When you think of how your kids play, do you think about them building with Lego, coloring, or reading books? Or is your perception of play more active, like dancing, playing sports or climbing at the park?
As early as infancy, children can learn how being active while playing is a healthy and constructive way to move their bodies and expend energy (that kids seem to have endless amounts of!). By starting early, you can teach your children lifelong habits of activity. Plus, if they see you being active, they will learn from your habits, too!
What does active play look like?
Infants (Zero to 12 months): Help them notice their surroundings and understand how their limbs work
- Tummy time
- Put a rattle loosely on their arm and let them wave it around
- Let them stroke different textures with their hands or feet
- Give them open spaces to scoot, crawl and climb
Toddlers: Help establish a positive opinion of physical activity
- Dancing to music
- Running and jumping
- Obstacle courses
- Kicking balls
- Lifting and throwing
Preschool aged: Help develop fundamental movement and sports skills
- Beginner sports like t-ball, soccer, etc.
- Catching, throwing, kicking and swinging to build coordination
- Foot races
- Bike riding
- Organized activities with teams or other participants
Of course, the main point of active play is that kids are being active at all! Let them decide what they are interested in and support them, encourage them and be there to cheer them on, even when they fail. Additionally, being active as a parent is a great way to ensure your kids will enjoy being active. Get outside for a family walk or hike, create a scavenger hunt at a local park or go out ice skating as a family to make being active a fun, family activity versus a chore.
Want some specific active play ideas? Check out this list from Learning4Kids.