Stamina and endurance in young children used to be commonplace. I remember as a young child waking up at the crack of dawn and heading out the door for a full day of play on our family farm. I only returned back to the house for meals, or home chores, and then quickly was out the door once again. Each night I would then lay in bed with my legs aching so badly that my dad had to massage them with rubbing alcohol. “Growing Pains!” He would say. Did I have stamina? You bet! I could do anything I set my mind to, because I was filled with energy.
Today’s children of the technological age are different. Running around the farm for ten plus hours a day has been replaced with fun-to-play sedimentary games and/or television viewing. Consequently, building a child’s stamina must now be strategically planned and deliberately delivered.
Just as an athlete needs stamina for optimum performance, it is of upmost importance children have the stamina to do their best in any activity they do. Stamina is the endurance, and self management that keeps them going without frustration or fatigue.
Building Stamina In The Home
- Kids need to have adequate nutrition.Children should be provided adequate time, free from distractions to eat healthy meals and/or snacks. They should not be rush, and the event should be as social as possible. Hence the success of family meal time.
- Kids must have constant access to water and should be encouraged to take drinks often throughout the day. Water is a must, as staying hydrated goes a long way to improving a stamina.
- Kids need physical activity; regular fitness activities and opportunities for active play are crucial and must be scheduled.
- Kids need exercise equipment. This can be as simple as a jumprope and ball. When I was a kid, I remember spending hours and hours hitting a homemade tetherball around a clothesline pole, or jumping a rope over and over again, with one end tied to a fencepost.
- If possible, swing sets and climbing equipment should be the number one backyard priority for families of young children and/or schools where they attend.
- Take advantage of community sporting groups, lobby for more PE time in your local school, start a neighbor activity club.
- Limit time spent using electronic devices. According to the Academy of Pediatrics daily screen time should be limited to two hours or less a day.
- Play board games as a family. Children need to learn how to win and lose. Developing sportsmanship traits is important for the emotional well being of a child. Life is filled with disappointments, learning how to deal with them builds resilient stamina.
Developing Stamina at School
When a child enters formal schooling without adequate "developmentally appropriate" stamina, the teacher must join with the family in the quest for stamina development. With these students, just as if I were to run a 5k (more realistically, run around the block), training must occur.
- Children must feel small successes. When even minor changes in stamina, persistence, or progress occurs, learners should receive verbal praise and words of encouragement. An observation chart should be kept to record targeted progress in the amount of stamina the students have gained so that small victories will be easily seen.
- Teach students the word stamina. Let them celebrate their successes!
- Children must be pushed out of their comfort levels. Provide support, encourage students to work a tad longer on a project.
- Children should see examples of persistence. Give concrete examples and provide models of stamina in other children. Model stamina yourself as the adult example.
- Teach children an I know, I can attitude.
- Continually expect more. If a child can do an activity for 2 minutes then 3, expect 5, and so on.
- Teach children how the brain works. Empower them with the knowledge that new skills are learned by focused, sustained practice and effort.
- Continually repeat targeted skills. Only when something is repeated over time is the growth seen. Know that every day should include hard work!
It is only through consistency that change in stamina occurs. If I want to run that 5k, I must train daily. Going for a walk once a week will not increase my fitness at all, it must be daily commitment. It is the same with children. Consistent practice while receiving adult scaffold support will provide children what they need to increase stamina. After all, practice makes perfect!
Building Stamina in Writing
Young children can become great writers if scaffolding occurs. Read more here...
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Check out our podcast on "Building Stamina" here.