Play is one of the best ways to learn, and pre-schoolers need time to just play freely. Daily physical activity is essential for young children – for their health, fitness, physical agility and all around development – and it is easy to get children to stay active through play.
Harried parents know how tempting it can be to park a toddler in front of television or to hand them an iPad, but it’s crucial to encourage young children to learn to enjoy active playtime. Take baby steps to wean yourself and your child away from the hi-tech world. In a busy workweek, find a few hours for a walk in the neighbourhood park or on the terrace. Take along a small beach ball to play catch, or revive your hopscotch skills. Also use this time to chat with your child and show them new interesting things as you explore their environment together. Make up stories about things you spot together like a bird, a flower or a car. Most importantly, switch off your phone for these few hours.
Once a month or so, try to organise a family activity that doesn’t involve going to a mall! Build a sandcastle together, go on a nature trail, visit a museum or the nearest planetarium. Encourage your child’s imagination. The cardboard carton in which the new television arrived could be a royal barge. A sheet strung over the clothesline might be an explorer’s tent. Try to participate in these playtimes. These are amazing opportunities to bond with your child and create cherished memories.
At school too, designated playtime is essential. At The Learning Curve, a range of enjoyable, age-appropriate activities have been designed for each class that cover group and individual activities, indoor and outdoor play, as well as free-play and teacher-directed activities. All of our centres have a play area, and most centres even have an outdoor play area.
The Learning Space’s curriculum experts have designed the physical activity schedule with a focus on fun, but that also help develop the child’s fine motor skills. Our centres have equipment like balance beams, obstacle course, streamers, hoops, beanbags and parachutes. The physical activity is integrated with simple games like duck-duck-goose, follow the leader, hide and seek, ring-a-ring-a-roses, catch and Simon Says. We also designate free playtime, i.e. unstructured physical activity of the child’s choosing. Our centres have equipment and space for free playtime, where children can climb steps, throw ball and pretend-play of their own free will. Moreover, we take care that our little participants warm up before the core activity as well as cool down after playtime – a good tip to remember even for playtimes at home.