The Role of Early Education in Getting Children Active

A happy little girl playing outdoors

The Role of Early Education in Getting Children Active

We all know physical activity is good for us, and by now most parents are well aware of the obesity epidemic in America, but the statistics are still stunning: one in five children are overweight by the age of 6, and more than half of obese children are overweight by age 2. It’s clear that in order to fight this epidemic and get our little ones back on track for long, healthy lives, we need to start encouraging an active lifestyle as early as we can. That’s exactly why Primrose worked with Dr. Sanders to develop our Thumbs Up! curriculum.

The Primrose Schools Thumbs Up!® curriculum incorporates structured games, skill development and free-choice play into daily classroom experiences, giving children a variety of opportunities to develop essential physical activity skills. Our weekly themes also provide a meaningful context for children to learn and practice these skills. For example, during our “Animals from Around the World” theme, children play on an obstacle course called Animal Pathways. As they go through the course, the children travel the pathways as different animals – flying like an eagle, jumping like a kangaroo, creeping like a cat, stomping like an elephant, running like a cheetah and tip-toeing like a mouse. And each Thumbs Up! lesson always ends with a “cool down” that includes yoga poses, deep breathing and relaxation exercises.

Thumbs Up! follows the highest standards for developmentally-appropriate activities as recommended by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education and the Council for Physical Education for Children. The Thumbs Up! curriculum helps children develop and learn:

  • Walking, running, skipping, jumping and other traveling skills;
  • Throwing, catching, kicking and other motor skills;
  • Stability and balance skills; and
  • Spatial awareness and how to move around safely in a play environment.

As Dr. Sanders mentioned, honing these skills early is imperative to making physical activity a lifelong habit for children. And more than just fostering a healthy lifestyle, physical activity also can help children learn important life skills, like decision-making, problem-solving, creativity and self-control. Research continues to find compelling evidence of the benefits of getting children active – from health advantages to developmental and even cognitive benefits. 

As a grandmother, nothing is more important than my granddaughter getting the foundation she needs to lead a healthy, successful life. The habits of young children are shaped by those around them, which includes parents and family members as well as care givers and teachers. Most of us at Primrose are parents and grandparents ourselves, and we recognize the important roles we play in helping children develop healthy behaviors. That’s why we developed our Healthy Bodies program, which encompasses lessons, tools and parent resources to help get young children excited for healthy living early on. 

Our Thumbs Up! curriculum is an important part of our Healthy Bodies program, as physical activity is essential to developing a healthy lifestyle. Balanced nutrition also plays an important role. Stay tuned next month when we’ll be focusing on all things nutrition and how you can engage your child in healthy eating! 

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