In these challenging times we need to find safe and simple ways to keep young children physically active, healthy and well. They may be feeling anxious and unsettled, coping with different routines and unable to access their usual support systems of friends and extended family.
But, on the positive side, you may have more time now to engage with your children more meaningfully, to really listen to them and to enjoy their energy and imagination. This period will pass eventually. In the meantime, it's good to ‘let go’ a bit, and not fuss unnecessarily about the mess!
In this series, we will explore six easy ways in which you can ensure children are physically active, even if stuck indoors, using only what you have around you. No particular kit or clothing is needed, but please take shoes and socks off whenever possible. Allow anything from five to 20 minutes to try some of the activities, depending on your child's interest and stage of development.
You don’t have to do all the activities in one go or follow the weeks in this order, and you can always double up the weeks if you have the opportunity. Children will probably determine their favourite activities and decide to do them independently – please encourage and support this whenever possible, and safe.
What you need a bed of any size, a duvet and a pillow
What to do
Invite your child/children to:
- scramble on their tummies from one end of the duvet to the other, as fast as possible or by trying to go backwards and forwards.
- place both hands on the end of the bed and jump up onto their knees – try not to fall over. Older children may then balance on their knees with their arms stretched above them. Repeat the activity until a bit puffed!
- jump on the bed, land on their bottoms, then start again. Hold smaller children's hands
- sit or kneel next to the pillow and pat it as hard as possible with both hands so dents appear
- make fists and pummel the pillow as hard as possible. When they start to tire, encourage them to plump up the pillow again
- stand on the pillow and stamp on it without falling over – hold your child's hands if they are young
- hug the pillow very tightly
- throw the pillow into the air
- lie on the pillow and squash it flat
What’s in it for children
- These activities are simple to organise, can be done at any time and are a brilliant way of promoting overall body strength and co-ordination.
- You can talk to child/ren about why they are getting hot (because the heart is working harder), why they may be sweating and the importance of keeping hydrated.
- You can adapt the activities for different age groups. Babies love being lifted and lowered onto the bed which is really good for their vestibular development and they get the idea that jumping can be an up and down movement.
- Older children will quite happily jump independently on the bed but ensure they keep safe. At the same time, you can share a rhyme like ‘Five little monkeys jumping on the bed’ and ask them to sit down quickly when the monkeys ‘bump their heads.’
- Don’t forget your child/ren also need rest, relaxation and quiet, so have a space or resource available where they can curl up and be alone – for example, make a temporary ‘den’ under a table.
Taking it forwards
- You can always add music during the activities and children always enjoy singing along.
- Next time...we will explore lots of ideas for using the bath to support children's physical activity.