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My home as a playground!

For a childminder, maintaining your home as a functioning space and a safe, learning environment is no easy feat, especially when you are continuously trying to encourage physical development 

A recent study by Loughborough University showed that 91% of UK four year olds are not getting enough physical development in their daily lives, this will impact on ALL areas of development.

In 2011 the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) issued recommendations for all children (walkers to 5 year olds) to receive 180 minutes (minimum) of physical activity per day. Sadly, so some practitioners are STILL not aware of these guidelines or the impact of movement on cognition.

Children learn through movement; the first touch, interactions with others, engaging with the environment. Each movement builds neural coupling within the brain, repetitive movements subsequently cement those connections creating the architecture of the brain. 

The more physical actions children develop, results in more neural coupling. When a physical action is cemented it becomes automated (not requiring thought) freeing the brain for listening and talking.

To understand this concept, fold your arms (ensure they are crossed in the centre), release them and stretch them above your head, then cross them again…THE WRONG WAY! You may notice a delay as your brain tries to ‘understand the action’ telling your body what to do!  Did it require a lot of thought? Your brain was engaged with the physical, unable to focus on listening or speaking. This is how learning happens for young children – the more physically able and competent they are will enable higher learning potential.

Children need to ensure they develop all areas of physical development, using the fundamental movement skills (FMS) as a starting point can offer some initial guidance:

Body Management – Balance, Roll, Climb

Locomotor – Run, Jump, Hop

Object Control – Catch, Kick, Throw, Strike

Let’s look at some practical ways we can support physical development in our homes:

  • Create as much open space in your home as possible – where possible remove tables and chairs. Place cushions on the floor and encourage floor play, rolling ortumbling. You may wish to suggest being animals as a prompt. Try using Camille Saens Saints – Carnival of the animals. This is a lovely piece of classical  music used for various animals.
  • Collect huge cardboard boxes and make structures to climb through, into or over. Encouraging positional language, problem solving and physical skills. Boost imaginations with additional accessories for role play.
  • Housework – children love to help tidy. Washing the floor with a mop is a great exercise, providing a bowl for washing plates and cups, making beds and folding sheets, hanging out washing all develop essential movement skills, dexterity and physical competence.
  • Visit your local haberdashery for scraps of cloth and ribbon and make your own pom poms and ribbons for dancing. Use them inside and outside.
  • Encourage climbing, whether a low tree, safe furniture or climbing frame.
  • Set a timer for 2/3 times a day as “boogie time”. When the alarm sounds you play a song (of your choice) and dance together with the children. Don’t forget, introducing children to your music choices will initiate a curiosity for music. Offer a variation of styles, classical, Techno, funk, soul, world or pop for example, and see which one they choose.

Physical activity benefits us all, so ensure you participate too! 

For further music ideas please visit my website and download my FREE music resource or read more about training for early years staff.

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