Everyone knows that to be healthy, children have to move. Kids must be physically active.
And it’s much more than physical health that comes with being active. Children who move are healthier, happier, and more successful in life.
In our digital world, it can be challenging to raise children who enjoy and want to be active. But there is a simple recipe:
“The recipe to get kids moving is to serve them a daily dose of three ingredients: skills, confidence, and the love of movement.”– Richard Monette
Also in this series
The power of this recipe comes from the three healthy ingredients that “boost” each other’s goodness. It’s a perfect circle:
How to serve physical literacy every day
This recipe is one of the oldest in the world and a favourite of children of all nationalities (and many adults too). And it’s super healthy to boot. As the old adage says: “Active play, every day, keeps the doctor away!”
- ⅓ skills
- ⅓ confidence
- ⅓ love of movement
Don’t worry about being too precise here. This recipe is more like your grandma’s stew: There’s some wiggle room. As long as you include the three ingredients and balance them out, it will always turn out right.
- Begin with an invitation to play: “I would love to throw the ball with you” or “Let’s play balloon juggling!” If you’re not available to play with your child, you can also set up an “invitation” to encourage independent play by introducing new equipment, toys, or other interesting materials in your living room or backyard.
- Add a dash of skill development. The best way to do this is to ask questions like “How can you throw the ball higher?” When you ask questions, the child’s brain responds by finding solutions. When the child is finding solutions, the child is actually building skills from within.
- As children play, help them become aware of their focus, effort, and improvement. Realizing these facts will build their confidence. Say things like, “You can throw so much farther than yesterday!” Or “Wow! You really try hard, that’s awesome!”
- Repeat. Keep on serving the three ingredients in different activities: love of movement, skills, confidence…
All good chefs will tell you that to be successful, your recipe has to appeal to the people you feed. You might love a spicy chili, but you probably hold back on the jalapeño when you serve it to your child.
It’s the same with physical literacy: you’ve got to adjust the recipe to the age and development of the child.
In the previous article, I described how you could apply this recipe to engage a toddler to develop basic throwing skills and confidence, and how this can lead a child to love playing catch.
You begin by inviting the child to play by throwing a foam ball yourself. Use simple and positive language and make the game fun. The recipe would be the same for guiding preschoolers to engage in a game of hopscotch, or helping a team of eight-year-old hockey players improve their shooting skills.
It doesn’t matter if a child is “super athletic” or just not into sports—it comes down to serving the three ingredients in a way that will appeal to the taste of the child you feed.
This recipe, served daily in generous quantity, is the key to building a life-long healthy habit. Enjoy!
Read the next article in the series: How to get your kids to spend more time moving with a simple recipe called physical literacy.