Physical activity is an essential component in children’s overall health and well being. Unfortunately some children are not as active as they should be to prevent harmful harmful short term and long term effects on their health. * Short term health
Physical activity helps children to build muscle, develops the skeletal frame, develops the heart and lung function and also helps prevent obesity. Children who are active are likely to sleep better and longer and are less likely to develop infections such as colds and flu. * Long term health
Physical activity in young children not only supports health in the short term but can also give children a positive attitude towards sport, playing outdoors and walking. It is important to start when the children are young as when they are older they lose interest in activity. If children are not sufficiently active they are more likely to become overweight or obese, this in turn is linked with serious diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancers. For girls, there is also the increased risk of developing osteoporosis later in life if they don’t take physical exercise. * Well being
As well as providing short and long term benefits, physical activity is also important for children’s overall well being. If physical activity is taken outdoors, children will benefit from fresh air and a feeling of being in a free environment. Children can benefit emotionally and socially as they learn new skills and develop confidence playing with others The current guidelines for physical activity suggest that children should get a minimum of one hour a day. This can be through walking, play or structured activities. 1.2
In order to achieve the physical skills required a mixture of movement skills need to be acquired in the right order. They include the following; * Hand - eye coordination
Many activities require the hand and eye to work together. For example throwing a ball requires the brain to send the correct signal from the eyes to the hands to create the correct movements. * Foot-eye coordination
Children have to learn to guide their feet. Kicking a ball or climbing stairs require this type of coordination * Balance
Balance is a complicated skill. Although most of us take it for granted, the ability to balance is a skill that develops with age.
These skills form and develop as part of the central nervous system in babies and young children. The Central nervous system is responsible for sending out signals from the brain to the rest of our body. Information is constantly collected from our body’s senses. The whole process is surprisingly quick allowing the body to take action against possible dangers. In babies and young children the central nervous system has to develop and mature. At first babies have to rely on the natural reflections they are born with until the central nervous system learns how to control their responses. The rate at which babies and children gain control over their bodies varies enormously. There are three key principles that underpin the gaining of this control; 1. Development follows a definite sequence
Movements and control develop in a specific sequence which means babies cannot learn to walk before they can sit unsupported 2. Development starts with control of head movements and develops downwards and outwards Babies gain control over their head and top of their spine before the rest of the body. 3. Development starts with uncontrolled gross motor movements before becoming precise and refined Babies gain control over their arms before their hands and fingers. This is important to know before trying to teach a child to write. They will need to start with large letter types before learning to write letters in the correct size and form. We use our physical skills every day. The development of children’s skills gives them independence, over time they no...