The purpose of a kindergarten gym class reaches far beyond the need for physical fitness. These classes teach a myriad of skills, including gross motor skills, self esteem, balance, coordination and teamwork. Children learn a lot through play, and a fun, educational environment can help set them up for a lifetime love of physical activity.
A kindergarten gym class should have the kids warm up their muscles before beginning any games or exercises. A few simple stretches can ready the body for more strenuous activity and help prevent injury. For a simple warm-up routine, your child might raise his hands high in the air, bend down to touch the floor and touch his toes from a seated position. Games like Simon Says might be used to incorporate stretches such as neck rolls, shoulder shrugs and hurdle stretches. Children at this age tend to be flexible, but uncoordinated, so their gym class should avoid elaborate movements or stretches like those found in yoga or Pilates.
Kindergartners are still developing their gross motor skills, like walking, running, jumping, skipping and dancing. Up to this point in life, many children have not explored a variety of direction in movement. They may have focused on moving forward, sometimes neglecting the muscles and motor skills needed for other movements. A kindergarten gym class might have your child practice walking in a straight line, in zig-zag lines, backward, sideways and even like various animals. These exercises help your child develop balance, coordination and general fitness and utilize muscle control that might be otherwise neglected.
No gym class is complete without balls. Smaller, lighter balls work best for kindergartners because the children have not yet developed the size or strength to adequately handle basketballs or soccer balls. Balls can be used to train your child in the art of throwing, catching, kicking, rolling and bouncing. Ball activities may be done individually or in groups in such classes, and your child can practice the skills at home by playing games with the family or with other children in the neighborhood. In addition to offering joy and entertainment, ball time also helps children develop coordination, strength and teamwork.
Games, Games and More Games
Games teach children the importance of good sportsmanship and the necessity of listening to and following directions -- vital skills for children just getting used to the school setting. Games suitable for kindergartners include relay races, bean bag tosses, follow the leader, tag and games involving hula hoops. Another all-time favorite is to utilize plastic cones, hula hoops, jump ropes and other materials to set up an obstacle course. Each of these activities incorporate teamwork and the use of both imagination and strategy, which are building blocks to better focus and concentration. By learning these skills early in life, your child will be better equipped to handle problems and try new things in the future.
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