There is a reason why we begin to play games with our infants and young children. Games allow all of us to enjoy gaining new skills and new knowledge. It’s fun and not a hardship. Blowing on an infants tummy and watching his face glow into a large smile, followed by throaty laughter is fun AND our baby is learning that bodily sensations can be pleasurable, especially when shared with someone you trust and love.
Motor Development can often be a worry for parents when they suspect that their baby/toddler is not progressing at a “normal” rate. From our good friends at the Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmarks, we have the “Sensorimotor Skills” for children from ages 36-60 months.
Goal: Children use their senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) to guide motions.
Some Indicators for Children:
- Physically reacts appropriately to the environment (e.g., bends knees to soften a landing, moves quickly to avoid obstacles)
- Integrates an understanding of a variety of concepts in conjunction with movement (e.g., imitates an animal through movement, sounds, dress, and dramatization)
- Catches a bounced ball
- Enjoys pushing objects, climbing ladders, swinging on a swing, and sliding.
Some Strategies for Caregivers:
- Play word games that use the body (e.g., “Simon Says,” “Follow the Leader,” or “Charades.”
- Set up an obstacle course of chairs, sticks, boxes and give directions such as “go over the box, under the chair, beside the stick.”
- Provide opportunities for safe rough and tumble play both inside and outside.
- Give child opportunities to run up and down hills and curvy surfaces.
Along the way, I learned that one of the best “fun” things to do is to have children roll down a hill. Tuck in your arms and roll as far as you can. Rolling at an early age helps to increase a sense of balance. Who knew? Rolling down a sledding hill counts the same as rolling down a grassy hill.
Be gentle and wise with yourself and your children.