Keeping Your Child Active this Winter
GETTING YOUR CHILD STRONGER BY THE DAY WITH WINTER PLAY
…How to help your child have fun and make good gross motor gains over the winter months.
As winter comes upon us, and as the cold weather hits, a general desire to “cocoon” ourselves and our children presides. There is an easy contentedness that comes with staying indoors, sipping warm drinks, and thinking about the holiday season. Thoughts of getting yourself and your little one out for exercise can be dominated by the realities of heavy snowsuits, winter boots, icy roads, and getting a forever growing toddler in and out of a car seat. Just trying to get out of the house can become a major sweat fest for everyone involved!
Despite these challenges, we must remember that it is important for everyone’s mental and physical health to move, and socialize with others. Social play in a gross motor setting is great for our little ones, and watching them have fun while developing their gross motor skills can be very relaxing for us too! So, when outdoor play is not an option, how think about creating an environment for gross motor and social play in your life over the winter? Here are some suggestions:
Consider creating a gross motor play area in your home. This need not be an expensive prospect.
- Soft springy low mattresses and old pillows provide cushioned and uneven surfaces to climb on and encourage balance, strength and jumping.
- Balls or stuffed animals are good objects for rolling and for starting preliminary throwing and catching and kicking.
- Cardboard boxes are great for climbing into and out of and make great “trains” to push or pull around. This promotes general balanced and core (trunk) strength.
- Old sheets can be made into tents and forts, again good for climbing into and out of. They can also be used for makeshift parachute games to develop balance and arm strength.
- Mount black boards, white boards, or rolls of paper to the wall and provide art materials. Pulling to stand and standing with wall support only is nice for hip strength and a great pre-walking exercise.
- Ensure that there are no sharp corners near the area, or cover them with dense foam or another protective material.
- Remove expensive lamps or vases from the area, as they are sure to become victims of the good fun!
- Play lots of music that you enjoy and that you think your child might enjoy. Music has a way of making us want to move!
- Invite another parent and toddler over, and make your own social event!
If you are one of the brave souls willing to load the kids up into the car, snowsuits and all, there are lots of non-programmed destinations you can head to that are warm and that provide an area to move or run when our homes start to feel very small and cramped. Some suggestions are:
- Find a warm pool. Some suggestions that I have heard parents mention are VRRI, and Killarney. If you have any other locations to suggest, please share it with other parents in your class.
- Indoor malls are a nice place to stroll, walk, and they sometimes have play places for your child during the winter months.
- Many private businesses now cater to parents and their children by offering a play space for children, and a somewhat social setting for parents to have coffee, etc. Usually these settings offer low climbing structures, mats, balls, and riding toys that are all attractive to children and give the child a chance to encounter new toys that you may not have in your home.
Have fun and stay warm!!]]>