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  • Writer's pictureAuthor - Angela Nettuno

Physical Development and Exercise

***Little bodies need to move, move, move…

Early Childhood is all about exploring and learning about the world…….. Physical movement activities help children feel successful as they develop self-confidence in their ability to do things independently. For a young child, the natural desire to move, run, jump, kick, climb, spin, and hang upside down are the brain’s way of getting what it needs. Recent research as stated in Your Child’s Growing Mind, by Jane M. Healey, Ph.D., states that movement helps develop the cerebellum which in turn interacts with the vestibular system affecting balance. In addition, the cerebellum is also important for higher cognitive skills such as language and possibly attention; therefore, if a young child isn’t allowed to move, he will subconsciously seek out this stimulation in any way he can and it may show up in undesirable ways such as climbing on tables or shelves or continuously “running off.” These behaviors, in turn, will stress the parents and can create a negative snowball effect which can then set the stage for frustration. So let their little bodies move, move, move in appropriate ways while exploring and learning about their world! In the end the parents, teacher(s) and child will be much happier!

Physical Development Physical development typically follows a Gross Motor (large muscle) to Fine Motor (small muscle) progression. Examples of Gross Motor movement are anything using the large muscles like moving arms, walking, sitting up, etc. Examples of fine motor skills would be grasping objects, holding a pencil to write, etc.

Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Sleep go hand-in-hand with Attention

Recent research has shown that exercise and physical activity can directly affect cognitive skills and attention. An excellent read on the subject is Spark by John J. Ratey and Eric Hagerman. Finally, in addition to exercise, a child needs the required amount of sleep and proper nutrition in order to achieve maximum emotional stability and academic success. Forcing academic standards upon a child who has not had their basic needs met first can not only be ineffective, but have unfortunate long-term consequences. In conclusion, to ensure maximum cognitive growth, make sure your child gets adequate rest, proper nutrition, and plenty of opportunity to move, move, move and explore and learn about his wonderful world!

…So let these little bodies move, move, move in appropriate ways, encourage proper nutrition and rest, and let them run, jump, spin, play and explore their world daily! In the end the parents, teacher(s) and child will be much happier!

Happy parenting… Enjoy the journey…


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