Friday, January 13, 2012

The Power of Movement

The New Year is here and many of us are talking about moving more--moving to reduce weight, moving to increase energy and moving to take better care of our bodies. Movement is a powerful tool for parents, caregivers and educators of young children. Eloise Elliott, Ph.D., creator of a web-based instructional module for intermediate age children on cardiovascular health, Healthy Hearts for Kids, and Steve Sanders, Ph.D., author of Designing Preschool Movement Programs, tell us that regular physical activity helps children build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints; reduces fat; prevents or delays the development of high blood pressure; and may, through its effect on mental health, increase students' capacity for learning. In addition, professionals in mental health fields tell us that physical exertion can calm us and have a positive impact on our social and emotional health.

Adults and children alike can use movement for exercise, development and just to have fun. Large muscle activities are important for toddlers who are learning to walk, balance, climb and reach. As we grow, movement continues to help us develop so that we can do many activities, becoming increasingly independent and doing it, “by my own,” which is what one of my 3 year olds exclaims on a regular basis.

Fun is important when working to get our young ones to move—here are some activities to try. Take a load off, play and see what works for you and yours.

Fun together at a DCM Jim Gill Concert!
Just dance.  Jim Gill is a local artist who puts out some great interactive music for children. Children love to “Dance any way they want to, dance any way they please...”; they listen to a song called Spin Again, again and again, dancing, often wildly, while the “washing machine is washing them clean.”  Older children love to dance, too, with music geared more toward their age group. 

Older children dance at a Tiny Great Performance©
Stretch and move. Yoga is a great stretching and strength-building activity. Babar, the elephant, has a wonderful introductory approach to yoga. The book is titled Babar’s Yoga for Elephants by Laurent de Brunhoff. There are some great titles, books or videos at the local library or bookstore to help you get started. And DCM has a Hop ‘n Bop© Beach Party class soon, too.

So Happy New Year! Let’s get moving for our health, growth and development!

Mollie Willis, MS Curriculum and Instruction, guest blogger,
Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on Movement as Art, Movement as a Science and Movement with Math & Literature.

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