Hello from beautiful Montana:

Your child needs to have many opportunities to be active and to do physical exercise in order to build strong muscles, bones and imagination.  These activities and play should vary in intensity and interests in order to develop motor skills. Parents and child care providers need to be aware of ages and stages  of growth so they can set realistic expectations of what the child can or cannot accomplish.

Toddlers (under two years old)

Toddlers under two years enjoy playing by themselves or with one adult. They have difficulty working with a group or a friend of the same age. They also have difficulty sharing, so it is best if each child has their own ball, bean bag or toy drum.

Toddlers are great at play movements such as; clapping, walking, kicking, rolling, jumping, pulling, pushing, running, sliding, climbing, balancing, and marching. They need to be shown the basics and then can usually follow the directions or suggestions.

However, they are not good at competitive games and get very frustrated if  they can't do their own thing.  These small children have a short attention span and respond best when parents or child care providers give simple directions and change the activity often.

Pre-School (three to five years old)

This is just the beginning of social skills and learning to get along with other children. They may do parallel play, which is each child doing similar things in the same area, but not necessarily together.  For instance, children in the sandbox watch the other children and then mimic their sounds and actions.

This age group responds well when the adult asks questions such as "Can you see any toys that are red?" and "See if you can….."  "What happens if you……."

Their favorite play movements are: hopping on one foot, tossing balls , skipping, galloping like horses, complete with sound effects. They are also pretty adept at bouncing and throwing, so ball games are more fun for them than before.

Enrich Play Time Together

Although it is important to stimulate imagination and develop educational skills in your child, the most important activity is just being together.  You will find many opportunities to stimulate the child's imagination and help them to love learning. Education is important but laughter, interaction and involvement will build the memories of having fun with parents, teachers and other involved adults.

You Do An Important Work

Those who work with young children to build strong bodies, inquiring minds and good social skills, are to be congratulated. This is teaching and touching the future when you help a young child to be active and aware of the needs of others.

In gratitude and love,

Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship coach and author
PS: Please be sure to sign up for the free eBook Use Encouraging Words at  you will be glad you did.

Young Kids Need Active Play To Be Healthy