Let’s Get Physical: Fun and Fitness
Dr. Valerie Allen
Back in the day, kids ran home from school, grabbed their bikes, and hit the street looking to play with other kids. The excitement of skipping a stone across a puddle, watching a worm inch its way across the sidewalk, and chasing butterflies were part of the big adventures of childhood. Today, it’s hard to find children playing or walking outside. Various factors are involved in this, including safety concerns, planned school, church, and community activities, electronic devices, and time constraints of working parents, to name a few. The importance of physical activity and communing with nature cannot be understated. Here is how some of these activities can be reclaimed in this new age.
Fine motor skills develop eye-hand coordination and is used in tasks such as handwriting, working with hand tools, art, and threading a needle.
- Outdoor activities to enhance these skills include: ball games, Frisbee toss, golf, and tennis.
- Indoor activities include jigsaw puzzles, dot-to-dot, mazes, shuffling and dealing cards, checkers, chess, drawing, painting, jacks, pick-up-sticks, ping-pong, sewing cards, knitting, and arts and craft activities.
- Chores can include help preparing meals by mixing ingredients and cracking eggs. Children can fold the laundry, wash dishes and pots and pans, set the table, clean pet areas, dust furniture, and water the lawn or garden.
Gross motor skills include the use of large muscles which improve balance and build strength.
- Outdoor activities include, swimming, running, walking, bike riding, skating, jump rope, hopping, skipping, hop-scotch, follow the leader, Pogo sticks, Hula-hoops, skate boards, and scooters.
- Indoor activities include using the stairs, stretching, toe touching, marching in place, and bending from the waist.
- Chores also can be incorporated such as washing the car or house windows, sweeping the sidewalk, pulling weeds, and walking and washing the dog, washing the floor, collecting and taking out the trash.
The wonders of nature include an awareness of the beauty and serenity in the natural world. It is important for children to understand the cycle of life in its many forms and the symbiotic relationship of man and the environment.
- Outside activities include a quiet stroll observing natural things in the environment as opposed to man-make objects. Identifying plants and animals. Watching the habits of birds and small game and listening to their vocalizations. Seeing the color, shape, and height of grasses and flowers. Noticing the different smells in various areas. Feeling the change in temperature while in the sun and in shade, and with the change of time.
- Inside activities can include planting a windowsill garden, having a fish tank, having and caring for a pet.
- Chores can include planting, weeding, watering, and mowing grassy areas. Tending to lawns and gardens with fertilizer and insecticides. Safeguarding animals with shelter, building a bird house, and providing food and water.
There are many simple ways of encouraging your child to be fit and have fun whether inside, outside, or with daily chores!
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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She has published two children’s chapter books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends” and a picture book for beginning readers, “The Sun and The Moon.” Oh yes, she has also raised six children!