Many of us are trying to combat the perils of a society where childhood obesity and inactivity are rampant. As parents, teachers or coaches, the role you play in assisting to empower children for life is vital.
Canadian Living is going to continue to provide you with ideas so that you can build a toolbox full of great exercise ideas for your family, as well as brief you on the safeties in athletic development during different stages of maturation.
When we were children, staying out all day, walking creek beds, playing at the park for hours and creating many places of adventure was the norm. In those times creativity, imagination, and thrill seeking enhanced our abilities in balance, agility, read and react skills, co-ordination and core strength. The children of today fight for more time on the computer, video games and television. As parents, we must be part of the activity action and instill lifelong fitness skills and fun.
The following advice and information was provided by Dr. Gregory S. Anderson, PhD Chair, Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University College of the Fraser Valley:
"Increasing a child's movement repertoire requires the planned, purposeful repetition of quality movements. Children should be exposed to a variety of fun, innovative movement challenges that will stress their motor capabilities.
"Children today are less active, more obese, and lack fundamental movement skills. Teaching children how to move efficiently and improving their movement repertoire will help increase their self-efficacy and self-esteem, making them more confident and comfortable joining new activities.
"Children are not miniature adults, and the development of children in sports must recognize this. Too often children's programs are modelled after those designed for adults, or even professional athletes.
Young children should be exposed to a wide breadth of fun activities, emphasizing development of a variety of fundamental skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics (1989), in their position statement on organized athletics for pre-adolescent children, clearly states that the pre-adolescent years should be seen as a 'time for teaching fundamental motor skills; developing fitness in a practical, safe and gradual manner and promoting desired attitudes and values.'"
• If they cannot jump up onto it, they should avoid jumping off of it.
• If you can't stop them from jumping off -- ensure a soft, padded landing.
• Avoid too many foot plants each day -- skipping rope and hopscotch should be interspersed with balance games, tag, etc.
• Encourage multi-sports -- specificity at an early age will hinder their athletic abilities.
There are many publications that I will reference throughout this series of family fitness articles. These books are all scrutinized by a very credible company called Human Kinetics publishers. There are strict criteria to be met in their publishing guidelines, which ensure you are getting a solid foundation of enjoyable skills to share with your family or classroom.
In the book Mix, Match and Motivate by Jeff Carmen, the author encourages parents to identify motivators for children. Sometimes, it's letting them take the lead and having choices, other times it's haveing them follow a game plan.
Let's get you going with a mix and match station game. Depending on whether you're outside or inside, choose different areas to perform various activities. I will give you a list of different activities to choose. You can also open this up to imagination and let each child have a turn choosing an activity. Depending on the child's age, the station can last from 1 to 5 minutes.
1. Jumping jacks
2. Crab kicks
3. Jog in place
4. Mountain climbers
6. Curl ups
7. Push ups
8. Animal walks
9. Ski jump (feet together jump side to side)