There's a reason young children have boundless energy and are wired to move. Science shows that for a child's brain to fully mature, it needs stimulation through movement and sensory experiences. Each stage of development comes with new opportunities for learning. For example, an infant might explore by touching, grasping, chewing, or crawling. A toddler might explore by walking or climbing.
Physical activity and curiosity don't simply build a strong body; they build a strong brain!
This is why one of the 5 Basics is “Explore Through Movement and Play.”
It’s easy to think of movement and play ideas when the weather is just right for playground fun and outdoor activities. But it’s the middle of summer...and that means it’s really hot outside for many of us! It's tempting to let TV and iPads rule the day, but there are simple ways you can support movement and play for your young child, even during the summer months:
1. Have a dance party. Turn on your favorite tunes and dance around the living room! Children love to move to music (and you may be surprised at how much fun you have when you join them.)
2. Cool off with water play. You don’t need a pool or water park to have a blast with water!
Children love simple activities like running through the sprinkler and having fun with containers of water. Another favorite activity is giving kids a big paintbrush and letting them “paint” letters, shapes, and designs on the sidewalk or driveway with water. Click here to see this idea in action!
An inexpensive sprinkler is another way little ones can run and play without getting too hot!
3. Walk across a balance beam. You can make one by using painter’s tape if you’re indoors. Working on balance builds a healthy body and brain during the little years.
4. Jumping Jacks and windmills. Counting while your child jumps also helps with math skills.
5. Play pretend or charades. Have your child waddle like a duck, fly like an airplane, and hop like a rabbit. Or you can let your child pretend to be something, and you get to guess.
6. Tummy time for babies. Babies need tummy time every day. When they lift their head to look around, they strengthen the upper body and prepare muscles to crawl. They also get a new view of their surroundings.
7. Make (or have your child make) a simple obstacle course outside or inside with materials you already have. They can hop, crawl, climb, skip, or tiptoe their way through a course filled with cardboard boxes, pillows, containers, and other regular items you may have at home.
8. Everyday movement matters! When your child helps you carry in groceries, when you take the stairs instead of the elevator, when you swim at the pool or walk to the store, know that these daily activities are helping to build a healthy brain and body.
9. Switch up your outdoor play time.
While you may prefer to go to the park during the day so your kids can burn off energy, consider going in the evening or first thing in the morning so that they can still enjoy playground time.
10. Make art. Drawing, even if it's just scribbling with crayons on scrap paper, is a good way for little hands to build strong muscles and for little minds to develop creativity. Summertime is a great time to make a simple art station in your home.
What are some of your favorite ways to make Basic #4, “Explore Through Movement & Play” part of your summer routine?
80% of a child’s brain development happens in the first 3 years of life. Let's seize the opportunity! The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!
Best of all, you can make the Basics part of your everyday family routines (like the mealtime examples above.)
Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:
- Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are making "Explore Through Movement & Play" part of everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
- Why Your Young Child's Brain Needs Movement & Play + 7 Simple Ideas
- Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
- Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
- If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! email@example.com.
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