Exercise & Active Play at Sunny Days Children’s Nursery

Exercise & Active Play at Sunny Days Children’s Nursery

Babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers learn through play at Sunny Days Children’s Nursery. This means that physical activity comes naturally, forming a key part of their day with us at nursery. Indeed, it’s embedded as part of EYFS Curriculum. As such, children use the huge variety of physical activities on offer at the nursery to improve mobility, coordination, balance, physical fitness, hand-eye coordination, agility and physical strength. This is all done through our learning and development plan that’s specific to the strengths and preferences of each individual child. The Key Person is a member of staff assigned to oversee the progress of each child and goals are set and milestones recorded. In this way, every child will achieve personal bests during their time with Sunny Days, becoming well-rounded, ‘school-ready’ and very active individuals by the time they’re five.

Raising happy active children

Anyone who’s seen children on a playground knows that most are naturally physically active and love to move around. But what might not be apparent is that climbing to the top of a slide or swinging from the monkey bars can help lead children to a lifetime of being active. Helping children from a very young age to be physically active, and to fit that into their everyday lives, will be beneficial to them when they grow up. Doing so can set healthy patterns that will last into adulthood.

Benefits of being active

When children are active, their bodies can do the things they want and need them to do. Why? Because regular exercise provides these benefits:

  • strong muscles and bones
  • healthy weight
  • decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • better sleep
  • a better outlook on life

Physically active children also are more likely to be motivated, focused, and successful in school. And mastering physical skills builds confidence at every age.

What motivates children?

So there’s a lot to gain from regular physical activity, but how do you encourage children to do it? The three keys are:

  1. Choosing the right activities for a child’s age: If you don’t, the child may be bored or frustrated.
  2. Giving children plenty of opportunity to be active: Children need parents to make activity easy by providing equipment and taking them to playgrounds and other active spots.
  3. Keeping the focus on fun: Children won’t do something they don’t enjoy.

When children enjoy an activity, they want to do more of it. Practicing a skill — whether it’s swimming or riding a tricycle — improves their abilities and helps them feel accomplished, especially when the effort is noticed and praised. These good feelings often make children want to continue the activity and even try others.

Age-appropriate activities

The best way for children to get physical activity is by incorporating physical activity into their daily routine. Toddlers and pre-schoolers should play actively several times a day.

Fitness and your toddler

Children this age are walking and running, kicking, and throwing. They’re naturally active, so be sure to provide lots of chances for your child to practice and build on these skills. How much is enough? Physical activity guidelines for toddlers recommend that each day they:

  • get at least 30 minutes of structured (adult-led) physical activity
  • get at least 60 minutes of unstructured (active free play) physical activity
  • not be inactive for more than 1 hour at a time except when sleeping

What toddlers can do

It’s important to understand what children can do and what skills are appropriate for this age. By age 2, toddlers should be able to walk and run well. They might be able to kick a ball and jump in place with both feet. By age 3, toddlers usually can balance briefly on one foot, kick a ball forward, throw a ball overhand, catch a ball, and pedal a tricycle. Keep these skills in mind when encouraging your child to be active. Play games together and provide age-appropriate active toys, such as balls, push and pull toys, and riding vehicles. Through practice, toddlers will continue to improve and refine their motor skills.

Family Fitness Tips

Walking, playing, exploring your backyard, or using playground equipment at a local park can be fun for the entire family. Also, these games provide fun and fitness for parents and toddlers:

  • Walk like a penguin, hop like a frog, or imitate other animals’ movements.
  • Sit facing each other and hold hands. Rock back and forth and sing the song “Row, row, row your boat.”
  • Bend at the waist and touch the ground. Walk your hands forward and inch along like a caterpillar.
  • Listen to music and dance together. The possibilities are endless — come up with your own active ideas or follow your child’s lead.

Raising a fit pre-schooler

Pre-schoolers have a lot of energy, which they use in a more organised way than when they were toddlers. Instead of just running around in the backyard, a pre-schooler has the physical skills and coordination to ride a tricycle or chase a butterfly. Pre-schoolers need play and exercise that helps them continue to develop important motor skills — kicking or throwing a ball, playing tag or follow the leader, hopping on one foot, riding a trike or bike with training wheels, or running obstacle courses.

Helping children learn new skills

Pre-schoolers develop important motor skills as they grow. New skills your pre-schooler might show off include hopping, jumping forward, catching a ball, doing a somersault, skipping, and balancing on one foot. Help your child practice these skills by playing and exercising together. When you go for a walk, your pre-schooler may complain about being tired but most likely is just bored. A brisk walk can be dull for young children, so try these tips to liven up your family stroll:

  • Make your walk a scavenger hunt by giving your child something to find, like a red door, a cat, a flag, and something square.
  • Sing songs or recite nursery rhymes while you walk.
  • Mix walking with jumping, racing, hopping, and walking backward.
  • Make your walk together a fun math lesson as you focus on numbers and counting: How many windows are on the garage door? What numbers are on the houses?

How much activity is enough?

Physical activity guidelines recommend that pre-schoolers:

  • are active throughout the day
  • move and engage in both active play and structured (adult-led) physical activity
  • do activities such as jumping, hopping, and tumbling to strengthen bones

Pre-schoolers should do a variety of fun and challenging physical activities that help build skills and coordination, but aren’t beyond their abilities. They should be active about 3 hours a day, including light, moderate, and vigorous activities.

How can I keep my pre-schooler moving?

Many children love being outdoors, but lots of fun things can be organised indoors: a child-friendly obstacle course, a treasure hunt, or forts made out sheets and boxes or chairs. Designate a play area and clear the space of any breakables. Here are some more ideas for active play inside:

  • Play bounce catch.
  • Use paper airplanes to practice throwing.
  • Balance a beanbag on your heads while walking — make this more challenging by setting up a simple slalom course.
  • Play freeze dance.
  • Play wheelbarrow by holding your child’s legs while they walk forward on their hands.

Children watch how their parents spend their time. So set a good example by exercising regularly and being active. Children who see this as something their parents do naturally want to do it too.