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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Gail Troussoff Marks
Games, Toys, and Physical Play
Silver Stars Gymnastics

Games, Toys, and Physical Play

Play creates the optimallearning environment for children. Games and toys spur the imagination and the desire to get involved. Full participation in an activity increases the brains involvement.Adding physical activityinto play givesthe child opportunities to develop motorskills in conjunction with neurological development. This neuro-motor training builds cognitive, social, physical, and emotional skills.
The cognitive abilities of a child are tapped as they think about how to use a toy or play a game. If there are other children playing with the toy or in the game, or merely observing, then social interaction becomes part of the scene. Toys and games may call for fine motor skills or, as in ball games, gross motor skills. Motor planning is purposeful movement, in other words, making your body move to do what you want it to do. The hand-eye coordination used in throwing or catching a ball is motor planning, as is pushing a truck or moving a dolls arm. Games and physical play can also enhance coordination, which is a combination of balance, timing and muscular control.
Classic activities and games such as hopscotch, hula hoop, and jump rope are ways to bring more activity into your childs life. These require a relatively small space and can be used indoors and outdoors. Another benefit is that you dont have to get in the car and drive; you can do this at home. Basic hopscotch courts can be made indoors with masking tape on the floor or rug or drawn on pavement outdoors with sidewalk chalk. Hopscotch can be played as a game or merely used to practice hopping on one foot, two feet together or straddle. Jump ropes can also have multiple uses. Try wiggling the rope on the ground like a snake and have your child jump back and forth over it. Two adults or kids can pull the rope taut and create a limbo “stick.”
Physical fitness for children should not be thought of in adult terms of reps or exercise to fatigue. Instead kids should be playing, using all their muscle groups, and having fun. Movement is an integral part of life and confident kids have developed body awareness. Gymnastics classes provide a great venue for using all those muscles and helping children gain playground skills. Gymnastics, like the best toys, involves equipment that can be thought of in different ways. A balance beam is a log over a stream, a curb or a fence. Bars can be tree limbs. Mats are like giant building blocks that kids can roll down, climb over, and crawl under. Trampoline provides even more fun than jumping on the bed. Grasping the imagination of a young child with toys to step over on the balance beam can transform a timid child into one who will eagerly and confidently walk down the balance beam.
To promote your childs development and instill healthy lifestyle habits, find multiple opportunities for physical play. Invest in toys that weave together play, imagination, and movement and your child will be content for hours. Toys that a child can use multiple ways bring lasting enjoyment, as well as, developing the neurological and motor systems.

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