The Benefits of Getting Kids Active
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The Benefits of Getting Kids Active

It is so important that kids are happy and healthy and one of the easiest ways to do this is to get them active!
We spoke with Tanya Ricketts from Sesame Lane about how we can encourage kids to get active and the short and long term benefits this has on their mental and physical well-being.

How do you encourage children to be ‘Happy Healthy Learners’ at Sesame Lane?

We support children to take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical well-being by providing them with challenging environments and programs where they can meet their needs. Children are Happy Healthy Learners in environments that they feel safe, are having fun, feel autonomous, and are connected with a sense of achievement over their accomplishments. Part of being a Happy Healthy Learner is understanding; which foods to choose to make our bodies healthy, and then learning about how those foods are grown or farmed.

What does being a ‘Happy, Healthy, Learner’ look like?

Children love to play and be active. We embrace children’s intrinsic motivation to play and be active, and through well thought out programs and environments, the Happy, Healthy Learner at Sesame Lane looks like, a child who displays a strong sense of well-being. This Happy, Healthy Learner shows resilience, joy, autonomy, self-competence, and a sense of self-worth.

How would you encourage kids to get active?

• Choose activities your child likes and that are fun.

• Make sure there's lots of variety and your child tries different things.

• Build physical activity into your child's day – for example, by walking to school, washing the car or helping in the garden. Consistency with routine aspects of getting active develops a sense of security and forms positive habits.

• Where possible, provide opportunities for children choice over when, where and how they get active

• Be active yourself and involve the whole family, children seek connection to others and this sense of belonging also supports their self worth.

What can parents do to be a part of their children’s active lifestyles?

Be a role model! Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.

Find things you can do every day, like encouraging your children to participate in active chores such as raking leaves, pulling weeds, watering plants, sweeping or cleaning. Make the chores feel fun with upbeat music and be sure to join in to get them done as a family.

In your professional opinion, what are the health benefits of getting kids involved in sport or physical activities from a young age?

There are so many health benefits from giving children opportunities to be active. This doesn’t have to be within structured sports however, it can be in anything from bike riding, to going to the park, to jumping on the trampoline. Being part of a team sport has the added benefit of filling the child’s need for connection to others and mastering specific skills required for different sports. One of the key aspects is that we are mindful of the importance of children being active and enjoying what they do, quite often this happens most in unstructured self-directed play time and giving them large chunks of uninterrupted opportunities for this gold!

In your professional opinion, how does being active affect a child’s mental well-being?

Physical activity is directly linked to mental health and well-being. Most aspects of physical activity support healthy brain development and in the early years of a child’s life this is one of the key determining factors. For young children, they need to move, swing, jump, run, and generally be super active, not just because of their physical development and their muscles, but because this activity is like super food for a child’s brain and is essential for a child’s mental well-being and growth.

What positive changes does being active/being involved in a team sport/ having an outlet have on children who struggle with behavioural issues?

We know that any behaviour in a child is fulfilling a need. These needs are essential for the growth and development of any child. Children are genetically driven to fill those needs and want to learn skills as to how to do this. Teaching children ways of being active fills many of their needs and therefore they gain skills to do this in considerate and cooperative ways. Being involved in sport or other activities supports the behavioural learning that is needed for a child’s development.

What would be your top 3 tips for parents looking to run J2J with their children?

1. Have achievable expectations. If your child is under 6, it’s a good idea to bring a stroller or trolley for them to have a break from walking. You will all enjoy the race a lot more if you’re prepared when those little legs get tired.

2. Practice makes perfect, so leading up to race day, start training and make sure your child knows what you’re training for. Remember to make it fun!

3. Be a team; bring in some team spirit and fun by dressing up or wearing matching outfits to pump up the fun and team spirit.