Your 5-year-old should be getting at least one hour of structured physical activity and one hour of unstructured active play every day, according to the National Association of Sports and Physical Education. This may sound like a lot to you in your adult years, but the average 5-year-old has a natural urge to play without the need for expensive exercise equipment. Simply give him plenty of opportunities to play off his energy, and he will easily meet his recommended daily minimum exercise goal.
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Your 5-year-old is still refining her ability to skip, jump forward, hop and balance on a foot, according to KidsHealth.org. Set up a creative outdoor obstacle course that promotes your child’s use of these gross motor skills. For example, you could place shoeboxes on the ground for her to jump over, make a box tunnel for her to crawl through, place a ladder flat on the ground and tell her to walk over each rung, encourage her to stand on one foot for five seconds when she reaches the tree at the end of the yard and encourage her to skip back to you. Indoor obstacle courses also work; use objects such as step stools, chairs and tables but keep hopping and skipping to a minimum if you’re short on space.
Catching, Throwing and Kicking
If your child is like the average 5-year-old, he isn’t ready for organized sports because he hasn’t yet mastered basic skills such as catching, throwing, turn taking and rule following. However, if your child expresses interest and your doctor thinks your child is ready, you may sign your child up for a peewee league that is specially set up for a low-pressure learning experience, according to KidsHealth.org. Whether or not your child is on any sort of team, you will encourage exercise and help your child develop the skills he will need later by playing ball with him. Toss or kick a ball back and forth, use a net or other round hoop to shoot baskets or set up oatmeal boxes or 2-liter soda bottles for a homemade bowling game.
Your 5-year-old has an active imagination, so encourage active imagination games. Tell her you’re going to play the “zoo animals” game and ask her to hop like a bunny, crawl like a tiger, run like a cheetah and fly like an eagle, recommends the Lancaster General Health website. Bring in book themes for more ideas. For example, “Babar’s Yoga for Elephants” by Laurent de Brunhoff is a playful yoga guide for kids and elephants alike. Work together to perfect your poses.
Simple Rule-Following Games
Although your 5-year-old may not be able to follow complex rules, you will help him practice basic rule-following skills and promote exercise by introducing him to active rule-based games. Think back to your favorite childhood games, such as hide and seek, Simon says, follow the leader and duck-duck-goose, and don’t hesitate to make each game silly and fun. Everyday activities can transform into active games with 5-year-old kids, according to the KidsExercise website. For instance, enthusiastically tell your child that you will time him to see how quickly he can pick up his train set and put on his pajamas.