In school, children focus much of their time on such cognitive skills as reading, writing and math. Outside of school children, are spending more and more time on technical activities such as computers, video games and television. In order to grow healthy and fit, children also need to develop motor skills. Not only does it improve health and encourage play and social development between children, developing these physical skills promotes enjoyment and involvement in lifelong physical activity.
The first step in developing motor skills is the understanding of the body and how it moves. Stretching exercises and teaching children about bones, muscles and ligaments and the need to warm them up to work efficiently is important.
Lesson plans focusing on zigzag running, skipping, leaping, jumping in place, hopping and galloping in place, peddling our legs, sliding and kicking teaches a child the various types of movement that can be made with legs and feet. Setting up obstacle courses in such a way to require a child to weave in and out, leap up and over, slide along and through is a fun way to incorporate different locomotor skills. Kickball is a game that involves both kicking and running. Jump rope and hopscotch involve leaps and skips.
Catching not only increases motor skills, it helps to develop hand-eye coordination and acuity. Lesson plans developed around catching might include tossing gym balls, basketballs, whiffleball, softball or baseball. Frisbee play is another option as is football and juggling. Independent activities that can be carried over to use at home include bouncing a wall against a wall and catching it, building a launch pad from a board and dowel to launch softballs into the air to catch.
Several activities can be used to develop throwing skills and using arms to launch objects. Bean bag toss, basketball, pitching and passing balls are common activities. Swinging a racket in badminton and tennis are fun lesson ideas. Archery, Frisbee throwing, bowling are other lesson options. For the older grade levels javelin throwing, discus and shot put can be added to the curriculum.
Toning the muscles, keeping them lean and long promotes strength and flexibility, endurance and promotes healthy respiratory and heart rates. Children can also learn about calorie burning and how to avoid metabolic slow down as they age or become sedentary. Lesson plans showing proper technique and instruction with sit and reach, stretches, yoga techniques, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups are valuable in motor skill development. In the older grade levels, weights and exercise equipment can be utilized.
- Photo Credit Exercise ball image by StephenD from Fotolia.com girl jumping image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com frisbee image by Stepanov from Fotolia.com
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