I don’t know about anybody else, but after such a glorious summer, I’m finding it hard to adjust to these dark, chilly days. The onset of winter doesn’t completely rule out taking my little boy, James, to the playpark – but it does make it a less enticing prospect. It’s tempting to spend the next few months vegetating in front of the telly with the central heating on, but I suspect that would do neither of us much good. I need to find ways to keep James fit and healthy, and it’s essential that he has a ton of fun at the same time.
Live Active Leisure is the largest sport and leisure provider in Perth and Kinross, and recognises the importance of instilling a love of exercise from a young age. Their award-winning programme of classes and activities helps establish a healthy lifestyle that will benefit young people long-term. Active Steps classes are available for children aged twelve months to five years, and Active Fun classes are for those in primary school.
Kangaroo jumps, flamingo hops and walking backwards soon gave everyone a rosy glow.
James and I fancied trying something new, so we peeled ourselves off the sofa and headed along to Bell’s Sports Centre for a Kickabout session. Kickabout is part of the Active Steps programme, and is an introduction to football for pre-schoolers. It’s great for developing your child’s ball skills, teamwork and confidence. James was in the group for three to five-year-olds, where parents and carers can relax on the sidelines and let their kids burn off some energy.
Our Kickabout coach, Cheryl, had a chat with the children before getting them to warm up. Running fast across the sports hall, kangaroo jumps, flamingo hops and walking backwards soon gave everyone a rosy glow.
Cheryl then demonstrated how to move the football with small kicks, keeping it under control, and giving it a big ‘squash’ with your foot if it ran away. James did pretty well, employing a sort of slow-motion style, gingerly inching along, and chucking in an occasional handball if he got stuck. The children were then instructed to use their knees, and their heads, and count how many times they struck the ball. James reckoned he managed sixty… he was perhaps a tad optimistic!
Next, there was a series of obstacles laid out on the hall floor for the children to negotiate, culminating in a kick at goal. They took turns weaving around small cones, stepping along a ladder, and jumping into hoops before their big moment at the goal. Even with no keeper, James was never going to trouble the back (or any other part) of the net, but he remained unfazed and ran off happily.
After a break for juice, and a quick tidy-up, everyone gathered in front of the ‘hungry crocodile’s mouth’. This was a semicircle of cones (teeth) ready to snap up any football kicked with the right force and in the correct direction. Again, the children took turns to complete the challenge. It was certainly harder than it looked, but I could see how regular attendance at these classes was improving many of the children’s sporting prowess. James had some success, but I think it was down to jamminess rather than expertise!
Kickabout proved to be a calm and constructive class, with the children amazingly well-behaved and keen to learn. They finished off with a mini game of football where the action was ramped up a notch but the tackles and attempts on goal remained good-natured and enthusiastic.
The following week, rain and cabin fever drove James and me back to Bell’s, and this time we signed up for Wee Springers. This perennially popular class hardly needs an introduction, but it was our first time and James eyed the climbing apparatus and floor equipment with fascination. The Wee Springers sessions encourage movement, balance and co-ordination and our class had a circus theme.
The children were transformed into a group of tumbling clowns, tightrope walkers, and jugglers. James managed a forward roll (his first ever!) and got a good workout crawling through tunnels, leaping onto the crashmat, swinging from hoops, and testing the trampoline for bounciness.
For the three to five-year-old age group, accompanying adults can again simply leave the kids with the coaches in the sports hall and take a well-earned breather.
The children were transformed into a group of tumbling clowns, tightrope walkers, and jugglers!
There is a variety of Active Steps and Active Fun classes held at Live Active venues throughout Perth and Kinross. But if your child just fancies free play rather than an organised activity, an old favourite of ours is Bounce Around and Playtime. This is held twice a week and incorporates the soft play area at Bell’s, which includes a ball pool with slide, tunnels, and a rope bridge. In addition, balance bikes, basketballs and footballs are all laid out alongside.
The star of the show is undoubtedly that absolute classic of kids’ entertainment…a bouncy castle! James and I used to go to Bounce Around every single week, pretty much from when he could first stand. He became more adventurous with each visit, and I watched him grow from a tottering toddler to an agile wee boy.
To find an activity that you and your child truly love, check out the Live Active website for information on all the Active Steps and Active Fun classes available here >
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