Depending on age, the earlier they start, the better. Because the foundation needs to be laid.
Like I had said earlier in part 2 of this series, ages 3 to 6, needs to be play. No structured activity required. You just need to ensure that they have the opportunity to run, hop, skip, jump, climb, crawl, swim. You’re job is to ensure safety and give continuous encouragement to them to explore their surroundings and their movement. Giving them a phone and asking them to sit in a corner is the absolute worst thing you can do.
If you live in a small apartment, play with them on the floor, instead of sitting at the table and letting them play by their self in the floor. Take them out to the park daily. Terrace at least. Beach once a week. Or the mountains. Everyone reading this post is elite and well off enough, to take an hour a day for their children. If you don’t have the time for that, you need to re evaluate your priorities.
Throwing and catching balls and toys needs more coordination, they usually start enjoying those by the time they are 5 and 6.
They need movement of all kinds. It needs to be fun.
The time till 6 is when they have to learn to move their own bodies through space. They need coordination, agility. This is best achieved through play. And considering our current Lockdown situation, the playmates will have to be their siblings, you, your spouse and your pets, if any. If they have a neighborhood gang of kids or cousins they will train themselves better than we as parents ever can. Do not rely on the schools, because most schools have only one physical education period per week. And all they do is teach them to raise and lower their hands in unison. Children need unsupervised play, and the lunch breaks and the short breaks are the most valuable periods of the school curriculum. That is when children learn to interact with their peers, seniors and juniors
From 6 onwards, it is time to start formal training to start. You can’t go wrong with pushups, pull-ups and squats.
These are my preferred squat variations for children
These are my preferred variations for push-ups
Adding different kinds of quadruped and bipedal locomotion can make sessions fun. Here are a few as examples
You’ll have to join them and turn it into a game if you want consistent results. The method I use is to take turns. I do my set, then it is the turn of one of my sons, then the next, then back to me again. This allows us to make fun of each other and encourage if needed. If you can get your wife to join in, the fun is usually multiplied, but be prepared for fights after the kids disperse.
Dance and martial arts
Six years and upwards is also the best time to get them started with martial arts and dance. Depending on their personal preference, you’ll have to arrange for either. If possible, both. Martial arts will improve their dance, and the dance will improve their martial arts skill. If your daughters are more interested in martial arts, count your lucky stars and encourage them as much as possible. Only if they absolutely refuse martial arts, should you give them an exemption. Again, participation is key. Join them in their classes.
12 years upwards
-time to get serious.
-possibly the best time to start resistance training and sprinting in a structured manner
– the growth spurt and the sex hormones are now on the upswing.
– training in this age will produce huge benefits in terms of muscle mass, bone density and future health
but beyond that,
-it adds structure to their routine
-directs their energy away from common pitfalls of this age
– rapid improvement with training also teaches valuable lessons about working hard and consistently
– they’re now capable of a lot more mindful about actions and consequences so training will become easier if you’ve already managed to set up a bond between yourself and your children.
– they’ve also started to solidify their own personalities, so they’ll have their own goals and targets when it comes to physical training
– taking note of these targets and encouraging and helping them towards achieving them would be the easiest way to ensure that they train consistently and into the their future adulthood
– for eg- I’m yet to see a teenage boy who doesn’t want to be more muscular and stronger. The desire is there, all you need to do is protect it and encourage it.
– if you’ve set them up with the foundational physical literacy skills, they’ll probably start finding their own way through training