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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Playing with Blocks

Playing With Blocks

At 1, I taste the blocks, and throw them.
At 2, I stack them or line them up, noticing the edges of the blocks.
At 3, I build towers or trains, and can tell you about what I’ve made.

Blocks are one of those toys which last for years, and can be used in a variety of ways by children of many ages.

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Superman as a 3yr old

Superman is a 3 year old!

You know how Superman wears a disguise, as the ordinary Clark Kent?

Yesterday I saw Superman in another disguise – as a 3 year old boy!

I was in a department store, in a very long queue of people, waiting to make our purchases. Ahead of me was a Mum, with her 3 year old son (aka Superman). She had a large purchase, with a few smaller items sitting on top and was pushing it along in the line. Superman was looking at all the items which shops insist on putting just at children’s eye level – lollies, chocolates, drinks and small items. He picked various ones up and carefully replaced them.

Then, waiting in a long line became less appealing for him, and he started playing a game with the soft drink bottles – pushing them over, one at a time. Mum noticed and asked him to stop. He promptly decided to ignore her, and pushed another couple over. At this point Mum said: “If you don’t stop that, you can’t have this toy” (the one about to be purchased). He continued pushing them over, and she said: “Okay, no toy.” At this point Superman had a mini-tantrum, which stopped quickly when no-one took any notice. Great work Mum!
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the-terrific-twos

The TERRIFIC Two’s

How often do you hear people saying: “She’s in the Terrible Two’s” when they are rationalising their child’s behaviour? It’s a statement which is often heard.

Imagine for a moment… If I was your close friend, and I told you that you were going to have a bad day tomorrow, with the weather, the traffic, phone calls etc. Your brain would automatically go onto ‘red alert’ – you would enter the day, prowling for problems, ready for action. You would notice every little thing that was wrong with the day – the postman was late, the weather man got the prediction wrong, the coffee wasn’t as hot as it should be etc. When we ‘pre-condition’ our brain to see problems, we become almost like an expert in finding them – it’s as if we are wearing special ‘problem’ glasses which enable us to see all the problems in our day, and to hardly notice the things which go well, as we’re too busy looking for what’s wrong.

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Lessons-from-the-Beach

Lessons from the Beach

I had a mini-holiday this week, in a beautiful little seaside town. Daily I would walk to the beach, to absorb the sunshine and heat, as well as hear the sounds of the waves crashing, and the smell the scent of the sea and the bush surrounds.

On the beach were so many families from India, Asian, the Middle East and Anglos. There were Mums with kids, families with cousins & Grandparents, group of friends, surfers, and couples walking hand in hand.

What they all had in common, was a day of fun. There were so many smiles and the sound of laughter, and it was wonderful to participate in this event.

It made me reflect on all the amazing messages which were intentionally and unintentionally being shared with the children present.

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The 5 Essential Things to Grow Healthy, Active Children

The 5 Essential Things to Grow Healthy, Active Children

We become healthy humans, not just through the foods we eat and the activity we engage in, but also though the messages we receive and the raising of our positive self-esteem. You can assist your children by:

1. Being a role model yourself.

We all know that children are like little sponges – they copy what we say and do – regardless of whether we are doing something ‘good’ eg eating an apple, or being polite; or something ‘not so good’ like yelling, or smoking in the car. Young children don’t screen or filter this information, they just copy it – ‘If it’s good enough for Mum or Dad, it’s good enough for me!’ So, if you want healthy children, lead by example with the food you eat, the exercise you do, and the attitudes you display.

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crossing-the-road

Crossing the Road

In busy Sydney recently, whilst standing at the traffic lights, I was struck by the number of people who ignore the “Don’t Walk” sign. They dart in amongst the traffic,  in order to save about 20 secs off their walk, rather than wait for the “green man” to indicate that it’s their turn to cross.

I saw two important messages here for parents:

Modelling

As an ex-Teacher and a parent, I can’t do this! I’m very conscious that my children (or yours, who might be standing next to me) are watching. At an early age they learn that ‘red’ = STOP, and I also know that they want to do what the adults do. So, if Mum/Dad/Grandparents ignore ‘red’ signs, then I can too. So much of parenting is modelling – whether you mean to or not, children see and hear all that we do in their presence. Young children do not discriminate between the ‘good’ we do or the ‘less good’ we do – they don’t pass judgement, they just copy!

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boys-need-to-play-with-dolls

Why Boys Need to Play with Dolls

How many women do you know who complain that their partners or husbands ‘never’ help around the house? Over the years as a mother and a Parenting Consultant, I’ve heard far more complaints, than praise about the men’s housekeeping participation. This also seems to be born out by researchers who claim that females still do the bulk of the housework.

Why do you think that this is the case?

I believe part of it stems from the early messages children take on board from their parents. We know young children are almost like sponges, picking up on all we, as parents, say and do. Children don’t filter the messages, they just see it as ‘the norm’ – meaning that this is how we should behave. Therefore, if  we as children grew up with Mum doing all the housework, then I will believe that’s how I must behave. And, that’s what I will teach my children. So, our children will also have received the message that housework is for females!

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Pink for girls blue for boys by janetmck

So, What’s Wrong with Pink for Girls and Blue for Boys?

This week I needed to purchase some new toys for a Playgroup I run. ‘That’s easy’, I thought, as I headed to the nearest toy store. Now, I should add, that my children are all adults and I don’t have grandchildren. The various Parenting Consultant positions I’ve held over the past 14 years have all come with fully set up rooms. So, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a toy store! Frankly, I must say that I was horrified at the sexism and consumerism I was confronted with. Aisles and aisles of pink toys for girls and blue/ green for boys. And, the vast majority of toys had TV/ movie characters on them as logos. Is this what we want for our children – to be pigeon holed into gender based stereotypes, and to be on the consumer trail from 2 years of age?

The pink, ‘girl stuff’’ was basically projecting images of demure, delicate, gentle children, and many toys were of a domestic nature. The ‘boy toys’ projected toughness adventure and, with bold or military colours.

This push towards ‘girly pink’ or a ‘baby blue’ for boys,  begins at birth. No, actually, it begins prior to birth when many parents want to know the gender of the child so that they can decorate the room pink or blue. (And yes, I know there are many other reasons why parents want to know the gender). Then once baby arrives often gifts are received, and again the parents have the gender of the child defined by colour , with pink and blue as predominate.

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Pre writing skills - dougbelshaw

Pre-Writing Skills

How does writing start?

In education, the stage before writing is referred to as Pre-Writing, and it starts with drawing.

Initially the toddler will draw continuous scribbles, with whatever implement you give him and on any surface! (more about that later!). He will grasp the pencil by clutching it in the palm of his hand.

At some stage, the child will make ‘separated scribbles’ – this happens when the child scribbles, lifts the pencil, and then starts again elsewhere on the paper.

The next stage is when left to right scribbles are done in lines. (May be right to left)

Next, letter-like shapes are drawn, though far from ‘perfectly formed’.

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