Does winter give you “the blues”? Are you less active in the winter than during warmer months? If so, we have some ideas to help you and your child stay active during the cold winter months.
Finding opportunities for physical movement during winter in Illinois can be difficult, but there are many benefits to staying active for both you and your child. Movement keeps adults healthy, both body and mind. The same is true for children. Movement activities can help children strengthen their relationship with you, develop strength and coordination, gain independence, and build confidence.
Bundle Up and Go for a Walk
The more technology we use, such as iPads, phones, and TVs, the more we need nature! Whether you live in a city or on several acres of land, nature is everywhere. When the weather allows, bundle up your little one and go outside for a walk together in your neighborhood, to the park, or at a nature preserve.
There are so many things to talk about and experience, such as how the wind feels on your face, the sounds of the passing cars or barking dogs, the feeling of walking on the hard pavement and the uneven ground, and how the snow feels and looks falling from the sky.
This is a great way for you and your child to exercise, take in the sensory experiences nature has to offer, and spend time together. Plus, being in nature can improve well-being!
If it is too cold to go outside, stay inside and move!
Have a Dance Party
Turn up your favorite tunes and have a dance party with your kiddo! Dancing is a great activity for your heart, coordination, and balance, and it can improve mood. Plus it is fun! First see how your child moves their body on their own to the music, then imitate their movements, sounds, and/or words.
See how many times you can copy each other! Did you know that imitating each other is an important skill for developing language? You can also pick up your child, hold them closely, and dance together. Sing along, clap your hands, and move your body to match the song, moving fast and slowly. Be silly and laugh together; laughter can help relieve stress and burn calories!
Pretend and Move Together
When sharing books or playing together, use your imagination and pretend to move like the objects you see in books or like your toddler’s toys. For example, trot like a horse, stretch out like a starfish, waddle like a duck, jump like a kangaroo, zoom around the room like a race car, or roll like a cement mixer.
Pretend play helps to develop empathy because your child is “putting themselves in someone else’s shoes” by acting like others. And, when your child pretends and moves, they are practicing taking turns, developing their understanding of words, using their imaginations, strengthening their muscles, and balancing and coordinating their bodies! Plus, you’re moving and exercising without having to go to the gym!
Talk with your EI team about how you can individualize these activities for your child. This winter, try to move with your child indoors or outdoors every day, even for just a few minutes at a time. It adds up over the course of the day!
Originally written for the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse Newsletter: Winter 2021