John F. Kennedy, Ex- President of the U.S.A, once said, “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”
During this age (2 to 5 years), children acquire a number of skills. A child who was dependent on his parents for everything gradually starts taking small steps towards being independent. He wants to explore a world of his own. Development of physical skills takes place at a greater pace in the early years. Physical dexterity is attained by children through mobility and persistent effort.
The growing independence and the fun derived from the child’s discoveries make this period of life very exciting for the child. During this phase, the gross motor skills and fine motor skills develop at a faster pace. As a result, the child can easily walk, run, climb, jump, hop and skip.
Physical achievements in the initial phase (2-3 years):
- Learns to walk without support
- Walks, stops and turns
- Can run, squat and kick
- Can climb low lying furniture
- Can walk up and down the stairs
- Can use hands and tools efficiently
- Can dig sand pits
- Can kick a ball
A child, who has mastered the art of walking without any support, develops the confidence of running. During this phase, the child starts enjoying swings and slides. It is worth introducing a ball at this stage. At first, there is little eye-hand co-ordination but it improves gradually with practice.
The toddlers at this stage start climbing, running, jumping and other physical activities as well. All through these developments, their muscles get strengthened and coordinated. The ability to squat down and pick up something develops due to increased strength and flexibility in hip and knee joints.
The fine motor skills developed in this period enable the use of hands and tools efficiently. The child can now comfortably carry out activities like digging a pit, scribbling, or banging a drum.
Physical achievements in later phase (3-5 years):
During this phase, language skills develop tremendously opening up a whole new world of communication for the child. Most children in this stage can:
- Walk quickly and carry toys in their hands
- Walk up the stairs using alternate feet.
- Jump, hop and skip
- Pedal a tricycle
- Hold a pencil
- Flip the pages of a book
- Draw and Scribble
The ability to concentrate improves imagination and observation, helping the child to draw or solve puzzles. During this stage, the child should be given the opportunities to explore his potential. This will help him in building greater physical and mental strength.
Towards the latter part of this phase, all forms of exercises not only help the child in spatial understanding but also help in achieving the coordination skills. Physical activity not only helps the child remain physically fit but also enhances their creativity and intelligence quotient. A child should be involved in different physical activities to achieve a balanced growth at this stage.