I am certain that if I recorded all the things I say to the children in a day and then tallied up how often I repeat phrases ‘walk’ would top the list. A distant second would be ‘stop’ followed closely by ‘down’. All my most common instructions pertain to redirecting activity level.
The list would of course be far different if I made separate lists for ‘outdoor’ phrases and ‘indoor’ phrases. Only when we are indoors is there a need to restrict the children’s running, jumping and climbing. It is not the activity that is wrong – it is the activity within a small, confined space with many other people.
Yet, children need to engage in gross motor activities. During our long cold winters we do go outside every day but the length of time we spend outside is often not enough for the children to release all their pent up energy. So, I try to provide alternate gross motor activities that are more appropriate for indoors.
When I removed the loft stairs the music area became larger – more room for dancing 🙂 Dancing is one of the children’s favourite forms of indoor active play and something they often initiate. There are also some other features I incorporated in the room to encourage movement;
The step up to the nature area is a natural ‘speed bump’ and a great place to practice stepping – or jumping – up and down, on and off. The pipes are mounted high at the entrance to the block area to encourage stretching to drop toys through the pipes and bending to enter the block area. We do more bending and stretching by practicing yoga poses – another favourite activity that the children will often initiate.
Crawling is also encouraged – it is such a wonderful full body gross motor activity. It is generally much slower than other types of movement and because the children are down on the floor falling is rarely an issue. The children will often crawl during dramatic play activities when they pretend to be various animals. Sometimes we set up the tents and tunnels to promote even more crawling;
Recently we’ve had the spinners out in the playroom. These require an impressive amount of balance to remain upright as you stand and spin. The younger children always use the spinners near a wall or shelf so they have something to hang on to as they spin in circles;
Currently we have the foam hop scotch puzzle on the floor. The squares provide boundaries for hopping or jumping – the difference between hopping and jumping is described here. Using the squares to define the hopping area provides a ‘safe’ zone for those who are not engaging in the activity – they can walk around the mat to avoid being involved in a collision.
I may have to restrict some types of active play indoors because I don’t have an appropriate gym space but that doesn’t mean I have to eliminate it completely. We still much prefer to be outdoors but when we’re stuck indoors we don’t have to remain sedentary.