Toddlers and preschoolers don’t need much encouragement to move. In fact, most parents find it difficult to get their young children to stop moving. All that movement, however, serves an important purpose. Physical activity helps young children develop the ability to manipulate, control and coordinate the large muscle groups in their legs, arms and trunk.
There are many games and activities you can play with your child over the summer that will help him develop and hone important gross motor skills. (Parents should note that the activities suggested below are provided as a guideline and may not be appropriate for all age children.)
- Walking, running, marching, skipping, hopping and dancing all exercise large muscle groups. While these activities primarily exercise leg and lower trunk muscles, adding swinging, pumping or expressive arm movements will also give upper body and arm muscles a workout. Instead of walking to or from the car or around the block or from one room to another, make a game of skipping or hopping to your destination. Get out the musical instruments (or pots and wood spoons), start marching and have a parade.
- Count steps or recite nursery rhymes or sing songs while you’re moving. Acting out “I’m a Little Teapot” or “The Wheels on the Bus” are good ways to make moving fun.
- Take your child to the swimming pool or fill up the plastic baby pool, add a few pouring and floating toys and let your child enjoy an afternoon of water play in the backyard.