Active children learn when they move
Clumsy toddlers emerge into active children ready to explore their world in just a few short years. Developing their fine and gross motor skills establishes an excellent foundation for growth for your kids. My friend, Moira Harding, leads a Motor Development Programme to kids between 2-6 years and advocates that as children are learning to move, they are also moving to learn.
“I enjoy working with young children. Their energy seems endless, and I like watching them explore their physical environment while learning valuable fine and gross motor skills,” enthuses Moira.
For a two-year-old, learning to move is critical to their growth. Through physical activity, children strengthen their bodies and brains. They get to explore their environment with their senses. Moira explains that “We live very sedentary lives. A lot of kids are placed in front of the TV, or an iPad or phone because parents are too busy. Kids learn to live a more sedentary lifestyle as opposed to being physically active on a regular basis. However, learning to move at a young age is essential to learning and healthy growing.”
How does physical activity help your young toddler or child grow?
- It builds neural pathways which increase your child’s ability to think and learn.
- It promotes good, healthy habits for kids for later on in life.
- Physical activity boosts your young one’s self-esteem. Children will grow in confidence as they learn new skills.
- Physical activity will help with posture and cause strength. It teaches the kids to sit up straight and helps them learn to concentrate for more extended periods of time.
- Physical activity promotes healthy bones and muscles.
- Active children learn social skills when playing.
- It also improves their listening skills when doing a group activity.
“True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.” Wilhelm Von Humboldt
How can you develop your child’s fine motor skill?
- If kids struggle with fine motor skills, then you sometimes find that they battle with a pencil grip. To strengthen fingers and wrists, you can do exercises like picking toothpicks up and putting them in bottles or playing with pegs and other manipulative skills.
- Do everyday activities like opening a jar, undoing zips, opening bottles, locks, and latches are essential skills for your child to learn. It’s also necessary for your young child to learn to dress themselves.
- Being able to cut with a pair of scissors, hold a pencil and not get frustrated sets your child up to do so more much later in life.
- Healthy body and self-care require good fine-motor skills.
Get your toddlers moving. It is so much easier to let a device or TV be the babysitter, but get them going. It is so good for them and for you. “I am fascinated with childhood development. When I work with young children, I can watch them grow and develop. Through the physical activity, I can see them developing their brains at the same time.”
Modeling her values to her children
Being physically active is one of Moira and her family’s core values. When her girls were little, they did the Tumble Bear programme with her. “We are a physically active family, and from when they were little they had a lot of physical play. Often on weekends at home, we would have lots of physical play. We would wrestle with the girls, play hide-and-seek and plenty of catching games. We made sure it was fun for them. My girls have grown up with all of us doing some form of activity.”
Your children will imitate their parents, and you can see that in Darryl and Moira’s kids. “We’ve always been very involved in our children’s development. As a family, we do lots of outdoor activity. From running, hiking, water-skiing and much more. We’ve set a good example for them for healthy living and healthy eating.”
Moria is a qualified teacher whose love for children shines through all she does. After a few years of teaching older children, and now younger ones, she has discovered that her passion lies in working with the toddlers and young kids. Moira started teaching motor development to 2-6-year-olds after she had her second daughter in 2000. She is a physically active wife and mom. “I have even started playing social netball now and loving it. I enjoy running, actually, anything that gets me outdoors. Personally, my exercise time is time to unwind. When I run, its a great stress reliever, a great time to think and pray.