Our children today are simply amazing. They literally come out of the womb educated and truly exceptional. So as educators and parents our focus must change. I have an unusual attitude to Tv and iPad's. I believe that they have a strong place in our children's lives. We really can't fight against technology and need to embrace it so that our children keep up with the times. Let's face it 3-year olds understand concepts like herbivores, the water cycle and bonding numbers, thanks to these new methods of education. It is exciting and mind blowing to tap into these exceptional little brains and to realize just how much information our children's brains can store.
With every positive there is unfortunately a negative. This is where we as parents and educators we must step up and fill in the gaps that may be forming in the overall development of our young children. We are seeing so many young children who are stiff, unable to do basic motor skills, low muscle toned and lack core skills. Why you may ask? Well young children sit for longer periods than we all did. The sit in the traffic, they spend longer periods of time sitting at a desk and naturally in front of the Tv and iPads. Most parents want to know how to best assist their young children in preparing them for more formal schooling. They want to send them to maths lessons, language enrichment classes and perceptual training. But as the song in the sound of music tells us, let's start at the very beginning a very good place to start. Remember young children's first area of development is movement. This is the first thing a baby does even before talking and learning, they start to move. So, it stands to reason that if gaps are forming in this area of their development we will see other difficulties in the learning process and the overall development of our precious children.
So how can parents help?
1. Encourage a healthy lifestyle by setting a good example to your children.
2. Take them for a walk. Make this interesting by finding parks and forests but even a fun walk through the neighbourhood will be beneficial.
3. Find a tree and let your children climb it, there is nothing better for arm and core strength than climbing.
4. Go on family bike rides. Not only will this assist with exercise, but it is an excellent way to teach your children about road safety. Your child is going to go onto the road at 18, so teach them early to respect the rules of the road.
5. When they are watching educational tv shows let them sit on a ball and not lie on the couch.
6. Create a little obstacle course in the lounge or outside in the garden. Use household articles like tins to balance on or create hurdles using a broom and some pots. Let them be involved in creating the course.
7. Buy a little trampoline and let your child bounce in their rooms until they are tired.
Lastly make sure that the extra mural activities that your child is doing includes core muscle development, balance, strength and that it is fun. Enjoyment is critically important as this will help your child develop a love for sport. Why you may ask is this important when they are little.? Well
you want them to be busy teenagers on the sports field and not into parties and clubs. You need to start developing a love for physical activities now to ensure that they participate later.
Sports benefit children in so many ways. It is so important to get children active and to assist them in developing a healthy lifestyle. Our generation of children are going to be at risk of heart disease, sugar diabetes and many lifestyle illnesses if we don't encourage an active regime. We need to ensure that exercise becomes a habit that children will carry over into adulthood.
The benefits of playing sports for young children and adults.
1. Sports create neuro pathways from the brain which enhances cognitive development. Making it easier for young children to learn new information easily.
2. Sports improve children's heart rate and ensures that they remain fit and healthy. Blood flow, muscle development, flexibility and joint movements are wonderful side effects of playing sports.
3. Sports improve children's endurance levels which assists them in being able to concentrate for longer periods of time in the classroom.
4. Participating in sport creates a wonderful opportunity for children to enhance their social skills. This is critically important as social media creates an atmosphere of solitary participation.
5. Eye contact and team participation is an important part of playing sport. These are critical life skills for our children to learn for good emotional development. Many strong friendships are developed on the sports field.
6. Sport creates a wonderful fun environment for weight control and physical wellbeing. As children develop a good self-image they naturally improve their self-confidence.
7. Sport can assist children who are struggling to cross their mid line. Ball sports assist in this regard. This also assists children during reading skills in more formal education.
8. We often hear parents complaining about children who struggle to fall asleep. Youngsters who play sport normally have good sleeping habits.
9. Strong values and discipline are encouraged on the sports field. Many educators and parents are struggling with children's discipline. Coaches and team mates often educate and encourage rules and guidelines and this assists in building discipline that will last well into adulthood.
10. Sport teaches children about failure and how to handle loss. This is essential so that when children reach obstacles, they can handle them in a mature and appropriate way. On the upside they also learn how to win graciously.
11. Playing sport can greatly improve the life of children who suffer from low muscle tone. It is important that these children continuously play sport and don't start and stop their activity levels
12. Our children live in a pressurized world and desperately require a way to relieve their stress. Being on the sports field allows children to break this stress cycle.
In closing, we have exceptional children who are going to be the custodians of our world. We need them to be on top of their game so that they can make good decisions and can create a world for many generations to come. In my opinion this can only be done effectively if they are healthy, happy and well rounded human beings.
Interested? Have a look at Kidi Sportz
Author: Abby Botha, owner and developer of Kidisportz International.