Dress your child for active play success!

Phyiscal activity is imperative for your child both physically and mentally.  As a matter of fact, the CDC has found that physical education has a positive impact on academic performance. The correlation between physical activity and academic success stem from many-not so obvious-areas of early education.  First,  excersise helps maintain strong muscles which support both large muscles groups for activities like running and jumping  but also small muscles groups for holding pencils, using sissors, turing pages etc.  In addition, social success in young children revolves around how they interact with each other in both small and large groups.  In this repect the playground becomes their universal language.  Allowing our children to run around together, take turns in games like kick ball, wait on the slide until friends have gone down, decide who is “it”. are all teaching children to navigate their social future as microcosms of the world to come.  Appropriate social skills are as crucial to learning in a classroom as they are for adults to be effective in the work place. It important for parents to be an advocate for their child’s phyiscal health by promoting moderate and vigourous excersise.  For young children who naturally like to move around alot and explore this should not be a hard task. Being a good role model is the most obvious way to promote healthy excersise habits for your children, but there is another important supportive measure that often gets overlooked… that is the clothes we choose to dress our children. When my oldest child was born, a good friend from Japan sent her the most beautiful couture dresses.  When I opened the box my first reaction was that there was a piece missing-specifically a skirt.  There was a long top and a set of bloomers.  After I put it on her,  I realized that the top was actually a dress.  It felt odd to have her wear them here in the US but truth be told it was exactly what she should have been wearing.  The short dress allowed her to crawl, roll and even eventually try to stand from the kneeling position easily.  In contrast, in the US we tend to dress our babies as if they are in middle school with dresses at least to their knees.  I immediately started noticing how weird it is that the 6 to 9 month size baby mannequins at the mall were all standing up. Obviously this was to sell clothes, but clearly that is not how our babies were actually going to wear those items 99% of the time.  The difference made sense to me.  In general we don’t dress our children to be active. Juvenille obesity rates are at epic proprotions.   It is time to rethink how to support our children’s health.  One of the easiest ways is to dress them to be active.  There is no reason for a mobile infant to be in jeans, with heavy fabric and a big snap at the waist-or for the “almost walker” to have on adult inspired shoes with heavy soles.  Furthermore, preschoolers don’t need to dress for the opera to play with their friends or go to school.  School is not the place to worry about your clothes getting dirty.  School is for learning, experimenting and exploring.   All of that should be spelled with five letters; m-e-s-s-y. Infants should spend their social time in stretchy cozy clothes that let them move around as freely as possible without soled shoes.  Mobile infants should not wear soled shoes so that their feet, ergo the muslces in their feet, can help them balance as they learn to walk.  All children walking and older should always be sent to school wearing shoes and clothes they can run and climb in.  In addition, always assure your child can particpate and will be comfortable by planning ahead  for outdoor time by providing seasonally apropriate clothing for your child all year long.  This means a warm jacket, mittens/gloves and a hat from fall to spring.  If the weather is warm they can always take them off and wear less.  Last but not least…the holy grail of no-nos…never send your child to school in flip flops!  This is a disaster waiting to happen.  Flip flops have no support, they are impossible to run in, they break often and out of nowhere they can fold under and trip your child. Let’s face facts, our kids are learning how to work their bodies effectively.  Would you put a u-haul on the back of a race car and expect it to do it’s job as efficiently?  Why encumber our children with these uneccesary items.  Let children be children.  Let them run around and play.  But most of all know by doing this you are in a win-win as a parent.  Your child is getting the physical activity he/she needs for a healthy future all while establishing the framework for academic success.

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