It is so exciting when your baby takes her first step. When she lets go of your hands and teeters away.
But now that your baby is a toddler or preschooler, how can you help him discover more about her body, facilitate body awareness, strengthen gross motor skills and teach him to understand the space around him?
The answer is simpler then you think:
Move with your child.
Your child has mastered different skills like rolling, crawling and walking but be sure to “review” these skills.
It might seem silly at first to get on the floor with and roll with your child. You might think s/he already knows how but movement is a layered experience, which means we relearn the same concepts over and over.
Crawling is a contralateral movement. The right arm and left leg are moving simultaneously and vice versa. Walking is also a contralateral movement, so mastering crawling will help a child master walking, running, leaping, etc.
As a baby, your child rocked on his hands and knees before crawling. Your child was practicing pushing from his feet, the same concept that he will explore when he learns to jump.
Skills like spiraling, changing direction in space and initiating movement with different body parts will all be explored again when he learns to spin, rotate and twist while standing and jumping.
Each time we relearn a movement we get better at it. So when you get on the floor and move with your child, you are helping him with his layered movement experience.
More reasons to move with your child:
- It is great bonding time.
- You are experiencing and practicing non-verbal communication.
- You benefit from discovering with him/her. Relearning skills like rolling, creeping and crawling is good for YOU and your core muscles, too!
Here are some fun movements and ideas to explore with your preschooler:
• Standing on one foot
• Moving close and far away from each other
• Moving together while connected via a particular body part (hand, elbow, foot)
• Standing as still as a statue (read more on practicing stillness)
Find more movement and body awareness ideas in the following articles:
- The Dynamics of Moving
- Body Integration
- Space: Inside, Outside, and Through
- Exploring Time With Nursery Rhyme
- Building a Preschooler’s Spatial Awareness
- Try Dancing Outside
- Little Dancers Learn Anatomy
Enjoy moving with your child, discovering movement in a whole new light and how fun it can be as well!
What fun ways will you get up (or down) and get moving with your child?
Stacey Pepper Schwartz is the Founder and Director of Leaping Legs Creative Movement Programs. The focus of Leaping Legs is to help people regardless of age, experience or ability, become educated about their movement potential, develop kinesthetic awareness, and become more physically fit and healthy together as a family, and community. Leaping Legs promotes its goal through its original Up Down & All Around DVD, teacher training, and school and community workshops. The Up Down & All Around DVD received Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children’s Products 2009 Award and 10 Best Active Products 2009 Award. The DVD has also been featured in many magazines including Dance Teacher and Dance Retailer News. In its August 2009 issue, Dance Teacher called the DVD “an essential tool for teaching the fundamentals of movement with daily adult-child interactions.” Come visit www.leapinglegs.com to learn more about Stacey and her programs.