Now that the Olympic games are a distant memory, keep that memory alive by holding your own indoor Olympics...perfect for these slightly more dreary autumn days!
Place a beanbag on your toddler's back and have them crawl around until it falls off. Older children can balance the beanbag on their head and walk slowly. Whoever keeps their bag steady the longest wins.
Place some small toys on the floor and describe a route around them. Take a medium sized ball, such as a foam tennis ball, and have your little ones 'bat' the ball around the obstacle course using a straw. Can they do it without bumping the obstacles themselves?
Use teddies, dolls or any other suitable toys as 'pins'. Sit them up a few feet away and use a foam ball to try to knock them down. Make sure the ball is only rolled gently along the floor!
Fancy Dress Race
Collect together some fancy dress outfits and place them in front of your little ones. They must put on the first outfit, turn around once then take that outfit off and put on the next one. The first one to wear all the outfits is the winner.
Get out all your puzzles (sized according to ability) and see how quickly you can complete them all. Use a timer to time each one and look at whether each puzzle is completed faster or slower than the one before. Show how timers count seconds and explain the idea of timing.
Each year the Wimbledon Championships raise the profile of tennis in the country, and encourage social players back out onto courts all over the land. Most tennis champions were introduced to the sport at a really early age, and if you want a tennis star in your family, then you will need to start training them young!
In all seriousness, tennis presents a wonderful way to promote coordination in your little ones and there are lots of games you can play with them to help in their physical development.
Help babies to focus and track objects by bouncing a ball against a wall and catching it over and over. If they can sit upright, practice rolling a ball backwards and forwards and to you and back
Buy 'short tennis' rackets for toddlers to play with. Encourage them to hit a ball by throwing it to them gently. Have them run after and retrieve balls that you hit for them. Play simple throwing and catching games, have them throw items into hula hoops and then at smaller targets.
Encourage older children to practice bouncing balls on a racket over and over again, see how many times they can bounce the ball in a row. Keep a note of their 'high score' and watch their improvement.
Many tennis clubs run tennis camps during school holiday times, and especially in the summer. Some of these may be aimed at preschool children and some clubs run mother and toddler sessions throughout the year. Look at attending these, not really with the aim of producing a world class tennis champion, but simply to develop physical skills and hand-eye coordination. You probably will foster an early interest in sport, which is no bad thing, but regardless, you will be helping your little ones improve their capabilities.
If you are serious about pursuing junior tennis then the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) help with training and coaching for talented children from as young as five. Being involved in a local tennis club or tennis centres will help put your little ones on their radar.
As 2012 approaches, we can reveal that a family ticket to the 2012 London Olympics will cost in the region of £25,200 - but the good news is that kids go free! Well, nothing's been finalised yet, but former Labour MP and possible future London Mayoral candidate Oona King has come out with a pledge to allow London's schoolchildren free entrance to the Olympics. Current Mayor Boris Johnson has promised 100,000 tickets to 'young people' and believes that City Hall's contribution of £625 million to the Olympic fund entitles him to 50,000 free tickets. So assuming that an adult ticket can be secured for somewhere in the region of £100, a family of four should get in for £25,200, with two, worth £12,500 each, being provided free to the children. That's after every family has already contributed £20 a year for 12 years (£240 in total) in their council tax.
Of course, we're all delighted that the 2012 Olympics are coming to London. We are promised that this will rejuvenate an interest in sport in this country which can only be a good thing for national health overall. However, we do remain slightly sceptical that the Olympic arenas hosting popular sports will be packed with executives, whilst minority interest sports will be left for the children to enjoy. Don't complain if the much talked of Olympic legacy will be to generate a generation of minority sport fanatics!
Sports day is a fun feature of summer, but toddlers who aren't old enough to attend school miss out on all this fun - why not hold your own 'Sports Day' for your littlest children and some of their friends?! Invite two or three other mum's round with their little ones, set up a picnic outside for everyone, and make up a few races for them to compete in. If it's hot, ensure there are plenty of drinks on hand!
Sports concentrate on improving motor skills and coordination, so think of some fun events that help do this. If your little ones are two young to walk or run, then many races could be held at a crawl instead. If you have a mix of ages and capabilities then introduce handicaps for the more capable children to give the littlest ones a fair chance of winning something. If you're tight for space then rather running races in parallel you can time each child one after the other. Here are some ideas:-
Flat race: have your little ones run from one end of the garden to the other, or in a loop around the garden.
Egg and spoon race: good old fashioned fun! Have your babies walk or run from one end of the garden to the other balancing a hard boiled egg on a spoon all the way. Afterwards you can add the eggs to your picnic!
Sack race: give each child a sack and have them jump from one end of the garden to the other. Shopping bags would make a suitable 'sack' but make your little athletes understand never to put bags over their heads.
Obstacle course: make up an obstacle course with your little ones having to run around, over and under objects placed around your garden.
Bat'n'ball race: have your little one hit a ball around a course in your garden - use a tennis racquet, cricket bat or any other makeshift bat.
Balancing act: if you don't have bean bags, find other items such as teddies, dolls or toy cars that your little ones can place on their heads and balance round a course.
Make up some certificates and award them at the end of each race. You'll have great fun holding your own sports day; you'll enjoy watching your children perform, and they'll have so much fun trying out the different races!
With the football World Cup underway, football fever has gripped the nation - no doubt dad's are looking at their baby and toddler sons, wondering whether they could represent their country in the 2030 World Cup final?! Well, it might require a bit of imagination, but anything is possible!
Like any sport, football offers family fun - yes, perhaps only the children are on the pitch, but the family can support the team, get to know all the players and help with the logistics of running a young football club. Football offers a great opportunity for regular exercise and the game will instill physical and social skills in your children.
Children won't be able to join a local football club until they are 5 or 6, although there are some organisations that start introducing children to sport skills from the age of 3 upwards. Initially they'll be working with balls and running around obstacles to help practice their dexterity. Just as a toddler is beginning to learn how to control their body, they can begin to practice those skills that will help them on a sports field in later life.
There's an enormous leap from local football team to world cup qualifier, but starting early and developing good motor skills early on will certainly give your little ones a head start over many other aspiring players out there!
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