Monday, April 29, 2024

Your Children Need to MOVE!

C. Reflections Beneath the Poetz Tree
Just Move

Originally published on Saturday, October 08, 2016, at 
Monkey Bars, Mud Pies, & Movement

by: M.B.Varville-Rodriguez

Present Day Note: This was a great reminder to me of times when my children were in Elementary School, and I did drop off and pick up. My youngest is now a Junior in High School, and I noticed similar needs for movement from the Junior High (close to the high school) and High School students as they leave the building - especially now that the weather is warming up. Being tethered to a desk in a room with your peers is not natural - our bodies are meant to move throughout our day (or our shift now that we are adults). Here are my thoughts following one of those pick-up days almost eight years ago.

I just had to write again about how much children need opportunities to move throughout the day.  They crave movement. Even when children have challenges that might inhibit them from moving on their own, they still need someone to help them move to activate their muscles. 

Waiting for my children to come to the car rider line at the end of their school day is one of my favorite things to do. Sometimes parents are busy doing other things as they wait. But I encourage parents to look up as soon as that bell rings and really watch how the children come out. The observations are stunning. The manner in which those kiddos exit the building will give you some insights into why movement and the lack of movement during a school day are so significant.

Let me share what I observed one warm, sunny day after the bell:

1.  Doors bursting wide open as children run free.

2. A few children sprint directly toward the playground where they jump up the stairs ricochet down the
   slides and attempt to climb to the roof over one of the platforms.

3.  There are cartwheels, tumbles, and playful wrestling matches on the way to their cars.

4.  Laughter, joking with friends, and smiles echo through the air.

5.  Motion toward the cars are accomplished via skips, hops, and even a few twirls.  

6.  A few children simply spin towards their direction of travel.

7.  Some children are so happy to be outside, they fall to the ground and look up to the sky.

8.  In the distance, I see some friends rolling down a hill, backpacks tossed aside.

9. Several children happily walk hand in hand with parents who escort them back to their parked
    vehicles or to nearby homes.

10. Calmly waiting for your parents...not an option. Movement of some type is always noted, even if it's
    swinging arms, stomping feet into the dirt, or doing a few squats in place.

Important Reminder

If your child has not had enough opportunities to expend this energy after school, you can definitely expect it to come out inside the house. So be prepared to offer indoor options if outdoor play is not on the schedule after school. Those jumps, spins, and climbs? Yeah, that's gonna happen.  Ideas for inside activities:

1.  An obstacle course using pillows, soft balls, laundry baskets for practicing dunk shots 
    and even a sock toss station could help create fun yet safe movement opportunities.
    Remove the chairs from the dining room or kitchen and let the kiddos crawl under. Set up
    an area to "skip" over stuff. (Use place mats, books, or stuffed animals to jump over.)

2.  A small trampoline can be magic for the child who simply needs to bounce. I have one of
     those. (The bounce seeking child.) I also got the exercise trampoline that is designed for
     indoor use. (Hint:  Get the ones that are already put together. Those that need to be
     assembled will make you swear like crazy. No lie!)

3.  If you're not worried about the furniture (we are a family that highly recommends thrift
     stores like Good Will or The Arc) you might consider allowing your tumblers to flip over
     the soft couch. I know, I know, it goes against how you were raised to not jump on
     furniture.  However, some children are sensory seeking and need to tumble, flip, and
     challenge their balance. Be specific about what you will allow them to try if possible.
     (Lord knows they can come up with some stunts you'd never imagined.)  

4.  Turn off the television and turn on some music. See who can come up with the silliest or
     coolest dance moves. Let them go up and down the stairs in time to the music. Encourage
     them to move in a variety of directions/movement patterns.  For example:

  • Up/Down arm movements and squats
  • Reaching over to the left then to the right then up then down
  • Forward/Backward steps
  • Turn steps to left then right
  • Shaking your arms and legs
  • Tapping your toes/Clapping your hands
  • Jump/Clap/Twist combinations

The idea is to keep them moving until they reach a point where you see they are ready for a cool down/calming activity.  You'll know when your child reaches that moment.  

Plan a quiet activity as a transition.  Perhaps dim the lights and ask them to listen really close for their heartbeat. Tell them to talk a deep breath in and make a whoosh sound as they breath out.  You can even practice counting for the inhale and the exhale. Then ask them to listen again for their heartbeat. When you finish with this activity (2 minutes is good) offer a glass of water and a light snack to hold them over until dinner.

Hopefully this transition from school to home can become a part of their routine and allow for a calmer start to their evening. How do you help your children decompress after their school day?  

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Thank you for visiting I appreciate your time and comments. Kindest Wishes, Mary