When it comes to academics, Singapore students dominate, taking the second spot in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). In case you didn’t know, this is a global programme that tests students’ science, reading, and mathematics knowledge.
However, in terms of physical activity, the country scored a disappointing C- in the first Singapore Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Adolescents. Despite the country’s modern infrastructure that supports fitness, as well as government-initiated programmes that encourage physical activities, children would rather be glued to their screens, as shown in the report Evidence Review of Screen Use in Childhood conducted by the National University of Singapore.
Fortunately, parents can still turn this trend around and encourage their children to foster a love for physical activities. Here are just some of the approaches you can try with your kids.
Focus on Age-Appropriate Activities
One of the key strategies in developing a child’s interest in physical activity is tailoring activities to the child’s age and developmental stage. Younger children may benefit from activities that focus on basic motor skills, such as crawling, jumping, and balancing. However, a pre-schooler may not be old enough for high-impact exercises or running long distances.
As children grow, more complex activities like sports and organized games become suitable. That said, striking a balance between structured and unstructured activities is crucial. During structured activities like parlour games and sports, children learn to follow rules and cooperate with their team. In contrast, unstructured activities like playtime teach kids to use their imagination and creativity.
Let Your Child Choose the Activities They Want to Do
Empowering children to choose the activities they engage in can significantly contribute to developing a genuine love for physical activities. Moreover, allowing them a say in the matter fosters a sense of ownership and enthusiasm.
While gentle guidance is important, giving children the freedom to explore various activities ensures a diversity in physical pursuitsthat will cater to their interests and preferences. This also means, perhaps, letting go of activities they are not interested in, such as certain sports that the parents were hoping their kids would excel at.
Schedule Physical Activities
In Singapore, the daily routine for a family may involve structured schedules to accommodate children’s different activities. This may mean setting up play dates with other families and making time for walks and playground activities. Moreover, to reinforce your child’s interest in physical activities beyond the home, you have to choose schools that share the same views.
In preschools, structured wellness programmes are often included in children’s curriculum. For example Kinderland, which operates several campuses in the city, has incorporated the Kinderfit programme into its curriculum. This structured wellness programme follows Rudolph Laban’s movement-based framework and Dr. Charles T. Kuntzleman’s Feelin’ Good cardiovascular programme, both of which emphasize the importance of physical activities in holistic wellness. How effective is this fitness programme? See what parents say about Kinderland, and catch Kinderland on YouTube to see the kids in action.
Make Physical Activities a Family Affair
Fostering a love for physical activities is not only an individual endeavour but also a family affair. Family involvement is key to creating a supportive and encouraging environment. Within the safety of the family unit, children will be more confident about trying out different physical activities
Family-friendly activities such as nature walks, cycling, or even simple home workouts can provide quality bonding time while promoting fitness. What’s more, making physical activity a regular part of family routines establishes healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
Be a Role Model for Your Child
Parents play a vital role in shaping their children’s attitudes and behaviours, including their approach to physical activities. In addition, leading by example through living an active lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to inspire children. Whether it’s through a weekend hike, a family bike ride, or even a shared interest in a sport, parents can positively influence their children’s perception of physical activities through their own actions.
Provide Fun Toys and Items that Encourage Physical Activities
Toys can be powerful tools in promoting physical activities among children. That’s why choosing toys that engage them in active play is essential. Items like balls, hula hoops, or even simple outdoor equipment can turn playtime into an opportunity for exercise.
The key is to align the toys with the child’s interests. This ensures that they find joy and excitement in staying active. For instance, if they love to jump, they may be ecstatic to receive their very own trampoline. Likewise, if they are natural explorers, they may appreciate a bike that’s built for their age. So, make sure you’re buying the right toys for your child to encourage their interest in accomplishing these activities.
Nurturing a love for physical activity in children requires a holistic approach that considers their age, preferences, and the family environment. Through the approaches mentioned in this article, children can develop a genuine love for physical activities and an interest in health and fitness at an early age. Instilling these values will not only benefit an individual but also contribute to a generation that cherishes the joy of movement and embraces a healthier future.