Starting Your Child on a Lifelong Fitness Adventure during Ages 2 to 5 - "building block" Years

Being physically active is one of the most important things your child can do to stay healthy when he or she grows up. Children are born with a love of movement. Parents need to foster social, intellectual and physical development of children during ages 2 to 5 - "building block" years. By age 2, your child should be able to jump with both feet, bend, and run. By age 3, your child should be able to change directions (from left to right, from forward to backward) comfortably. Two- and 3-year-olds thrive on unstructured play and they are not developmentally ready to play in organized sports or to be involved in competitive activities. Four- and 5-year-olds can roll large balls, play catch, and may be able to navigate a bike with training wheels. Other activities your child may enjoy and help keep him/her healthy and fit, include dance, gymnastics or swimming. Kids in this age group are learning to play in an increasingly coordinated manner and can begin to participate in some organized games. Six- and 7-year olds can perform most gross motor skill and they are capable to execute two skills concurrently (e.g. running and catching).

Between the ages of 2 and 7 years, the movement capabilities of children enter a period of acceleration. This is the time when 'children lay the foundations for a lifetime of movement' (Bailey 2000, p.78). The skills learned during this time lay a solid foundation for grasping more complicated sports and activities, and gradually working up to increased levels of strength, flexibility and endurance. Learning the basics will help your child experience success later on. When kids learn to love movement, fitness becomes a part of their lives. If children can keep up an exercise habit, then they can excel in other areas of their lives. According to experts, the seeds of a healthy, active life usually are planted in the youngest years.


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