In part one of this series, we examined why physical activity is so crucial in early childhood including maintaining a healthy weight and increased cognitive functions, and how movement and learning go hand-in-hand. In today’s post, we’ll expand on the need for movement in early childhood, introduce movement-based learning, and list activities you can do both at home and in the classroom to incorporate movement.
At Community Education Research Group, our infant, toddler, and preschool early education programs follow the Creative Curriculum and utilize movement in our daily classroom activities. Follow along in the concluding discussion on physical activity in early childhood.
Movement-based Learning in Early Childhood Education
We know and understand that movement is just as crucial in learning just as the mental component, which is where movement-based learning comes into play. Public schools have largely practiced a structured classroom where play is reserved for recess, while movement-based learning seeks to bridge the mental and physical parts of learning. Because toddlers inherently want to run, jump, kick and be active, a movement-based curriculum is extremely beneficial in teaching cognitive skills.
So how is more movement incorporated?
Movement can be integrated into the classroom in a multitude of ways. It can be as simple as moving from activity to activity and in-between make a line and walk around the classroom and have them do different movements. You could have them be their favorite animal or hop like a kangaroo.
Music and rhythm work has also been shown to be highly effective in early childhood education. This could be a circle time where they’re introduced to instruments and allowed to play along to a song, or singing a song and incorporate a beat they can clap or stomp to. In these scenarios, both the brain and the body are involved.
Integrating movement into everyday learning and beyond elective classes such as PE and music will be beneficial for the child and help establish a positive experience as they begin to grow and learn about their body.
Physical Activity in Early Childhood
Physical activity will look much different for a child than an adult, after all, they’re not going to be hitting the gym or looking to schedule their next hot yoga class!
Taking advantage of the warm summer weather and playing outside is a great way to get kids active.
Outdoor activities include:
- Running through the sprinkler
- Short, small hikes
- Riding bikes
- Jump rope
- Sidewalk chalk hopscotch
If the weather is uncooperative, you can do the following indoor activities:
- Simon Says (with lots of jumping and spinning)
- An obstacle course
- Help with household chores
- Play mini-corn hole
For a child, movement-based learning is favorable in both mental and cognitive learning and can be incorporated in a multitude of ways — but the bottom line is just to get the kids moving! Movement should happen both in the classroom and at home s finding activities away from technology is important, and again, it’s just about getting in daily activity whether it’s running around in the backyard or having a dance party indoors.
Help your child get more activity and watch them flourish!