Make movement a priority
Today’s task is to make movement a priority for your preschooler.
From a Waldorf perspective, the primary task of the young child under seven is to fully come into the body. An early childhood full of lots and lots of movement not only sets the stage for a healthy body but also for a healthy brain. There are so many connections between movement and establishing sensory integration, which is critical for learning.
I read once about a study which involved having professional basketball players pair up with preschoolers for a day. The adult athletes were asked to mimic all the movements of the young children - and by the end of the day they reported that they were exhausted. I decided to try this a couple weeks ago when I was at the park with my four-year-old Sierra. She wanted to play “boat” on the playground structure and I followed around doing everything she did….and it only took about 5 minutes to realize that yes, she is really in constant motion and I would get worn out trying to keep up! It was hilarious.
Young children have a natural impulse to move. So as a parent you don’t need to do much to make movement a priority - just encourage activities that involve movement, let your child play, and spend plenty of time outside.
Extremely valuable movement activities for young children:
- Skipping (older preschoolers)
- Dancing (with abandon, not instruction!)
- Children’s yoga
- Movements imitating animals (crawl, hop, scurry, scoot, crabwalk, inch….)
- Hopping and jumping (on the ground, trampoline, hop-on ball, off of a tree stump)
- Any kind of balance challenge (balance beam, standing or hopping on one foot)
- Spinning (yes and falling down)
- Swinging (older preschoolers learning to pump legs)
- Anything that strengthens the core or posture (rolling on small exercise ball, playing “airplane”)
- Playing with a ball (rolling, bouncing, tossing, catching, kicking)
- Climbing (trees, playground)
- Rolling down hills
- Simple circle games (like ring-around-the-rosie)
- Any of the rhythmic movements mentioned in this post
- Play in the woods (scrambling over rocks, walking along a shallow stream bed or a fallen tree)
- Fingerplays and gestures set to songs or poetry
- Riding a scooter, tricycle, balance bike, and bicycle
- Digging (sand play) and working in the garden (weeding, planting, watering)
- Pushing, pulling, and lifting heavy things (not too heavy!) (child-size wheelbarrow or wagon, moving child-size furniture, big wood blocks or planks for playtime)
How to make movement a priority:
1. Be sure to spend plenty of time outside and let your child’s day be filled with play! Traditional child’s play, rhythmic work in the home, and your child’s natural impulse to move together make up a perfect “movement curriculum” for preschool.
2. If you are looking for more resources on movement and especially if you have any concerns about your child related to movement, sensory integration, and learning in the early years check these out: The Well-Balanced Child. Joyful Movement. Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures.
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The most important way to learn something new is to do it and the second most important way is to share your insights and ask questions. Please share with us in the comments below!
How do you make movement a priority for your preschool child?