Run, skip, throw, jump. Recently we dove in and talked about how these fundamental movement skills can be adapted to water to build a lifetime of aquatic fun. But proficiency in these skills is first gained in the most fundamental of places: the ground beneath our feet.
Next up in our four-part environmental series is building physical literacy on land. As kids head back to school this month and spend more time being active in the gymnasium and on the playground, we’ll take a look at mastering these movement skills on various terrestrial surfaces.
Why it’s important to master physical literacy on land
We already know that being active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But recent studies [PDF] show that kids today aren’t as active as they need to be. And with technology always within easy arm’s reach, whether it be a smartphone, tablet, or TV, managing screen time is one of this generation’s biggest battles.
Related read: 10 tips to manage screen time
Building fundamental movement skills early gives kids the best chance to keep moving as they grow and advance through school. If you can run, hop, throw, catch, jump, and balance your body in various ways, then you can play outside, explore the outdoors, play any number of sports, dance, do yoga, and keep active for life!
You don’t need to be a physical education expert to help guide your child through a variety of skills. It’s about turning some of your daily tasks into fun games. Here are some things you can do:
Once your child learns to walk you might think there’s nothing new to learn. But as soon as they are mobile on two feet, you can mix it up by showing them how to walk backwards, sideways, up and down stairs, over uneven ground, up a hill, over park benches or a big log. A daily trip to the park, or even the walk to school, can become a fun game where you try to find something new to walk and balance on.
Why not add a hop, skip and a jump to your next outdoor walk or hike? Hop over the cracks in the sidewalk, skip over a pile of leaves, or put those rubber boots on and jump in a mud puddle. You can also jump off something with height, like a bench or a step. Or turn on some music and hop around.
Putting together a game of catch doesn’t have to be daunting, especially if something like baseball was never your sport. Keep it simple, by tossing around a beach ball, or throwing a bean bag through a hoop or even balls of paper into a bucket. A couple of socks bundled up makes for a nice, soft ball to toss. How about tossing bird seed at the ducks the next time you’re near a pond?
Standing on one foot. Downward dog. Walking along the edge of a playground. These are all simple but easy balancing moves that you can include in any outing or play time. Make it a game: who can stand on one foot the longest? Who can walk the furthest in a straight line? Before you know it, your kids will be developing a key skill necessary for all sports and fitness activities.
As you can see, there are many ways to build movement skills on land through your everyday activities. Mastering these basic skills gives kids the best foundation to learn games and sports at school and have fun on the playground with their friends. The goal is to develop kids who are confident enough in their moves that they’ll keep active their whole lives!
Would you like more ideas for fun games and activities to play with your kids? Check out our Activities section.