Who can remember coming home from school in the afternoon, tearing off your uniform and pulling on your old shorts and t-shirt before racing straight out into the backyard? Maybe you chased your dog around the garden. Maybe you climbed the old gum tree or spent hours swinging back and forth on the tyre swing you and your dad built together. In the summer, you might have had a swimming pool to splash around in, or perhaps you just turned on the sprinklers and made a mad dash through the falling water in your swimmers.

These days though, kids have so many indoor options. There’s all the different games consoles: Playstation, X Box, Wii. There’s ipads, ipods and Nintendo DS. There’s an abundance of television stations – including channels dedicated just for kids (and that’s just on the free-to-air channels, don’t even get me started on Foxtel). Kids have their own mobile phone, their own laptop, their own digital world in which to lose themselves.

Evidence shows that preschool children need sixty minutes of unstructured play each day along with another sixty minutes of planned physical activity. That’s a total of two hours that your kids should spend moving. And according to Nutrition Australia, older children (5-12 years) should participate in “at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day; and not more than two hours screen time (television, computer or electronic games) a day.” Nutrition Australia also points out that in Australia, 23% of children are overweight or obese.

So how do you draw them away from the screens and out into the sunlight?
Here are a few tips to help you get your kids moving:

  • Involve your children in a regular team sport. Let them choose something that they find interesting or exciting, you don’t want them to become resentful and form a negative attitude towards sports. Think about swimming, netball, soccer, dancing, tennis or countless other options.
  • Are you involved in any team sports yourself? If not, maybe think about it, your partner could bring the kids along to watch mum or dad play cricket, netball, indoor soccer etc. and that way, your children will see how great it is for you too.
  • Set up limitations to their ‘screen time’. If you’re having troubles getting your kids to agree to these rules, perhaps involve them in the process. Get them to help you draw up a chart that shows the breakdown of time that they are allowed to spend watching television or using the computer.
  • Get outside and play with them! Take a walk to the park, play a game together – you can incorporate imaginative play here too, with role-play games and activities – you can be pirates, aliens, princesses and knights – anything you want to be!
  • If you can’t make it outdoors due to weather restrictions, there’s indoor options too. Kid’s fitness DVD’s are available that you and your children can follow along together. You could practice some yoga together, or just put on some music and dance!
  • If you’re handy – maybe you and the kids could build something together in the back yard – whether it be a tree-house, a cubby house or a home-made swing.
  • Once in a while, do something different. On a sunny weekend, drive to the beach and throw a Frisbee, head to a park to fly a kite or take the family on a bush walk. On a rainy day, there’s always an aquatic centre or an indoor playland.

Hopefully these ideas will help to get your kids excited about heading outdoors and being active, and remember, a GrowFit Preschool Fitness Program is always a great option for your preschool or child care centre as the perfect way to get your children moving!

– Mike Searson
GrowFit Director