Focus on physical fun
Daily physical activity is essential to our child’s development and important for children of all ages. Exploring physical activities with your child and understanding just how their bodies are developing:
- Ensures they remain healthy
- Is a wonderful way to spend time with your child
- Strengthens the bond you share.
Research shows clear links between childhood patterns of physical activity and adult exercise habits. Parents are the most important role model for their children. By prioritising sport and physical activities in your family you are providing your child with a strong foundation for a lifetime of health.
Keep them safe
Parents of children between the ages of 7-9 will notice that their child’s physical development has taken off in leaps and bounds. Children of this age have generally good coordination and improved muscle strength. This increased coordination and balance can be exciting for children encouraging them to test the limits of their bodies.
This new risk-taking is developmental but contributes to the increased number of accidents in this age group. Remember to check that the play area is safe and play equipment is suitable for your child.
Enter a make believe world
The imagination of a child aged 7 runs wild and you can use this to encourage more physical activity. Your child may be a galloping pony, a slithering snake, a hopping bunny or a leaping super hero as they jump, run, pivot and crouch.
This child-led activity is just as important as structured adult-led physical activities such as team sports. Children will love to share their imaginary play with you. Encourage them to imagine a variety of situations which require different movements such as exploring a rainforest, swimming under the ocean, skating on ice, crawling through caves and leaping over rivers.
Get physical together
Riding bikes, scooters, skateboards, rollerblades and jumping with ropes is increasingly popular with children of this age.
Jump on board with their enthusiasm and join them in their activities.
- Ride bikes together after school or on weekend
- Dance together to their favourite music
- Show them the movements to some classic dances like the Nutbush and Grapevine.
Children of this age are able to combine loco motor and non-loco motor movements to form coordinated routines, such as those in line dancing (skip, skip, spin – slide, slide, spin) and will love watching mum and dad try to follow their dance routines.
Make physical activity routine
Life with a child can feel hectic but as parents we need to aim for our children to have regular opportunities to participate in physical activities.
The schedule of a young child can quickly become filled with extra-curricular activities which can lead young children feeling exhausted.
Incorporating physical activity need not be another stress or ‘to do’ item on the family list. Keep it simple with a walk together after dinner to talk about the day or walking the family dog. Teach your child how to throw a Frisbee, fly a kite together or shoot hoops at a basketball court.
Girls of this age are particularly keen to play Hopscotch or Elastics and all kids enjoy playing hide and seek at the local park.
Support skill development through games
Children at this age are enthusiastic about playing team games and may be old enough to try out for school representative sport teams. Use this enthusiasm to develop their skills through game playing which will help them in a team sport.
Your child’s aerobic fitness can be improved by running games such as Stuck in the Mud, Red Light – Green Light. Playing on the ‘monkey bars’ or playground equipment helps build muscles as does having a fierce game of Tug of War.
Lifting weights like mum or dad or using gym equipment is not suitable for children of this age.
Keep the focus on fun
There are soccer boots, ballet shoes, swimming goggles, shin pads, t-ball bats and tennis racquets in the houses of many parents of 7-9 year old children. This is because children of this age begin to develop a strong competitive edge.
Their skill development is continually being refined and many children are participating in school or weekend sport teams. Children are like adults in that they will remain doing a sport as long as they enjoy it.
Offer opportunities for your child to try different sports each season if they lose enthusiasm, until they find the perfect match for them. Alternatively allow them a break from organised sports and participate in family activities with your child instead.
Remember to praise their efforts and remind children that it is not about winning or losing, it is about having fun and keeping their bodies fit and healthy. Enjoy discovering the wonder of your child!
This article was written by Michelle Barrington for Kidspot from sources including www.healthychildren.org, www.education.com and www.kidshealth.org. Michelle blogs at GeeYou’reBrave.blogspot.com