Moving and Learning – School Readiness

Smart_beginnings_logo_FINALMoving & Learning                        By Kris Meyers, M.Ed.

Did you know that young children today are less physically active than ever before?  Physical activity plays an important role in early brain development.  In fact, young brains grow best when children are able to move and interact with the world around them

“Research suggests young children can raise their achievement level, increase motivation, heighten their understanding, accelerate their learning timeline and expand their creativity through physical motor skills” (Dr. Mary McCabe, health researcher)

Below are some suggestions for helping young children move and learn from Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke …

Limit Screen time …… If young children sit still too long in front of a TV, or with a computer game, they won’t get the physical exercise their bodies and brains need to thrive.  So set a timer when your child is watching TV or playing with a video game.  Then make your child get up and move when the timer goes off.  Look for DVDs that encourage children to be actively involved, like dance or exercise videos for kids.   (Ideally, try to keep screen time to no more than 2 hours total a day, or 10 hours total per week).

Spend time outside…… Outside time equals active time and young brains benefit from spending time in the fresh air.  So even when it’s cold, bundle up and try to spend a little time outside each day by throwing a ball back and forth in the yard, riding a tricycle, taking a walk, or going to a nearby playground.

jon on trike-1

Play “Moving” games with friends…..When friends come over to play, keep the TV off and encourage children to play active social games.  Classic games like “Simon Says”, “Hide & Seek” or “Red Light, Green Light” are simple enough for preschoolers to understand, and gets them interacting together.

Set up an indoor obstacle course…….When you’re stuck inside and your child really needs to move, create an indoor obstacle course.  Make tunnels to crawl through, use chairs to go under, pile up pillows to climb on and set out toys or other objects to jump over.  Challenge older preschoolers to move like different animals as they try to complete the obstacle course.

Have a dance party….Turn up the music, andspend a few minutes dancing with your children each day.  Allow different family members to select the music, and try different dance moves.  Exposing children to a variety of styles of music can boost early learning as well.

Look for toys, games and books that encourage active involvement…..Many electronic toys don’t require much movement, so make sure you provide toys and games that also encourage active play.  (For example, pushing a toy truck around the room is better than pretending to drive a car on a video game screen).   You can even add movements to books such as having your child stomp their feet when reading the story “3 Billy Goats Gruff”.

Remember, physical movement stimulates not only muscle and bone development, but also brain growth and development. So encourage your child to move and you’ll be helping them be ready for school and ready for life!

Is my child on track?  Visit the Parents page on our website to learn about important developmental milestones and school readiness


Growing Up in the Valley is Roanoke's very first family focused magazine. We are the premier source for family fun in Southwest & Central Virginia!
Share This: