Believe it or not, movements such as climbing, are essential to cognitive functioning. Movement integrates new information and experiences into children’s brains. Children not only build their brains when they are moving, but they build the muscles they need to sit in a chair and write. Allowing children time to engage in unstructured play is essential to their development. When a child is playing, they are producing endorphins (brain chemicals that make us happy). Thus, unstructured play develops your child’s muscles, sensory systems, and their brains, making it the foundation that complex learning is built on.
Here are a few activities that are full of therapeutic benefits and easy to fit into your child’s day:
- Swinging. Swinging is not only relaxing, but it builds core strength and motor coordination. When your child spins in a swing they are engaging different parts of the brain at the same time. These areas in the brain are associated with learning skills such as spatial awareness, rhythm, timing, balance, and muscle control.
- Climbing. When children are climbing, they are stretching their arms upwards, which enhances cardiovascular flow and flexibility. Additionally, climbing builds upper body strength and coordination
- Running. Running builds strength in the legs, endurance, and provides sensory input.
With screen time and school taking time away from unstructured play, children do not have as much time to engage in healthy movement activities. This is detrimental to their development and learning. It is important to try to spend at least an hour a day letting children engage in movement-based activities. If possible, give them time to engage in unstructured play, this allows them to seek out the movement their bodies need, which is a form of self-regulation.
At Mindful Child, we allow unstructured play in our aerial hammocks for at least 15 minutes of every aerial yoga class. Children are able to climb, spin, and swing in our hammocks, providing them the movement their bodies and brains need for healthy development.