Fitness for little kids
By Steve Brossman

Coordination + activity = confident, healthier, smarter kids

As you get your child ready for school you may go through a checklist: lunch, water bottle, clean hanky, motor skills - oops I knew I forgot something. A recent study conducted for the NSW Dept of health showed that 4 out of 5, year 2 children, could not run, throw, catch or kick a ball properly.

Habits are formed early in life. We don't wait until children are at school to teach them to brush their teeth, bathe or eat the right foods. So why should children wait till then to learn about physical activity? There's evidence to show that even among children as young as 3 and 4, those who are less active tend to stay less active later in childhood than the rest of their peers. And individuals who are less active in childhood remain less active as adults.

It's never to early to start learning

Early childhood is the best period for the acquisition of fundamental movement skills. Contrary to common belief, motor skills are not acquired and refined without instruction and practice. Not even basic body management skills.

With an increasing number of children now in child care and day care, too often, parents are assured by well intentioned childcare staff that movement is very much a part of the program. This could mean that the children go out to play once or twice a day. Maybe they put on some music and encourage the children to dance for a few minutes. Or they might even set up an obstacle course once a week and give the children some time to explore it.

However, these activities alone don't begin to meet children's fitness and motor development needs. Without planned instruction and directed practice opportunities, movement and motor skill development is being left to chance and could be one of the reasons why 80% of lower primary students have below acceptable motor skills.

Another reason is that we are now entering the 3rd or 4th generation of "growing up with television". This has lead to the 2nd generation of parents who themselves did not have parents who played games with them that developed fundamental co-ordination and skills.

Because of this, I have even been often asked to conduct workshops to teach parents basic games to play with their children. With life becoming even more hectic and parents more busy I have designed an easy to follow, at home accelerated program that parents can use with their children 10-15 minutes per day for great results (and great FUN!).

Why is movement so important?

Movement is one of the most important aspects of a young child's life with direct links to their confidence and self esteem.
Improving co-ordination and motor skills impacts on a child's physical, social and learning abilities.

PHYSICAL

Childhood obesity is the biggest threat to the health of the children of today. Children with poor coordination and motor skills are more likely to

  • be less active
  • have a greater risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes
  • have a greater risk of developing behavioural problems

SOCIAL

Without the skills or confidence to join in playground games the students are often excluded from friendship groups and may sit alone or over eat. This often leads to them not developing appropriate social skills. Developing coordination and motor skills leads to an increase in confidence and self esteem.

LEARNING

Movement is an indispensable part of learning and thinking and an integral part of all mental processing. There have been countless studies that have concluded that "coordinated activities programs"

  • facilitates language development,
  • boosts reading readiness, enhances creativity, improves general academic achievement and
  • fosters a positive attitude towards school or schooling

Developing coordination and motor skills.

4 out of 5 children need to improve their skills yet every child can benefit from increasing co-ordination and skills.
Here are just a few points to help you get started.

  • You can start at any age. Encourage crawling as it is an important co-ordination developmental activity.
  • You can improve at any age. I once taught a 50 year old male to do his first star jump so don't worry if your child is already at school and is lacking some of the skills. They can always catch up!
  • Always start with things they can do. If they can't catch a ball DON'T throw them a ball as this will only discourage them. I use the 6 B's to catch... Bubbles, Balloons, Bean Bags before Balls. Layer new skills on top of current skills.
  • Have Fun! and be Patient!


Life is a set of skills.. to improve a child's skills is to improve their future.

Steve Brossman is motherInc's physical activity advisor and creator of co-ordinated Kids (cK). cK is an at home co-ordination and motor skill program designed for the busy parent who wants to give their children the best possible start. For more information visit www.coordinatedkids.com.au

 
Banner