Hi, I'm Rachel.

I work with parents and teachers of children aged 0-14 around New Zealand.

BLOG: Take it outside

BLOG: Take it outside

When I was a young child, (and I do not consider myself to be THAT old!) the world was a very different place. Our childhood was filled with action packed activities such as playing in the park, climbing and sliding, planting gardens – it was life in an active and calm environment. When I contrast this with many children today, I feel they have lost much of that relaxed air. They grow up in a world where they are often required to start formal education early just to make sure they are one step ahead and get ready for school.

However, this has had an unfortunate result. Many children today have become cottonwool kids, able to read and write from a young age but not able to feel confident about their bodies. While they may be able to communicate through the written word, they are unable to climb, run, hop and jump. All these skills are essential for our children, and if not learned at an early age can have long term effects on our children’s academic and professional performance throughout their life.

Why is this physical activity so important to our children? Many of the early movements our children make involves the use of cross body movements. These aid your child to develop connections between the left and right brains. It also helps them to develop body awareness.
Children who are confident with their bodies and how they can move are more likely to feel positive about themselves. This also will affect their response to learning, as self-confident children are more likely to be more motivated and persistent.

Children with well-developed motor skills are also more likely to understand positional language such as over and under, beside and between, up and down. This language is required when learning how to form letters, read, work with numbers and much more.

Children who are encouraged to move and engage in active play do not fall behind their peers once they hit school. While there is an initial advantage with children who have had a large amount of formal education, children who have had a wide exposure to physical rather than formal learning skills rapidly catch up and often pass these children. They also have the added advantage of tending to be more healthy and able to concentrate for longer periods due to their fitness levels.

It is part of our natural desire to provide the best for our children. Programmes that teach these skills are good but will always pale in comparison to the real thing. If you want your child to have good body confidence and awareness, the best thing to do is to take them to a park and interact with them in the space provided. Add numeracy skills by counting steps, or literacy skills by rhyming objects found n the park. Let your child become a little more adventurous and feel comfortable about no longer wrapping them in cottonwool.
 
If you would like to try some active play with your child, try a balance of the following:
Hopping
Skipping
Side step
Riding a Bike
Throwing a ball
Catching a ball
Rolling a ball
Bouncing a ball
Moving on uneven surfaces
Going up and down hills

Follow my Instagram, @getoutsidenz, to celebrate taking it outside.

Image by 123RF.COM

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