Healthy habits start very young, and the choices parents and caregivers make for preschoolers can be a good start. From babyhood to childhood, using large muscles is important to learning, and children learn a lot about the world by using their whole bodies. Of course, encouraging good nutrition, making sure your child gets plenty of rest, and participating in physical activities together builds healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
JUMPING AND MOVEMENT
Your preschooler needs many chances to discover what her body can do and she will want to spend a lot of time dancing, jumping and climbing. Chances are, your preschooler will also be very independent and want to act independently. Stand by with your verbal support and be close enough to give help. Also, be ready to suggest acceptable alternatives for behaviors you don't allow.
- Set up an obstacle course and give your child up to three directions. An example: Go under the table, over the chair and around the pillow. Start with one and build up to three if she's ready.
- Play Simon Says using large motor movements.
- Encourage your child to jump using both feet. Progress to hopping on one foot, then the other.
Cooking and domestic duties may not be your favorite thing, but they are among the few activities whose point the children understand (dad cooks . . . I eat!) and love to join in. Your child's "help" will slow you up, but if he doesn't join in, cooking could be equally as frustrating for you both!
- Preschoolers like to do it themselves. They will enjoy pouring flour, adding liquid or stirring. If you have lots of time they may like to practice measuring a full cup, too!
- Reinforce your child's independent efforts to do it himself.
- Encourage your child to answer questions with more than one word by asking questions like - "What will happen if . . .?" Ask your child what he thinks needs to be put into the bowl next.
GOING TO THE PARK
Preschoolers love to challenge their large muscles by using various types of climbing equipment.
- Allow your child to plan to choose safe activities to do next.
- Ask your child questions about what he is doing and what he enjoys.
- Encourage your child to experience different types of equipment - slide, climbing equipment, balance beam. Supervise well.
Preschoolers really like to think of themselves as big! You can talk a lot about how they are growing (just like the plants). Preschoolers need lots of direction to remember to water plants but love "doing" it themselves.
- Ask your child what the plant will need to grow. Talk to her about how sun and water make the plant grow big and strong.
- Ask your child to identify leaves, stems and roots.
- Have her water the plants and practice pouring a little water at a time.