Cultivating Healthy Bodies and Minds: The Importance of Physical Activity & Nutrition for Children
by Susie Beghin, RECE, Founder of Alpha’s Discovery Kids
As an Early Childhood Educator and a mother, my life’s mission has always been clear: to provide children with the best possible start in life. I deeply understand the significance of nurturing every facet of a child’s development. This unwavering commitment led me to create a comprehensive educational framework known as the Four Pillars of Learning.
The Four Pillars of Learning, prominently displayed in every classroom across our three Alpha’s Discovery Kids locations, ensure that children have access to a well-rounded education. These pillars address a child’s physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being and comprise Language & Literacy, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), Physical Activity & Nutrition, and Mindful Awareness.
In today’s world, where childhood obesity is on the rise, it’s crucial that we take a proactive approach to children’s health. This proactive approach begins with education, instilling the importance of physical activity and nutrition right from birth.
Physical Activity: Building Strong Bodies and Minds
Physical activity isn’t just about keeping the body in motion; it’s about nurturing the mind and promoting emotional well-being. The benefits of physical activity extend beyond the physical; they encompass mental and emotional health as well. Engaging in physical activities can improve bodily functions, elevate mood, and promote the healthy development of bones and muscles.
At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we recognize the importance of physical activity in the early years. We firmly believe that building a foundation for physical well-being early in life can positively impact a child’s entire existence.
In early childhood, children are naturally active, curious, and fearless. They have a genuine willingness to explore and discover their own abilities. This is a crucial time for them to have opportunities to climb, run, crawl, dance, jump, balance, and engage in a multitude of activities. These activities not only build physical strength but also foster self-confidence, coordination, and concentration right from an early age.
In our daycare setting, we wholeheartedly embrace the significance of physical activity, both indoors and outdoors. We understand that children need a variety of movements to support their growth and development. Whether it’s gross motor skills, involving larger muscles and movements, or fine motor skills, which focus on smaller muscle groups like fingers learning to grip a pencil, we ensure that both are a part of the daily routine.
For gross motor skills, we often engage in activities like engineering with building blocks or encouraging kids to run and play outside. Fine motor skills are honed through activities such as threading beads or playing with playdough. This comprehensive approach ensures that children are developing both their larger muscle groups and their fine motor control.
Nutrition: Fueling Healthy Lives
In tandem with physical activity, proper nutrition plays a pivotal role in a child’s development. At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we embrace family-style dining, where children sit together at a table with a teacher, and are encouraged to be independent. This approach brings several benefits. It empowers children to portion their meals themselves, fostering a sense of self-regulation and helping in the battle against childhood obesity.
Furthermore, family-style dining exposes children to a balanced menu with foods from all food groups, ensuring they receive the essential vitamins and minerals they need. Variety is at the core of our nutritional philosophy. We encourage children to explore various foods from diverse cultures, expanding their palates and discovering different flavors, textures, and tastes. Our emphasis is on whole foods with minimal processing, a fundamental principle in our approach to nutrition.
Setting a positive example is of utmost importance. Children often emulate the eating habits of adults, so we, as caregivers, should strive to be good role models. We should not only focus on what we eat but also how we eat and when we eat. Involving children in meal preparation, from setting the table to selecting fruits and vegetables during grocery shopping, gives them a sense of involvement and helps them understand where their food comes from.
In addition, teaching children to recognize proper portion sizes will help guide them on how to satisfy their hunger without overeating or undereating. This sets the stage for a healthy relationship with food that can last a lifetime.
The Physical Activity & Nutrition pillar at Alpha’s Discovery Kids is not merely a program; it’s a way of life. We are passionate about nurturing children’s physical well-being through a combination of active play and nutritious eating. We firmly believe that by instilling these healthy habits from a young age, we are laying the foundation for a lifetime of well-being and success. Every child in our care is treated as an extended part of our own families, and their health and happiness are our top priorities.
For more information, or to book a tour, please contact us!