Think “fun” when you pursue physical fitness activities for preschoolers. Nothing can take the joy of out exercise faster than pressuring a 3- to 5-year-old to join in activities he couldn’t care less about or worse yet, forcing your child to follow a strict exercise regime, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Being flexible will make your little athlete feel as though she has some control over what physical activities she chooses to pursue.
Spending a few minutes on the playground or tossing a pillow in the air and catching it a few times might be a fun pastime, but it won’t cut it when it comes to physical fitness for a 3- to 5-year-old. Preschoolers need a least one hour of adult-supervised activity and another 60 minutes of free play every day, reports the National Association of Sports an Physical Education. Preschoolers should spend no more than one hour at a time being sedentary unless, of course, they’re asleep.
The Newbie Preschooler
Don’t underestimate the physical prowess of a 3-year-old. Preschoolers at the young end of the spectrum are capable of flawless somersaults, riding a tricycle with support of training wheels, hopping on one foot and skipping merrily along. Fun, challenging but doable physical activities for the 3-year-old preschooler include throwing a ball — overhand no less — catching a ball and kicking a ball forward.
Family games make for good movement and good memories. Playing ball or tag with your child or or hopping along like a couple of silly rabbits will help your child improve her gross-motor skills and fine-tune her coordination. Your preschooler might quickly lose interest in walking unless you make the activity more interesting by asking her to point out the tallest tree, a flag or other objects of interest.
Starting around age 4 — although some 3-year-olds might surprise you — your preschooler might want to give hiking a try now that she’s a more experienced and competent walker. An older preschooler might pick up the pace when she realizes that running can be a lot more fun than walking and gets her where she wants to go much more quickly. Jumping rope is a joy for 4- and 5-year-olds. Some preschoolers might show an interest in swimming.
Some parents want their preschoolers to get involved in organized sports. But basic rules might be hard for the typical 4- or 5-year-old to follow and most preschoolers are not proficient at consistently catching, throwing or taking turns.
Playtime for preschoolers should provide your child with a sense of freedom. Still, an adult should always be present to watch over 3- to 5-year-old kids during physical activities to ensure they don’t suffer an injury. Preschoolers have yet to fully master balance, coordination and judgment. A child should never take her tricycle for a spin unless she’s wearing a helmet. It’s OK to sound monotonous when it comes to street safety. A preschooler often needs to be reminded time and time again not to run into the street after a ball, but to stop and look both ways before crossing the street.