Does your child seem to lack the strength to hold on to overhead bars or pulling himself up when climbing?
Does the day just seem too long for your child and he/she is exhausted by the end?
When going up stairs, does your child seem to use to hand rails to pull himself/herself up?
What is going on? While there can be numerous reasons for these scenarios, two areas to think about are strength and endurance.
While strength is the amount of muscle used to accomplish a task, we need a certain amount of it just to resist gravity as we move and play. Endurance comes in handy as we persist with a task and see it through, from start to finish.
To refresh your memory, we start here to “pick up” your child’s muscle tone before play begins. Having this muscle tone boost makes it easier (and lots more fun) to do activities that require muscle strength and endurance. In our experience, the effect lasts about 15 minutes, so it may be a good idea to return to swinging a few times during your playtime at the park. This will keep your child charged up and ready for strength challenges.
So far, we’ve shown you movement activities with your child sitting up. For a little variety, here are some ideas in other positions. Heads up though (no pun intended!), moving while laying down can feel faster, so start slow unless you already know your child’s need for speed!
We’ve arranged the following videos in order of level of difficulty to match your child’s skill level. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure to tell you why some are harder than others.
We call this level one because this little cutie only needs to hold herself up on the scooter board for the short burst of movement.
Notice this little guy has a longer ride, which requires strength to hold himself up. The longer ride also challenges his endurance for holding this position for the duration of the adventure.
Holding her arms out and gripping the handles requires the most strength and endurance as she is pulled along.
Consider this the Olympic level of strength and endurance activities! Not only does this game require sustained muscle strength, it taps into strategy, concentration, and occasional laughter. The other difference here is that your child is constantly moving his/her body to block and shoot the puck/ball/anything else that rolls. This means he is fighting gravity and building endurance.
Ok, time for a quick muscle tone check! If your child is looking like a limp noodle at this point, head back to the swings or the slide for a muscle tone tune-up.
Hanging and climbing
Hanging and climbing are always great for building strength and endurance. The strength needed for these activities builds muscles that influence posture, sports participation, even providing a foundation for handwriting and fine motor activities. It’s a win-win!
This is a simple grip strength activity. Count together to see how long your child can hold on. If the bars are at an appropriate height, place a ball on the ground so your child can hang and kick the ball away.
Notice how this little girl is using her hands, arms, core, and legs to get her up that slide! What a workout! Place an object at the top to tag or grab and let your child celebrate the accomplishment with a ride on the way down! (Here’s a few more slide ideas, while we’re on the topic!)
As promised, we’re throwing in some activities for home and school to help move these strength and endurance skills along.
- Pedaling a bike up a hill
- Pushing or pulling another child in a wagon or on a scooter board
- Crab soccer
- Wheelbarrow walk
- Helping carry groceries
- Chair push-ups – this is a great example, brought to you by OT Mom!
- Teacher’s helper returning books to library or moving desks
Taking the time to build strong foundations of muscle tone, strength and endurance with your child will move them forward in countless exciting ways! Lauren from The Inspired Treehouse has brainstormed some of her own Playground Games and Activities for Kids that are sure to inspire FUN and development during your next playground trip as well! Definitely check them out!
So grab your kids and head to the park!
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