Most health experts say most of us sit too much – and that includes our children. While obesity rates among preschoolers have been declining, as many as eight percent are still overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But there’s plenty you can do to keep your little ones moving – and make sure they eat right – says Angela Johnson, executive director of CHALK preschool, which has campuses in Venice and Westwood, but also offers free preschool curriculum online for parents everywhere.
“When parents leave the house, they always feel like they have to grab the stroller,” says Johnson. “Kids are able to walk, and a lot farther than parents think they can.” She recommends starting with small walks to build kids’ and parents’ confidence and build in some healthy activity.
If the weather isn’t cooperating or you don’t have time to head outdoors, try a 5- or 10-minute dance party inside. Kids love to dance, and parents who join in will find it’s a real stress-reliever. Or pick up one of the many fun kid-fitness videos on the market, or check out yoga videos on YouTube. Kids are yoga naturals. “The children are so good at it, and they just enjoy it,” Johnson says.
CHALK online lessons include activities such as dancing and movement, nature walks, and other active things for families to do. And this year, CHALK campuses partnered with My Gym to install balance beams, ball pits, mats and other gym equipment and begin daily fitness classes for students. They teach balancing skills, sports and gymnastics. “We keep them very busy,” Johnson says. “The parents love it, and it’s the children’s favorite time of the day.”
Nutrition is also part of the CHALK curriculum, and Johnson advises parents to structure snack and meal times rather than letting kids “graze.”
“Friendship Fruit Salad” is popular at the schools, and would make a great project for a play date. “Every child brings their favorite fruit cut up, and we make it into a big fruit salad,” Johnson explains. Other popular healthy snacks include quesadillas and “ants on a log” (celery with peanut butter and raisins).
To keep your active kid hydrated, offer water rather than juice with its high sugar and calorie content, Johnson advises. Giving preschoolers water in a real cup, rather than a sippy cup, is a great chance for them to practice because water doesn’t stain, and makes them feel grown up.
CHALK health, fitness and nutrition lessons are created by teachers – all with at least a bachelor’s degree in education – in the classroom, and then adapted for the website and offered to parents at home. Learn more at www.chalkpreschool.com.