How to Promote Physical Play in Early Years

How to Promote Physical Play in Early Years

Daily physical activity in the early years of childhood promotes healthy growth and development. Play is one of the best ways to introduce physical activity to a child because it normalizes exercise and fosters positive associations with movement. The benefits of physical play in early years have long-term effects, and maintaining a physically active life has many health benefits.

The Benefits of Physical Play in Early Years

A child’s exploration of a playground involves more than just having fun. Maneuvering different pieces of equipment and engaging in games with other kids aids in the development of their bodies and minds. Children are continually growing and learning as they become teenagers and young adults. Physical activity during this time is vital for keeping young bodies healthy, enhancing overall mobility and lowering the risk of obesity and type two diabetes. Other advantages of promoting physical play in the early years of childhood include:

  • Bone strengthening: Building strong bones as a child can help prevent disorders like osteoporosis as bones become stronger with exercise. Cartwheeling, jumping and skipping can help kids develop strong, healthy bones.
  • Coordination and balancing: Physical play can hone these abilities in kids too! Jumping helps kids understand their bodies in space, while all the sensory input involved with sliding helps teach kids how to motor plan. Even spinning around in circles is good for them! Spinning is actually the most effective type of sensory information for the brain to process! It helps children experience weight changes, depth perception, balance and the cause and effect of motion.
  • Developing motor abilities: Children can better hone their motor skills through controlled body movements as they play with others or use playground equipment like monkey bars.
  • Increasing flexibility: Children can stretch their muscles and extend their usual range of motion while they play. Kids naturally stretch when they play, which helps them become more flexible as they swing and cartwheel.

Physical activity is vital for keeping young bodies healthy, enhancing overall mobility and lowering the risk of obesity and type two diabetes.

How Do You Promote Physical Play?

According to the National Childhood Network (NCN), children should ideally get 60 minutes of mild physical activity every day. These exercises should combine aerobic and anaerobic activity, and at least three times per week, children should engage in bone and muscle strengthening and flexibility exercises. The NCN states that children’s cardiorespiratory and bone health will improve with these daily 60-minute exercise sessions. Here are some ways you can assist a child’s physical development by encouraging physical play:

1. Create a Space for Outdoor Education

Leave your environment or classroom behind without fear! Children can learn in an outdoor learning setting. You can set up a variety of obstacles to encourage kids to develop their gross motor skills on their own while having fun outside. There are lots of fun outdoor physical activities for the early years of childhood that you can incorporate into their education.

2. Encourage Fine Motor Development With Indoor Activities

Being indoors doesn’t mean children can’t be physically active. Cutting, pasting and making paper crafts are excellent activities for developing their fine motor skills. Plus, the kids love it too! Cutting exercises and finger gym activities are excellent exercises that aid in the development of a child’s fine motor skills and gross motor skills.

3. Establish Spaces for Play That Are Focused on a Particular Talent

Role-playing as various animals or playing with sand and water are great ways to promote physical play. All forms of physical play can be helpful and should be encouraged as long as they suit the child’s interests. While some kids enjoy playing with a ball, others may prefer playing dress up.

Your role as an educator or supervisor is to support the children’s interests and ensure that all the children have access to enjoyable physical play. The best way to accomplish this is by thoughtfully organizing your indoor and outdoor areas and assigning specific uses to specific spaces. For instance, you can have a play-pretend area, a modeling area and a digging area. There are countless options!

5 Outdoor Physical Activities for Young Children

Outside play allows a child to explore nature and be adventurous. Encourage them to try new playground equipment and test their physical limits, which will build their self-confidence. Here are five fun ideas for outdoor physical play activities for young children:

1. Draw Your Own Hopscotch

Hopscotch is a classic for a reason — it’s fun and completely customizable. The only thing that limits you is your imagination! With the power of sidewalk chalk, you can create a different hopscotch board every day and tailor it to the child’s age and jumping ability. Stick with squares or draw more fun outlines like triangles and cloud shapes. Children can also join the fun and help with the drawing.

Hopscotch lets kids show off their creativity and practice skills like hopping and skipping.

2. Jump From Puddle to Puddle

If it’s recently rained outside, grab your rain boots and a jacket and get ready to hop. You can make a game out of it — like who can make the biggest splash — or simply jump around until you’re too tired to jump any longer. There’s something about getting wet and muddy that will appeal to many young kids, and you can satisfy that longing with puddle jumping.

3. Conduct a Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are great for curious minds. You can find lots of inspiration for nature scavenger hunts online, or you can make your own custom list of items to seek out. You may have to alter the complexity of the list based on the child’s age, but consider the following options:

  • Red leaf
  • Yellow flower
  • Bird’s nest
  • Acorn
  • Moss
  • Branch
  • Rock
  • Tree
  • Tree stump
  • Butterfly
  • Bird

4. Play With a Sandbox or Water Table

Sandboxes and water tables provide wonderful sensory experiences for children. Sandboxes or water tables filled with different toys will keep children entertained and excited. You can put plastic cars and shovels in the sandbox and fill the water table with floating sailboats to engage the child’s senses and help them enjoy more time outside.

5. Visit a Local Playground

Is there any outdoor activity for kids that’s as fun as a playground? From swing sets and slides to interactive panels, there’s something every child can enjoy at the playground. Many playgrounds also offer equipment and activities specifically designed for preschool-aged children. These playgrounds help children develop their physical, emotional and social skills while providing an excellent place to get moving and exert some energy.

Promote Physical Activity With Early Childhood Playground Equipment

At Playworld, we’re all about physical play, and we love that you’re interested in promoting physical play in a child’s early years! We’re confident that you’ll find all you need at Playworld. We have many options for early childhood playground equipment, including the PlayTown collection.

Our Playhouse and Silly Tree encourage children to engage in free play and skill development. Rainbow Panel and Animal Locator Panel provide great learning panels that help stimulate children’s minds while they play. Looking for something more specific? You can create a custom structure with us that meets your particular needs. Simply request a quote by filling out our form and specifying which products you’re interested in.

Promote Physical Activity With Early Childhood Playground Equipment

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