Daily exercise helps to develop strong muscles and bones and it promotes fitness, heart health and healthy weight management. Therefore, as purposeful parents, we know we can help lay a firm foundation for our children’s future health by promoting an active lifestyle. However, in the lives of young children, physical activity is also valuable for other reasons.
In fact, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education in the USA believes it is important enough for them to recommend that 3 to 5-year-olds should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping. They also say children of this age need at least 60 minutes of structured physical activity each day, plus 60 minutes – and up to several hours – of unstructured physical activity per day.
Understandably, questions arise such as: “Why so much time per day? Isn’t physical education extra-curricular and optional? How does physical education and free play support the development of school readiness? Wouldn’t two hours a day be better spent watching educational television or doing work sheets?”
The answer lies in the fact that movement experiences provide the key to learning important developmental lessons that young children cannot learn in any other way.
As they move around, their eyes, ears, skin, and muscles faithfully send information to their developing brains. Over time, this guides them to make important discoveries and their brains learn to process the various types of incoming information that they receive from different sensory organs with increasing speed and proficiency.
As an example, children need movement experiences to discover where different body parts are, what they can do with these parts and which physical sensations can be associated with different body movements. Physical therapists refer to this as the development of “body awareness”. These discoveries then lead to a growing awareness of the two halves of the body, children practice coordinating the two sides of their bodies, and the two halves of their brains gradually specialise for them to develop a dominant hand, eye and foot.
In the same manner, repeated movement experiences also guide young children to develop spatial, temporal and directional awareness as they discover how much space their bodies occupy when they move in different ways, manoeuvre around within the space that is available to them, physically take on different shapes as they assume different body positions, move rhythmically to imitate movement patterns and sequences, and practice integrating the movements of the limbs on the left and right sides of their bodies.
Then, after discovering the basics of spatial, temporal, and directional awareness, the natural next step is to experiment with the idea that objects outside of one’s body can also be organised in different positions, directions, sequences and patterns.
In short, early movement experiences are essential for laying foundations for developing many school-readiness skills, including important perceptual skills. By the time they reach school-going age, children need these perceptual skills to enable them to work with letters and numbers in different positions, directions, sequences, and patterns as they learn to read, write, and do math.
Children need daily movement experiences to make these discoveries because physical lessons are learnt on a deep, unconscious level, through repeated practice – just as one would learn to perfect a golf swing.
Similarly, providing optimal nutrition daily also plays a key role in laying a strong foundation for physical development and optimising brain development.
A healthy eating pattern for your child should include high quality protein for building strong muscles, in adequate amounts across all meals throughout the day. A preschool child’s daily protein needs vary depending on, body size, growth rate, appetite and activity level. As a rule of thumb, a growing child should have 2–3 servings of protein a day.
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This premium drink contains Bifodobacterium lactis, (a naturally active culture to support a healthy digestive system), OMEGA SMART: A special fat-blend, containing Omega 3 and 6 and DHA that supports long-term immune, brain and vision development and HMO (to support the immune and digestive systems).
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IMPORTANT NOTICE. NESTLÉ® NANKID® 4 is not a breastmilk substitute and is formulated to meet the changing nutrition needs of healthy children older than 3 years.
Did you know?
- Structured physical activities are generally planned and led by an adult who initiates a task, game, or activity for children to learn a new skill.
- Unstructured physical activities are activities that children start by themselves. Examples include riding scooters or bikes, playing tag or playing on a jungle-gym.