What is one of the most important gifts you can give your children? The love of physical play!
According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in Milwaukee, Mequon, Greenfield, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa, “Physical play is important for the healthy growth and development of young children. Through active play, children learn about their bodies, how to operate them, and how to do things around them.
“Parents are the most important role models in their children’s lives. By being active with your children, you can encourage their lifelong enjoyment of physical activity and benefit your own health at the same time.”
So what are some age-appropriate activities that you should you be doing with your children? Below are some great suggestions.
6 Months to 1 Year
Anderson says a fun activity you can do with children who are this age is blow bubbles within the children’s reaching distance while the children are in their high chairs. This will encourage them to reach and grasp.
Some tools that will encourage physical play with children in this age group include: crib gyms, mobiles, floor mirrors, snap-lock beads, balls at least three inches in diameter, push and pull toys, music to encourage movement, and infant swings.
1 Year to 2 Years
As children start to get older, you can enhance active movements to include: clapping, grabbing, squeezing, rolling, arching, stomping, and jumping. Anderson says, “An easy physical activity you can do you with your children is a simple version of follow the leader where you encourage your children to move different body parts ‘Can you clap your hands?’ ‘Touch your toes?’ ‘Wiggle your fingers?’ and ‘Smile with your mouth?’”
Some tools that will encourage physical play with children in this age group include: squeeze toys, plastic bowling sets, bean bags, activity tables, tot tunnels, 4-wheeled ride-ons that children move with their feet, cymbals, drums, xylophones, larger light-weight balls, and toys that children can push such as small doll carriages.
2 Years to 3 Years
As children prepare for preschool, there are a number of physical movements they should be working on. These include: marching, shuffling, running, climbing, sliding, holding, balancing, twisting, exploring, and hiding.
According to Anderson, “Simple activities such as having your children balance on a trail of objects or helping your children jump from low steps or boxes is great for helping with their coordination and confidence.”
In addition to the toys you’ve already been using for previous ages, some items you can utilize for this age group include pull toys with strings, wagons, Hippity Hops, rocking horses, and simple musical instruments.
Once children enter school, they are able to understand rules and participate in games for physical activity. This can include can include baseball, kickball, Dodgeball, basketball, Four Square, hopscotch, and other fun playground activities. These types of physical activities also provide wonderful opportunities for social interaction and the development of social skills such as cooperation and teamwork!
Ebenezer Child Care Centers will be hosting a FREE Family Fun Night on “Physical Play Every Day” on Thursday, May 17th, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at their Downtown Milwaukee Child Care Center located at 340 West St. Paul Avenue. The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Regular physical activity is important for maintaining good health, preventing the development of health risk factors or poor health, and enhancing self-confidence and social skills. Come to this Family Fun Night and learn that a love of physical play is one of the most important gifts you can give your child! Activities will include jumping rope, parachute play, and dancing. In addition to these activities, you will have the opportunity to enjoy dinner on us! Registration is required. Please call 414-643-5070 to register.