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11.9: Engaging Families

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    Teachers need to develop some patterns for continuous communication with parents and caregivers. Families are an important force in children’s lives and in the physical activities children engage in. Some people believe that fundamental movement skills are only used outdoors. Although the outdoor environment offers a series of appealing possibilities, such as open space and the chance to use all-out force, indoor spaces also offer an array of opportunities for continued practice of the fundamental movement skills.

    Here are some ideas for engaging families in supporting children’s physical development.

    • Create a newsletter to be given to families periodically. Photos of their children, pictures, and documents in the family’s home language about what their children are learning about fundamental movement skills can be included. This may require translation; however, the connection with the families is worth the effort. Provide some stories and pictures of children in action
    • Provide suggestions for activities that will support children’s continuous fundamental motor skill development. Be specific about how. For instance, suggest families that when they go to the park, they can ask their child to show a balance position or a balance movement they learned at preschool, demonstrate a favorite way to move fast or slow, or show how he or she plays with balls.
    • Ask families about the kind of balance, locomotor, and manipulative activities they did when they were young children. They can write them down or verbally communicate with the teachers and their children. This information can be incorporated into future activities and open a door of communication to discuss physical development in the past and in the present.
    • Talk about the importance of physical development for both boys and girls and how gender issues may affect children. Girls already receive encouragement for manipulative skills, as do boys for locomotor skills. These reflections and conversations can bring opportunities to close this gap and explain to parents the importance of physical activity in today’s society.
    • Encourage families to ask their children about the movement skills the children are learning at their preschool.
    Figure 11.15: Hosting a play event for families is one way to get families involved in their children’s physical development.[1]
    • Inform families about the importance of having their children wear comfortable clothes and shoes so they can move easily and freely during physical development activities.
    • Ask children to show their families the movements they are learning at their preschool.
    • Have a family “Show and Tell Day” where children show and tell families their favorite fundamental movement skills.
    • Ask children to identify the movement skills of the athletes in sport games family members are watching and then demonstrate those skills. This is a way to engage family members’ interest in their child’s fundamental movement skills development.
    • Suggest ways for children to help around the home and at the same time practice their fundamental movement skills. Examples include matching and rolling their socks and tossing them from a short distance into the laundry basket or drawer. Helping to unpack groceries and placing them on shelves provides children with an activity to develop manipulative skills and strengthen their hands. Families can create a safe obstacle course in their homes where children can move under and over furniture by using locomotor skills.
    • Encourage families to provide time for children to perform independent daily living activities, such as brushing teeth or getting dressed. Children need time to manipulate objects such as toothpaste caps, zippers on their clothing, and lids of food containers.
    • Encourage families to take their children outside to safe, open spaces and play areas where they can use fundamental movement skills.
    • Encourage children to use words or signs to identify or describe their body parts when they are completing personal-care activities such as getting dressed or bathing.
    • Provide opportunities for children to interact with adults and help around the home with activities such as putting away their toys, putting away groceries, sorting laundry, or bringing dirty dishes to the kitchen.
    • When out in the community, such as at the park or grocery store, communicate with children about objects in the environment. Encourage them to describe where trees, buildings, cars, and other objects are located in relation to one another.
    • When looking at books or pictures together, talk about how the characters are positioned and how they are moving their bodies.
    • When children are playing, ask them to describe what they are doing with their bodies.
    • Create an “Activity Recall Chart” to be used in the classroom first, then at home. Have children recall and categorize their activity into Sedentary, Moderate, and Vigorous.
    • Have a “Family Dance Party.”
    • Model healthy behavior.
    • Take an adventure walk to school.
    • Develop a list of “can do” family rules for active physical play.
    • Take part in family rough-and-tumble play that respects the rights and wishes of all.
    • Proper clothing for indoor and out-door family activities is a must.
    • Make a FITT activity chart. Frequency (how often per week), Intensity (how hard one plays), Type (of activity), and Time (length of activity). Have all family members decide what they want to do. Mark off what they do throughout the week and review at the end of the week.[2]
    Pause to Reflect

    What ways to encourage the practice of fundamental movement skills at home would you most want to share with parents? How might you share these ideas with them?

    This page titled 11.9: Engaging Families is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Jennifer Paris, Kristin Beeve, & Clint Springer.