We have recently launched a new program in our curriculum called Choklits Activate, with the aim of fostering children’s love of movement through age-appropriate and skill-focused activities, so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to discuss how beneficial participating in sport and generally being active is for children.
Being active is really important for children of all ages, not only because its loads of fun, but also because it supports growth in numerous essential developmental areas, including gross motor and fine motor skills, coordination, proprioception, social skills like teamwork and cooperation, listening to and following instructions, focus and concentration.
Participating in sport also aids children’s emotional development, by increasing self-esteem, and building confidence and self-efficacy through gaining a sense of achievement and competence. Furthermore, it instils healthy habits to set children up to continue being active throughout their lives, which is a key indicator for overall health.
Our Choklits Activate program is designed to encourage children to be active in a structured format, but physical activity includes far more than just participating in sports. It can be as simple as a game of ring-a-ring-a-roses as skipping in a circle, sitting down and jumping up are all ways of being active, or playing leapfrog or kicking a soccer ball around the garden.
Playing at the park is also an excellent example of an opportunity for movement; your child will be building their vascular fitness and endurance when they run, improving their muscle strength and proprioception when they climb a ladder, go on a climbing frame or do the monkey bars, gaining important social skills when they engage in imaginative play at a shop counter and developing flexibility when digging in the sand pit.
Physical Health Benefits of Being Active for Children
Participating in a wide range of different physical activities is essential for children’s physical health. Different types of physical activity target different skills and have different benefits; for example, playing catch will improve hand-eye coordination, skipping will help develop endurance and body awareness, yoga will aid proprioception and flexibility and team sports like dance, soccer or netball will build strength and teamwork abilities.
The Physical Benefits of Being Active for Children Include:
- The development of healthy, bones, muscles and joints
- The development of a healthy vascular system, heart and lungs
- Improved coordination, muscle control and strength
- Improved gross and fine motor skills
- Decreased risk of chronic health problems like obesity, heart disease and type two diabetes later in life
- Improved balance, proprioception, posture, reaction time and flexibility
- Better sleep, due to the endorphins released during physical activity
- The development of healthy lifestyle patterns involving physical activity which they will carry with them throughout their life
Mental Health Benefits of Being Active for Children
The mental and emotional health benefits of physical activity for children are often overlooked in the discussion about the importance of incorporating being active into a child’s day, however they are just as vital to their overall wellbeing.
Doing a wide variety of different movements helps children to develop vital connections and new pathways in their brain, which supports cognitive development as well as increased concentration, focus and critical thinking skills. Additionally, engaging in physical activity prompts the brain to release endorphins, which make you feel good and help you to sleep better, improving mood and decreasing anxiety.
Team sports and group activities are doubly beneficial, as they also foster social interactions, developing social skills, cooperation, problem solving abilities, teamwork skills and a sense of belonging through providing an experience where children are building rapport working towards shared goals.
Another incredible benefit of being active for children is the positive impact it has on self-esteem and confidence. When kids experience how much fun it is to play, jump, dance and run, they build a positive association with the activities and gain an understanding of all the amazing things their bodies can do. Having an appreciation of their body’s capabilities and learning new skills fosters a sense of achievement, improving their self-esteem, self-confidence and sense of self-efficacy. Developing this awareness early on in life is also hugely important for promoting positive body image.
The Mental and Emotional Benefits of Being Active for Children Include:
- Supporting cognitive development
- Improved concentration and focus
- Improved problem solving, critical thinking skills and ability to follow instructions
- A reduction in anxiety levels
- Improved mood, happiness and sleep
- Healthy, positive body image
- The development of vital social skills such as cooperation and teamwork
- Giving a sense of belonging and supporting positive relationships with peers
- Improved self-esteem, self-confidence and self-efficacy
Overall, being active is immensely beneficial for children’s physical, emotional and social development, as it is embedded with opportunities to improve their physical and cognitive abilities. Fostering a love of movement is a key goal of the Choklits Activate program, as it helps to build healthy physical activity habits so our children can continue to enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle in their future years.