Giving Children an Active Start
Leah Yardley BSc. Kin., CSEP-CEP
University of Calgary, Be Fit For Life Centre
Developing physical literacy is an essential part of healthy child development. Children who are exposed to a multitude of movement experiences in a variety of environments are more confident and competent movers, thus giving them a greater chance of remaining active throughout their lifespan. The first five years of a child’s life are the most important in terms of development as the brain is busy growing and creating neural connections with each new experience. The more a child moves their body in different ways, the more connections that are created and the more that child explores those movements, the stronger those connections become building a strong foundation for future learning and development.
You can help a child develop physical literacy as early as infancy. Tummy time is a great place to start and as a child grows and develops, making sure the home or care environment is safely set up for exploration of movement (different levels to pull up on, crawl under and over, etc.) combined with lots of positive interaction and encouragement will support an active start for the child. As children grow through their toddler and preschool years, it is important to continue to offer many opportunities for movement exploration and outdoor play year round. Free play (meaning unstructured without adult direction) is a very important part of healthy development for children in the early years. Not only does it foster the development of physical literacy, it also helps develop social, emotional and cognitive skills, imagination and creativity. So don’t worry if feel your child is not participating in enough programs before the age of 5 – although some programs can be great, the best thing you can do is simply let them PLAY!
Looking for fun things to do as a family outdoors?
Visit http://bfflcalgary.com/event/myactivefamily/ and take part in the #myactivefamilychallenge!
Submitted by Kayla Hammel, Dip Exs Sci, CSEP – Certified Personal Trainer