Stretching can be really fun!

Stretching increases flexibility

Perhaps only people who work with children everyday with sports training and physical education are seeing the rapid decline in the flexibility of children over the past few years.

I have noticed an increasing number of children under the age of eight who cannot touch their toes, who have stiff necks, who have stiff spines and inflexible feet.

This is truly an alarming development, but the good news is that it is easy to fix and can be so much fun to fix with stretching activities.

5 ways to make stretching a fun activity

Stretching muscles might be an unpleasant and an unwanted feeling at the start, especially for children who are not active. But with an added element of fun stretching can be an activity that children will enjoy and look forward to.

1. Do the stretches to the count. Have the children count with you and at the same time emphasise and prompt the children to keep their legs straight or whatever body part is being stretched in the right position.

2. Count in a different language. If you have multiple nationalities in the class, children can takes turns to count in their own language for the stretch. This boosts self-confidence and integrates diverse learning into the activity.

3. Use a rope to stretch. Hold a length of rope in the hands to keep the arms evenly spaced. Lift the arms up and down and to each side. In a seated position, place a length of rope around the bottom of the foot to keep the leg straight and help hold the leg up with the arms extended for a good stretch.

4. Add pretend play. Enjoy this video with fun stretches using creative play and imagination. Try these activities with your children: Scarecrow, Worm Walk, Butterfly Wings and Say “Hello!”. Let the children think of other ways they can stretch and pretend. What other things are stretchy and flexible?

5. Form a stretch wave. Have the children sit in a circle with their legs forward and straight. One child touches their toes, then the next one, and the next, until everyone in the circle is holding a stretch. The type of stretch can be changed — for instance stand and touch toes or bend to one side — and the wave can begin again. Reverse the wave direction so that each one holds the stretches for an equal amount of time.

Stretching in daily activities teaches self-reliance

There are so many ways that flexibility is needed in every day life. We can help our children to become confident and use daily activities as opportunities to emphasive ways to stretch and get strong and to become flexible.

  1. get dressed one arm and leg at a time
  2. bend over to put on shoes
  3. play sports confidently
  4. climb with ease
  5. stretch and reach heights
  6. save oneself from injury in a fall
  7. sit on the floor comfortably with straight legs
  8. use core strength to sit up straight for long periods of time.

Inspire children to stretch and become flexible

To give our children the opportunity to be the best they can be we must teach them exercises that support flexibility and muscle strength. It is our responsibility to inspire and facilitate ways for children in our care to become flexible, strong and capable.

All parents, educators and those who care for young children are welcome to find more ideas about how to implement meaningful movement are welcome to follow MoovKids on facebook.

Enjoy stretching and increasing flexibility with fun with your early learners!

Darlene Koskinen