Students practicing physical activity for kids at Primrose on the playground

Building Healthy Habits for Young Kids

Children who participate in physical education programs are likely to become active, healthy adults. At Primrose, we encourage a variety of physical activities for kids through our Thumbs Up!®program. Every day, we help young children of all ages practice physical development skills that help them nurture healthy bodies, lasting habits and self-confidence.

Reinforce these skills at any age with ideas to instill healthy habits for kids from early childhood physical education expert Dr. Steve Sanders:

Infants

Even babies can benefit from – and enjoy – physical activity! Starting at 6 weeks old, infants should begin simple exercises to stimulate reflexes and strengthen muscles.  

At Primrose, teachers use “Tummy Time” to help infants engage in fun and productive movements, building on their progress each day.

Try these activities at home to increase your baby’s strength and coordination:

  • Pull and Extend: Lay your baby on her back and place your index fingers in her palms. When she grasps your fingers, gently pull her toward you to extend her arms. Slip your fingers out of her grasp so her arms return to their natural position. Repeat this movement 2-4 times daily. As she gets older, build on the activity by drawing her arms overhead and pulling her slowly to a seated position or up to standing.
  • Blowing Bubbles: With your baby propped up on a pillow, gently blow bubbles around him from different angles. Help him anticipate the bubbles by saying, “Ready, Set, Blow!” As he gets older, he’ll try to catch the bubbles. When he can cruise or pull to stand, going after the bubbles will help him learn how to shift his weight and prepare for walking.

Toddlers

Playtime is especially important for toddlers. They develop foundational skills like coordination and balance through jumping, kicking, throwing and rolling. In Primrose classrooms, teachers provide physical activities for kids to explore their environment and play with toys, giving them the freedom to find their own way of completing tasks.  

Objects your child can balance and throw, like soft, foam blocks, are great to keep around the house to help your teetering toddler practice balance and strength. Try these activities at home:

  • Block Balance: Give your child a soft block to balance on different body parts. Ask questions like, “Can you balance your block on your head? On your shoulder? On your knee? On your foot?” This exercise not only strengthens her balance and focus, but also helps her memory as she learns the names of body parts.
  • Lift and Toss: Place several foam blocks on the ground in front of your child and spread several small boxes or baskets around the room. Model how to pick the blocks up and toss them into the containers. When all the blocks are in the baskets, help him empty them and start again.

Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten

The Primrose Thumbs Up! curriculum focuses on more complex physical activities for kids in Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten, refining agility and motor skills through running, skipping, catching, volleying and dribbling. Teachers give cues to help children perfect the mechanics of their movements.

Use these tips to help your child practice proper form at home:

  • Best Foot Forward: As your child learns to throw a ball, gentle cues can help prepare her for sports teams. If she is right-handed, encourage her to step forward with her left foot and release the ball. If she’s left-handed, she’ll use her right foot.
  • Find Your Center: Remind your little one of helpful movements to improve his balance. For example, when he’s walking across a balance beam, holding his arms out straight from the sides of his body will improve his stability.

Kindergarten and Beyond

As your child becomes more mobile and masters the ability to run, skip, throw and catch, there are many activities you can do together to keep active, preparing her for healthy habits throughout her school years.  

If your child isn’t quite ready for organized sports, try these activities at home:

  • DIY Obstacle Course: Create an obstacle course together. Some ideas include: chairs to crawl around or under, pillows along the course to crawl over, a cardboard box tunnel or a stomach slide through a doorway. Get creative!
  • Balance as animals: Balance bean bags or similar items on different body parts and move like an animal while balancing them. For example, ask, “can you move like a tiger while balancing the bean bag on your back?”

Every day is an opportunity to help your child develop a healthy and balanced body, and it’s never too early to get started! For more helpful tips, visit the Pointers for Parents blog, or to learn how Primrose nurtures healthy habits for kids, explore our Balanced Learning® approach.