Keeping kids active this winter
The pandemic’s grasp on Ireland really hit hard during the summer with very few camps running, and very little organised sport but kids remained active because the evenings were long and the weather was nice (well for Ireland anyway). That unfortunately is coming to an end; the temperatures are dropping and the days are getting shorter, so the ease of exercising will stop.
With the kids back in school again and finally having a little bit more normality and routine, it will be vital that kids keep active throughout the winter to help keep them healthy.
Physically active kids are more likely to be motivated, focused, and successful in school and exercise also helps them keep a healthy weight and a better sleep pattern; so here are a few tips to help keep the kids active throughout the winter.
Know what motivates your kids
When children enjoy an activity, they want to do more of it. There's a lot to gain from regular physical exercise, but how do you encourage children to get involved?
- Choosing the right activities for their age because if they are not interested in the activity, they may become frustrated and bored
- Children need parents to make the activity easy for them by signing them up, providing the right gear and ensuring they can get to the pitch or play area
- Aim to keep the focus on fun, as if it becomes too serious, they may not enjoy it and be less inclined do something they don't enjoy
Practicing something will improve their abilities and helps them feel accomplished, especially when the effort is noticed and praised. These positive feelings often make kids want to continue the activity and even try others.
The correct activities
The best way for children to get exercise is by incorporating it into their daily routine. Toddlers should play several times a day, children six to 17 years of age should play or exercise for an hour or more every day and that can include being active at home, in PE, and after school sports or classes.
Age based activities
Toddlers need play and exercise that helps them continue to develop important motor skills. Kicking or throwing a ball, riding a bike with stabilisers, the animal challenge or running obstacle courses.
Some sports teams allow children as young as four but organised team sports are not recommended until they're a little older.
Children in primary school are spending more time in front of screens so the job for parents is to help them find physical activities they enjoy and can excel at. These can range from GAA, football, rugby, basketball, hockey, etc.
As younger children learn basic skills and simple rules in primary school years, there might only be a few standout athletes but as children get older, differences in ability and personality become more apparent. Commitment and interest level often go along with ability and it's important to find an activity that's right for your child.
Teenagers have a lot of choices when it comes to being active, from school sports to after school activities so it is a good idea to have an exercise plan since sometimes it has to fit between school and other commitments.
Do what you can to make it easy for your teenager to exercise by helping them as best you can with transport and necessary gear or equipment. In some cases, the right clothes and footwear might help a shy teenager feel comfortable in a new activity.
Childrens’ skill levels
Along with a child's age, it's important to consider their skill level. Personalities, genetics, and athletic ability combine to influence childrens' attitudes toward participation in sports and other physical activities, especially as they get older.
There are typically three types of child:
- The nonathlete - This child may lack athletic ability, interest in physical activity, or both
- The casual athlete - This child is interested in being active but isn't a star player and is at risk of getting discouraged in a competitive environment
- The athlete - This child has athletic ability, is committed to a sport or activity, and likely to increase training and be very competitive.
If a parent has an idea of their child's temperament and fitness type, they’ll be better able to help the child find the right sports and activities and get enough exercise but most importantly, find enjoyment in physical activity.
As some children want to pursue excellence in a sport, others may be perfectly happy and fit doing it just for fun, that's why it's important to encourage children to remain active regardless of their level.