We hope each of you enjoyed a Christmas and New Year celebration filled with family, friends, food, fun and fellowship!
With the new year, many of us think about how we can better ourselves and what changes we can make to improve our present and even our future.
With that in mind, I got to thinking about what areas our staff feel are important for young children; things that we can influence and that will improve their future.
The list could be overwhelming and unattainable when we think about peace, acceptance in the hearts of all, a world that understands the importance of education . . . . . . I’m sure you and I both feel inadequate when faced with those ideals. Today, though, I will focus on a few more practical areas our staff feel would support our children’s futures in education – surprisingly these are all focused around physical development.
I found a few good blog posts that cover these topics well so I’m going to link to those.
Building a strong core (the intrinsic muscles that lie deep within the torso) is the reason that tummy time is encouraged for babies. A strong core supports a child in sitting comfortably which enhances focus and less wiggles. A strong core provides a good basis for everything else the body does. Here are two, of many, articles about the importance of building core strength.
(Just click on the photo for the link)
Hand Strength and Coordination
We are seeing more and more children struggle with activities that involve hand strength and coordination. Fine motor skills (movements — such as picking up small objects and holding a spoon — that use the small muscles of the fingers, toes and wrists) are crucial for success in a variety of school related activities; writing (letters and numbers), drawing, cutting and gluing. Think about early learning activities often included in Kindergarten and beyond. These are often included as part of the process. It is hard to be successful with the thoughts involved if a child cannot manage the physical aspects. We can support fine motor strength and coordination throughout early childhood. Luckily the activities involved in developing these muscles are fun!
I’d also encourage you to search “finger gym” on Pinterest. You’ll see a whole host ideas and activities.
An article in Highscope Extensions Curriculum Newsletter states, ” From birth, children have learned about the world by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing. Sensory play also contributes in crucial ways to brain development. Think of it as “food for the brain.” Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning.” In our world filled with schedules and technology we often need to be intentional about including sensory experiences for young children. You can read this article (including what young children learn through sensory experiences found on page 8) here.
As I am writing this I’m beginning to feel a sense of worry for our kids. I worry that our society doesn’t promote experiences that enhance these skills. I worry that our children are not offered enough “natural play.” Play that allows for full exploration, self guided experimentation, trial and error, and so much more. Play that is open-ended. Play that is like what we did as children. Play that naturally enhances and supports the areas I’ve mentioned above. So perhaps our “resolution” for our kids should just be – PLAY MORE!