The first years of a child’s life are filled with continuous growth.
Physical, cognitive, social and emotional growth are all closely intertwined with one another and together provide a strong foundation for a child to learn about both the world and themselves.
Child physical development refers to the gradual progression of a child’s gross and fine motor skills as they reach specific milestones. In other words, physical development describes the ability of a child to control and move their body, which in turn influences almost every aspect of their life.
Why is physical development so important for children?
We’ve all become more sedentary in our modern lives than we’d like, including children.
In order to meet the physical needs of a child, they need ample opportunity to walk, dance, jump and move freely. But how does this influence overall child health and development?
Children’s physical health and wellbeing impacts almost every aspect of a child’s life. By developing physically, a child is also:
Developing motor skills
Physical development enables children to develop and strengthen their bones and muscles as they learn to move their whole body. In addition to building gross motor skills, children’s physical development also involves the forming and improvement of fine motor skills.
Developing cognitive skills
Physical activity helps children develop a wide range of cognitive abilities, including attention span, memory and self-control.
Developing social skills
Being able to freely move and control their body empowers children to engage and play with others. A vast amount of a child’s burgeoning social skills stem from play, as it provides a positive environment for children to develop empathy and improve their communication and conflict resolution skills.
Promoting healthy growth and development
Overall, physical development is strongly linked to healthy growth and ensuring that the physical needs of a child are met. The activities that promote child physical development sets a stable foundation for continuous exercise and healthy lifestyle habits.
Fun ways to promote children’s physical development
Need inspiration for new and exciting ways to promote your child’s physical development? Here are some fun activities that will encourage both your child and you to get moving.
From improving coordination and balance to developing reflexes and gross motor skills, physical activity offers an almost endless amount of benefits outside of the obvious improved cardiovascular health. Even quiet games like Simon Says promote coordination and develop fine motor skills in children.
Games that require a greater amount of movement are also critical to supporting a child’s physical development. After all, it’s almost impossible to condense running, skipping, turning and waving into a natural, daily task. But with the game Red Light, Green Light, it’s more than possible to incorporate a wide range of different movements into a singular, fun activity.
For slightly older children, sports provide a fantastic opportunity to enhance their gross motor skills.
Of course, you’re probably not going to be signing your child up for the Junior A-League Soccer team any time soon. Instead, take time to build simple skills that will refine your child’s eye-hand coordination, such as kicking, throwing and catching.
For school-aged children, organised sports such as soccer and cricket are a fantastic way to not only promote physical development, but also overall fitness.
Music and dance
Dancing involves much more than just waving your limbs around. It also builds physical fitness, strengthens muscles, improves coordination and fosters gross motor skills. So, turn on your child’s favourite song and watch them bop up and down, knowing it’s strengthening their physical development.
If your child gets tired of listening to music and wants to instead create it, you’ll be glad to know that musical instruments are especially valuable when it comes to building fine motor skills. Even if your child doesn’t start writing legendary compositions like 5 year old Mozart did, playing the piano, triangle, maracas or any other instrument is an engaging way for your child to build eye-hand coordination and strengthen their smaller finger muscles.
The outdoors is the perfect place to balance, crawl, run, climb and jump (or, at least, it’s perfect in comparison to your lounge room).
Scavenger hunts, blowing bubbles, gardening and supervised water play are just a few of the countless activities that are ideally suited for the great outdoors. Experimenting with different outdoor activities is an exciting opportunity to promote physical development and perhaps discover a new hobby in the process.
Arts and crafts
Anyone who has ever tried to colour in a detailed picture knows that arts and crafts demands strong eye-hand coordination skills.
No matter whether your child is painting or cutting out and pasting pieces of paper into a collage, arts and crafts help develop fine motor skills in addition to a range of other skills, including patience, concentration and creativity.
You might be surprised to learn that reading is important in a child’s physical development. While reading unfortunately does not double as exercise for adults, it is a valuable physical activity for young children. Children engage their fine motor skills when turning pages and pointing at specific words or drawings. Encouraging reading to become an interactive experience will provide further opportunities for physical activity.
We are what we eat – it’s a saying for a reason.
Nutritious meals provide children with the energy they need to engage in all of the above activities with ample enthusiasm. Never underestimate the power of delicious, home-cooked meals when it comes to promoting your child’s physical development.
At Aurrum Kids, we fuel the young minds at our centres through our child care nutrition program designed by our partnering paediatric dietitians. To encourage children to take an active role in food preparation, we have an outdoor kitchen and greenhouse where children learn about the importance of balanced, fresh meals.
Visit an Aurrum Kids child care centre near you
Aurrum Kids’ early childhood learning environment is especially designed to promote physical activity in a safe and sensory-rich space. With a range of outdoor and indoor activities spanning everything from gardening and cooking to arts and crafts, our Reggio Emilia inspired, play-based curriculum blends physical activities with natural learning experiences.
If you would like to visit an Aurrum Kids child care centre, get in touch with our friendly team today to organise a tour at one of our centres in Mornington, Ballarat or Penrith.