By Jane Kilkenny
Humans are designed to move and it’s starts before we are even born into this world. Those first flutters that a woman feels when she is pregnant confirm the very existence of that growing baby.
From birth our growth and development are closely linked to movement milestones that help track the progress of our bodies, brains, senses and emotions. Movement also provides a very effective way to soothe a distressed baby, gentle rocking motion is very calming and therapeutic.
Fast forward to when a child learns to crawl, the sheer satisfaction of being able to explore their world is another key milestone. Then they progress to walking and a whole new world of experiences opens up to them!
Movement and active play are incredibly important for development. Physically it allows the growth of our bones and muscles as movement provides the stimulation for their development. Brain function, neural, cognitive and cardiovascular development are also influenced by activity. Those early developmental years are crucial.
Learning to run, jump, skip, hop, throw and catch are all crucial elements that kids should learn from an early age. Physical literacy develops confidence and coordination. Active play, both indoors and out, should be encouraged and can help establish a lifelong commitment to health.
Parents play a key role in establishing and facilitating these patterns because children will always learn by observation. An active parent is more likely to have an active child. This is also important in the development of nutritional patterns. Kids need to be exposed to a wide variety of healthy foods.
Getting kids involved in sport is also a great way to facilitate their physical, emotional and social development. Kids can learn a great deal from playing sports, particularly skill development through practice, cooperation and winning and losing with dignity.
Some kids are naturally drawn to competitive sports and often want to fast track their progress. However as parents we need to make sure that they maintain a balance and continue to play multiple sports and enjoy social activities throughout their growth and development. Each child has their own genetic model for growth and this should be the key consideration in determining the amount of training during this time.
We need kids to develop a love for physical activity and embrace all its benefits throughout life. Parents have the most influence on the activity levels of their children. Give your child the gift of health by encouraging active play from the very beginning and keep those opportunities available throughout their childhood.
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