Movement at All Ages and Stages

I remember the first time I visited an indoor play centre with my toddler. Although I did not like the idea of an indoor play centre after the third day of rain I was willing to give anything a try. House bound boys have a lot of energy, so off to the indoor play centre we went.

The first thing that struck me was how loud it was in there. Kids were laughing and talking and excited to be there. Indoor play centres are bright and cheery places where kids can run, crawl, scoot, jump, leap, slither and slide and get buried in balls. So can mums. For the mother it is a wonderful well rounded, whole body functional workout (see what I did there – I used all the words the latest and greatest exercise routines use). I recall feeling absolutely bone weary after 2 hours of following my child!

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Imabe by Kah Wai Sin via Flickr

Windows of Opportunity

Many of you will have heard this term before, in relation to opportunities which come our way. The idea being to grab the chance to do ‘xyz’ now, because the opportunity is only available for a short time.

 

Did you know that there are windows of opportunity in relation to children and their development?

 

For babies and young children this is when it is optimal for learning to occur in a certain developmental domain, because the conditions are ripe for learning. It means there is a time when it is easier to learn or develop that area. Let me give you an example using animals.

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3 smiling kids

S.M.I.L.E. – 5 signs to look for that your child is developing well

How’s your smile going? Some days in parenting there are so many things to smile about…. Your toddler saying something cute; your baby sleeping; your children playing together; or watching your child ‘read’ to Grandma. And then there’s all the firsts… the first tooth, the first time they crawl, or take their first steps, or tie their shoelaces – all of these lead to smiles from us and no doubt from the proud child as well!

S.M.I.L.E. is also an acronym, which some Parenting Consultants use as a checklist for development. It stands for:

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Motor Development 8 months - 3 years

Developing Motor Skills: 8 months – 3 years

Last week I wrote about the development of motor skills from birth to 8 months old. Let’s look at how they next develop…. 

During 8 – 14 months babies learn to pull to standing, walk along furniture, and may walk alone. There are known as Gross Motor (GM) skills. They can stand and then lower themselves to the floor (not drop down), and they begin to go up and down stairs, usually by climbing. They now use the  pincer hold – they pick up objects using their fingers (instead of the palm of their hand), and are beginning to stack blocks. These are known as Fine Motor skills (FM).

 

You can help your toddler by: Once the baby is able to pull to standing, you can encourage the next level of movement, by placing an interesting object just a few steps along the sofa or whatever they are resting against. Finger food is great once they start using the pincer hold – give them small piece of appropriate food, whilst supervising in case of any choking hazards.

 

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Motor Development

Developing Motor Skills: Birth – 8 months

Motor development refers to the muscles – both large and small, in our bodies.

Gross Motor (GM) are the large muscles in our head and neck, arms and legs.

Fine Motor (FM) refers to the small muscles in your fingers, and eyes.

 

Children develop their muscles from top to bottom, and inner to outer. This means that babies’ muscles develop and strengthen first from the head, then torso, then legs; and from their arms and then out to their fingers.

Remember that wobbly, very heavy head when babies are first born? Gradually over the first few weeks they are more able to control their neck muscles to hold their head upright.

Children develop their muscles through opportunity to exercise them, at the appropriate time. Here’s a summary of the muscle skills they are developing, the approximate time frames for them, and how you can help them:

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Image by Miika Silfverberg via Flickr

4 Types of Music your Child Needs

Music for babies begins when you first coo to them, or when you are rocking them to sleep whilst humming, or singing a quiet, gentle lullaby. Babies have even heard your music in utereo, including the ‘music’ of your beating heart!

 

Parents often sing little songs or rhymes to them whilst changing their nappy or bathing them – reciting ‘This little piggy went to market’ or entertaining a young child with ‘Round and round the garden’, on their hand. Music is such a great connecting mechanism between the parent and child. Music provides comfort, familiarity, physical closeness, anticipation and often laughter.

 

There are four components to music: singing, listening, dancing and playing.

Here’s how you can help your child to learn….

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8 ways to enjoy messy play at home

8 Ways to Enjoy Messy Play at Home

How many of you breath a sigh of relief, when the Playgroup or Kindergarten your child attends does Messy Play – I mean it gets you off the hook right? No paint at home, no playdough on the carpet, no glue stuck to the table – phew!

Have you ever asked yourself, why the Playgroup teacher/ co-ordinator seems to be so keen on providing messy play for the children?

Educators know that children learn through all their senses, of touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. We aim to provide activities which stimulate the senses – know as Sensory Play. Messy play is one type of sensory play.

It is particularly important for young children’s development, as it allows them to explore a variety of mediums; to develop their tactile skills; and in some cases also their fine motor muscles. It also allows an opportunity for language development (words such as rough, smooth, crunchy, cold, slimy etc) and for the child to expand their thinking skills.

Sensory activities facilitate exploration, and encourage children to learn while they play, create, investigate and explore the materials provided.

Here are some easy Messy Play activities to do at home to assist your child to grow and learn even more: Read more

Teaching your Child to Use Scissors

Three year olds can cut using scissors. If you have a three year old child, you know they are fascinated with scissors and their potential to cut anything and everything from paper to clothing and hair!

 

Using scissors requires a lot of skill and fine motor development, and these start to develop well before the age of three.

 

How do you help your child develop the muscles in their hands?

Anything which involves squeezing or pinching type actions will be good, for example:

  • Squeezing the water out of bath tub sponges;
  • Rolling, flattening and shaping playdough;
  • Pinching clothes pegs open;
  • Using small tongs to pick up pieces of salad, or small items such as pompoms;
  • Using an eye dropper with coloured water in to drop onto paper;
  • Squeezing water out of empty, clean plastic bottles and;
  • Using a plant mister with a trigger action.

 

Regular play as above will strengthen the small muscles in their hands, ready for scissors and writing. Read more

Playing Helps Learning

When Children Play Freely, They are Learning!

Play is children’s ‘work’.When children are playing, they are learning valuable information.  This poem summarises it:

The Value of Play

Play is fun.
Play comes from within. Children love to play.
Play is an important part of healthy development.
Play is enjoyable and doesn’t need careful planning, or an end result.
Play means active involvement, not just watching.
During play, the child sets the rules, and there is no right or wrong way to play.
During play children practise physical skills and learn about their bodies.
They learn to use their imagination.
They learn about their own feelings and the feelings of others.
They learn about the world around them using all five senses.
Play is the work of children!

Through play children learn:

To explore materials
To be creative
To use language
To share (maybe!)
To make decisions
To test possibilities
To estimate
To concentrate
and so much more!

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Developmental Domains

Developmental Domains

In my work as a Parenting Consultant, I support families in their parenting with through understanding child development, providing activities for them to do with their children, and chatting about the issues which can occur in parenting – bedtime routines, sibling rivalry, fussy eaters etc and we look at possible solutions.

When we look at child development, there are four common areas or domains we look at to ascertain where they are developmentally. They are:

LANGUAGE: Language is communication. Babies communicate through eye contact and watching faces. They also love the sound of your voice. Once they start articulating (the first ooh’s and ahhh’s) they quickly engage in ‘talk’ with you. If you say something to them and then wait, they will respond – they are conversing with you!

They cry to tell you when they need something eg a feed, or they are tired. Parents can learn to effectively respond to this, by learning the Dunstan Baby Language.

Babies soon start babbling, before moving on to more ‘word-like’ sounds (eg ‘bo’ for bottle). Around one babies may have 4 -6 words (such as ‘bo’) they use. The more you talk with them, and label items in their world, the more their brain takes in. Around 2 y.o children are putting 2 words together such as ‘me do’ or ‘Daddy car’. By 3 y.o they are mostly speaking in ‘regular’ sentences, with reasonable clarity.

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