With physical distancing measures in place, most of us are living under conditions we never imagined. The benefits of physical activity are indisputable and coming up with ways to keep kids active under current circumstances presents a unique challenge for parents.
Getting active doesn’t have to be structured or organised, sometimes it’s just a matter of turning on some music and having a spontaneous dance, there are also plenty of YouTube Channels providing movement breaks that vary in length and intensity such as Cosmic Kids Yoga, GoNoodle and PE With Joe Wicks. There are also plenty of local, Inner West businesses, who have had to work very had to transform their coaching and tuition and online. Check out the Children’s Activities category in the Inner West Mums’ directory for inspiration so you can support these amazing businesses.
If you’re looking for something low tech, obstacle courses are one of the most versatile activities out there. They can be as easy or as hard as you want and you can also get the kids to plan out (and even draw) what they’re going to use, the route they’re going to take and challenge them to use items in different ways if they get stuck in doing the same thing over and over. They can also be done inside or outside, depending on the space you have available and the weather.
Obstacle courses can be done without any kind of equipment. You can use mattresses as landing pads or for jumping, throw a sheet over the dining table and it becomes a tunnel to crawl through, walking or crawling over pillows or cushions creates an uneven surface that is going to get core muscles working harder. If you want to invest in some small pieces of equipment, Kmart has some great options like the balance board, balance cushion and gym balls in various sizes.
If you have limited space, creating a course using masking tape or painter’s tape is a great option. You can create “stations” where kids balance, walk along a line, do star jumps, hop or walk like different animals from one point to another – some popular options are bear walks, frog/bunny hops, crab walks, caterpillar walks, dinosaur stomps or sliding like a snake.
The benefits of doing an activity like this aren’t just about “getting active”. Whole body movements like crawling, star jumps and animal walks promote core stability, improving balance and bilateral integration – the coordination of the left and right side of the body. Playing “balloon tennis” improves motor planning and hand-eye coordination. Muscle based movement also improves regulation, helping manage big emotions and improving attention to academic tasks.
The most important thing to remember, of course, is to have fun!
Guest Author: Julia Hay, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist