catching children can practice coordination, working as a team and counting skills (each time someone hits the balloon). A balloon most likely won’t knock over a TV, but a body might! Make sure you have plenty of space for this game, so everyone can enjoy it safely!
Indoor Basketball- Using rolled up socks as a basketball have your children throw the socks into some sort of homemade basket or bucket. If they make it, they take a step back and try again until they miss. This will help with hand eye coordination and handling disappointment if they aren’t always able to make it.
Blowing Bubbles- Along with having a lot of fun chasing, jumping and reaching for bubbles children are also developing their coordination and spatial awareness. If you’re not a fan of blowing bubbles, Bubble Machines are an inexpensive solution. Turn it on, sit back and watch your children marvel at the amount of bubbles it produces! (This is definitely a favorite in our household and provides hours of fun!)
Play some games, put on a video, (join your kids during that hip hop routine, ha!) and remember that the fun you are having together at home is contributing to your child’s growth and development!
Text: © Kids In Transition to School 2021
Image: © Bakharev | Dreamstime.com