Montessori recognizes how gross motor development presents many health benefits, boosts confidence and self – esteem, and the ability to assess risk.
“Watching a child makes it obvious that the development of his mind comes through his movements” – Maria Montessori
Making exercise a habit can help children to stay active. Stretching can help calm the mind and enhance concentration. It also increases flexibility in the body.
Parents should include simple stretches as regular part of children’s physical activity routines. Before or after a sports practice or a long bike ride, before bed, or anytime your child’s muscles feel tense or tight, encourage them to try some easy stretches.
Children (and adults) should stretch when their muscles are warmed up. So, if your child hasn’t just been exercising, they should do a short warm-up, such as dancing or walking or jogging in place, prior to stretching.
Benefits of stretching for children
According to the University of California, Davis, stretching helps in calming the mind, refreshing blood flow, managing stress, and increasing energy level.
Other benefits include:
- Helps children improve their joint stability and mobility.
- Prevents injuries in calf, quadriceps, and hamstring and helps in lengthening muscles.
- Reduces muscle tension, delays muscle fatigue, and improves muscular coordination.
- Yoga mat
- Stretching poses printables (put in a small basket)
Suggested online resources for printables:
Get a Yoga mat
Roll out the yoga mat
Show the child the printables and ask them to choose one
Follow the stretches as per the picture
Choose the next card and repeat
Safety measures to follow while stretching
Wrong postures or overstretching may harm children.
- Stretching should be done before and after any sports or strenuous physical activities.
- Children should be encouraged to practice stretching regularly to maintain balance and improve strength and flexibility.
- Breathing (inhale and exhale) should be normal when practicing stretching.
- Every stretch needs to be held for about 10 seconds.
- If any stretch causes consistent pain, there may be an injury in that muscle, and you need to consult your doctor.
- If the child has any medical condition, then talk to the doctor before starting any exercise.
8 types of stretches for children
1. Seated Toe Touch
This stretching exercise is good for the hamstrings and the lower back. It releases tension, flexes the spine, and improves the motion of hips.
2. Cobra Pose
Cobra pose helps in relieving backache, improving hunger, and reducing abdominal fat. It can also help in strengthening the stomach and spine.
3. Butterfly Stretch
This is a sitting stretch exercise that is good to stretch inner thighs and helps in strengthening back and maintaining balance.
4. Child’s Pose
This posture helps the child to do a full stretch. It can reduce stress and help the child relax.
5. Straddle Stretch
Straddle stretch is an active flexibility exercise that is good for hamstrings, quads, and opening hips.
6. Bow Pose
This pose improves spine flexibility, helps in reducing strain and release muscle tension. It enhances the blood flow and strengthens the upper body.
7. Overhead Arm Stretch
This simple stretching exercise is good for shoulders, arms, spine, and the overall body.
8. Tricep Stretch
It helps in stretching the upper arm and shoulder. This exercise can be done either by sitting or standing in one position.