Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: having fun

Which Toys Can Help With Physical Development?

contributed article

photo above: Fun with friends. Image source

Living in a digital age puts a lot of pressure on parents to help their children develop safe and effective online skills. Coding is the new hot subject at many schools. Kids seem to know more about the world thanks to the explosion of easy-to-access information out there. But aren’t we forgetting something? All that time spent in front of a screen used to be the time we spent out in the backyard when we were kids. Will the children of today struggle with physical development?

There are plenty of great (better than when we were kids) toys out there that can be used to help your little one physically develop. Most children are naturally active; so if you have something they can ride or kick or throw, they’ll be keen to use it. In fact, many of these toys can help them develop mentally and emotionally as well. For example, a fast-moving ball is heading in a particular direction. Your child has to recognize that and predict where it will end up to reach it in time. In many activities, teamwork plays a big part here, too, helping to develop friendships and cooperation.

 

From the moment they can walk, you can provide a wealth of different toys to help your little one improve their balance. A good trike for a 3-year-old can help a child develop pedaling skills too. Steering needs to be practiced and can be learned by trial and error. What’s really great about kids moving on wheels is the role play that can go with it. As an example, children can become mailmen and bring you a parcel!

Once your children have mastered the art of pedaling and balancing, they might be ready for a proper bicycle. Cycling together is a fun way for the family to spend time together. It keeps you all fit and develops balance well, too. Best of all, it helps to tone every part of the legs!

Trampolines are excellent for developing strong core muscles and leg strength. Recognizing the relationship between effort and result is important here. Bouncing around is a lot of fun for children, and this activity burns a lot of calories too! Bouncing on a Pogo stick requires balance as well as strength and coordination to bounce. Of course, a space hopper might be an easier place to start!

Have you ever used a swingball set? This is tennis for a small place. It can be played with two people or practiced alone. Either way, it can be lots of fun and a great way to spend more time with the kids. Best of all, it hones the hand-eye coordination and builds strength in the arms. To build strength in both arms, a child can play on some monkey-bars or use a climbing frame in the garden. If you’re nervous about your child climbing, layout some play mats underneath.  Toys in the garden that help your child to increase their physical activity can be great for physical development too. You don’t need a lot of room, although you might need to supervise quite closely!

What do you get up to with your kids in the backyard?

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Having Fun With Your Kids

Say what? Why is having fun important? Besides providing meals, clothing, shelter, and education plus taking our kids to the dentist, doctor, and school, we should also have fun? Yes!

This post is inspired by our activities over the weekend and my subsequent thoughts. I’m being a little silly because of course, you know that having fun with your children is important. But let’s also be realistic–a lot of parenting is not fun. Even the things kids think are fun, like children’s museums, playgrounds, cartoons, are not fun for the parents–not really anyway. 🙂 You probably wouldn’t choose to go to the pumpkin patch with  face painting and bouncy houses if it weren’t for your kids. That’s all I’m saying.

Katie just before BINGO

But on Saturday and more and more, Katie and I are finding activities that we both enjoy, that we both have fun with, and that we are doing together.

I was thinking about how much parents adore and treasure those little newborn babies up until they can walk and talk and have to be entertained. Then there are a lot of parenting challenges to face every day–potty training, tantrums, 3 meals a day, bath, fights over bedtime, etc. But at 6,  I feel Katie is the most fun ever because now she can participate in activities that I actually enjoy, and we can do them together. Over the weekend, we played…B-I-N-G-O.

We were at a small festival for our community, and one of the activities was Bingo. I might not have encouraged her to play if it wouldn’t have been so hot outside; but because it was, and I wanted a break from the heat, we wandered into the school and found ourselves in a Bingo game with prizes–food prizes, like popcorn, candy, potato chips, cake mixes, and more.  What fun! We laughed; Katie almost cried until she won a game; we smiled; we got excited; we made jokes. We enjoyed ourselves–both of us.

This has happened a few other times this summer, where we were both engaged in what we were doing, and it wasn’t just me the parent watching her the kid doing something.

I encourage you, especially if you are a parent of an elementary school -aged kid or above, to find those activities for your family right now, too. Maybe it’s a mutual game you like to play. Maybe it’s a painting class. Maybe it’s a show on television (we also love to watch Masterchef).

And I know it doesn’t seem possible to love your child any more than you did when he or she first was born. But I swear, I love her more and more every day. I just love her little personality, the way she looks at the world, her hopes and dreams, her creativity, and it makes me excited as a parent, which is what gets us through all the times when we are wondering how we will ever manage to do this parenting gig.

What activities do you enjoy doing with your child?

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