30 DAYS of AWESOME PARENTING
(read about the adventure here)
Tip 28: Child growth and development:
movement is the key
When it comes to child growth and development, we all want to do the right thing to help them on their way. But when there are so many theories, ideas, new strategies, research papers, foods to eat, foods to avoid, and reports in the newspaper about child growth and development, it can be hard to know the difference between what is right, and what is a load of gobbledegook.
As a mother of a child who was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome many years ago, and as someone with an interest in early childhood development, I have spent years of my life learning about brain development and in recent years, I’ve been absolutely thrilled with the new-ish science of brain plasticity.
One of the things we now know for sure is that movement is absolutely fundamental in creating the proper foundation for successful uptake of learning and therefore, academic success. Movement, in all kinds of directions, and in all sorts of forms and shapes and sizes, is essential for laying down the underground cables that allow messages to cross from one side of the brain to the the other- a process essential for understanding and integration of the key messages. (It is so interesting I’ve dedicated a whole chapter to this in my book.)
We ALL need to know about the absolute importance of providing “opportunities for movement“. I’d almost say we need to embrace this idea as OUR key task of parenting (other than loving our kids and providing safe boundaries). And modern life is why. Many (if not most) children have access to screens of all shapes and sizes, and watching or playing on screens means children are sedentary for hours each day. Some more than others of course.
But if you add up all the hours where the average child sits to watch their favourite shows, play a few games on the ipad, look at mum’s iphone, challenge siblings or friends on the nintendo, or watch a dvd, it can be quite confronting to see what proportion of their waking hours is spent disengaged with the natural world, and most importantly, inactive. We simply need to bring back a balance. Making sure they engage in movement fun a minimum of two or three days a week, for an hour or so each time.
And all kinds of movement works. Moving when you play sports or attend team practice, free time at the park and the playground, throwing a ball with uncle, obstacle courses and playing in the ocean, swimming lessons and pool games, riding bikes in the street, climbing trees, running on the grass, scaling ladders, flying on a trapeze, or playing rough and tumble games- all these things (and more) are essential. We just need to make sure our kids are able to have a go at things- regularly, and for sustained periods. Then we can tick off another box on our Awesome list.
How do you provide opportunities for movement? Write your list. If there are more than 10 things on your list, AWESOME! If not, what else could you do with your kids? Playground visits at least twice a week are my preferred choice- there are so many movements that children make here while simply having fun. Climbing, walking across uneven or moving surfaces, sliding down slides, crawling through things, swinging back and forth… (and that’s not even reflecting upon the imaginative games, the forming of social skills or the oral language development that is occurring too.)
Look at your list of 10 (or more). Today, can you to open the way for your children to engage in at least TWO of these activities before sundown? (My tip: a visit to the playground may knock a few off your list in one go!)
Commit to the task by writing it down here in the comments below or in your 30 days of AWESOME journal.
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