Category Archives: Physical

101 Guide to developing head control

Okay, so we’ve been through this topic before and we all know how important it is for our little ones to strengthen their neck muscles and achieve total head control. By now, you’ve probably heard that, as your baby girl develops and grows stronger, she will eventually master this skill, yay! But as a parent with tons of resources at your disposal (such as, Kinedu), you’re probably wondering what YOU can do at home to help your daughter reach this milestone and gain yet another skill in the ever-growing repertoire.

First off, a recap. The acquisition of this skill (head control, that is) is crucial since it will lay the foundation for many more physical skills such as rolling-over, sitting, crawling and walking. If you want to read more about what can be expected for this skill at each stage in your baby’s development you can do so in this article (http://blog.kinedu.com/motor-milestones-head-control/).

Now, unto the fun part. Tummy time is actually a secret tool you can use to help your daughter make tremendous leaps in head control. So, what exactly is tummy time? It’s all that time she spends on her stomach awake and most importantly: under your supervision. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), if a baby lays on her back for prolonged periods of time her head can flatten and, even though there’s no developmental problems related to this, if there’s anything you can do to prevent it, go for it!

Every minute your baby is face-down encourages her to lift the head and boost her motor skills! It’s completely normal if your little one is no fan of tummy time at first, hardly any baby is! Which is why it’s important to introduce it gradually and increase tummy time little by little.

Here are some tips you can do to make the most of tummy time!

  • Place your baby on her tummy on your stomach and speak to her. Curiosity and affection towards you will play their part and encourage your baby to look up towards you.
  • If your baby is really not a fan of tummy time, the AAP recommends this position: Place your daughter on a blanket, lay her on her side with a rolled-up towel or cushion behind her back, and a cushion or rolled-up blanket under her head for support. Bring both arms and legs forward in front of your baby. Try to keep her entertained with rattles, songs or toys for a bit before alternating and repeating on the other side.
  • Place some of your baby’s favorite toys nearby and move them around encouraging her to move her head and follow the toy’s path.

Stay tuned in our blog for more articles to help master head control! If you want even more tips and information regarding tummy time and head control, be sure to visit these pages:

http://blog.kinedu.com/motor-milestones-head-control/

http://blog.kinedu.com/motor-milestones-why-tummy-time-is-so-important/

https://www.thebump.com/a/tummy-time-when-to-start-how-to-do

https://www.babycenter.com/0_tummy-time-how-to-help-your-baby-get-comfortable-on-his-bell_1439985.bc

https://www.parents.com/baby/development/physical/tummy-time-guide/

 

How your baby discovers his hands

When babies are born, they are not capable of associating what they see with what they touch. You’ll notice that your baby seems to be looking in one direction, but moves his hands towards another. This is because babies younger than two months old don’t understand that their hands are a part of them. But don’t worry, there are many ways to stimulate your baby’s hand coordination. Keep reading to learn more!

How do babies discover their hands?

Hand coordination in infants is vital for the development of physical and cognitive skills. Since birth, babies start to learn about their bodies through sucking and grasping.

In babies, the discovery of one’s hands is something that can be stimulated through the senses and it works like a domino effect. Practice this with your baby by showing him and making noise with a rattle. First, its sound will get his attention and then he will focus on the object. As he sees the rattle, he will follow its movement and try to reach it with his hands. Once your baby gets the toy, he will begin to notice his own hands.

What happens when your baby discovers his hands?

When your baby is about ten weeks old he will begin to discover the use of his hands. You’ll notice how he will start focusing on a toy and smile at it. He will then begin to move his hands towards the object in order to reach it. Here is when your little one will understand that he has control over what he can touch and grasp.

Also, the development of your baby’s vision is very important for his hand coordination. The more visually stimulated your son is, the better he will use his hands. That’s why, at three months old, you’ll notice that your little one begins to focus and follow familiar objects with his eyes, recognizes people and uses his hands in a more coordinated way.

As your baby becomes aware of his environment, he will begin exploring his surroundings. A common behavior and mechanism of self-discovery are the first encounters with the mouth. That’s why anything that is within your baby’s reach will most likely end up in his mouth; it’s his way of exploring the world.

What can you do to stimulate your baby’s vision development and hand coordination?

– Use a nightlight when you put your baby to sleep

– Change the position of the crib

– Alternate sides when breastfeeding

– Hang a mobile above the crib or changing table

– Expose your baby to toys of different colors

– Show him toys that produce different sounds (rattles, plastic keys etc.)

– Help your baby explore different textures

– Play Peek-a-boo

If you want to learn more about this subject you can check out the following sites:

Proprioception: how my daughter knows how to move her body

When you watch a baby girl try her wobbly first steps it’s cute how completely uncoordinated she looks. It seems as if she is still unsure of where every part of her body is or of all the different movements she needs to coordinate just to take one step. Also, have you ever sat cross-legged only to find that one leg has gone momentarily numb, and then you have to spend a few minutes trying to wake it without being able to correctly calculate how much weight you can put on it or exactly where does your foot end? These experiences prove the impressive connection that exists of how our brain processes sensation and movement. That sense is called proprioception.

The term proprioception is used in medicine and in psychology to describe how a person knows where his or her body is in any given space, and therefore is the basis with which we can safely and carelessly move around our environment. Special receptors in our skeletal muscles allow us to be aware of our own posture, position and balance.

Our brain has to be continuously aware of where each limb is and what it’s doing so that we can move accurately and coordinately. Although, as adults, this complex process is so fast and fluid that it usually goes unnoticed, coordinated movements are no small feat for a developing child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, between 25 and 48 months of age children develop many fine and gross motor skills such as walking, grasping, jumping, running, throwing and catching objects. While she is working at these skills, your daughter consolidates how she processes the internal information about how to move.

If you want to read more about what you can do to provide proprioceptive input for your developing child, you can check out the following link: https://nspt4kids.com/parenting/what-is-proprioception-and-why-is-it-important/

Catching skills and developing coordination

The preschool years are crucial for a child’s gross and fine motor skills development. The American Academy of Pediatrics asserts that most children can catch a large ball with their arms and without falling over at around 36 months of age, while by 48 months they have gained enough motor control and balance to start developing the ability to catch a bounced ball or catch a ball using only their hands.

Although it might seem intuitive for an older person, catching demands plenty of cognitive and physical skills, such as motor planning, hand-eye coordination, sequencing and bilateral skills. Therefore, it is an ability that develops progressively from 2 years of age until well into elementary school. Around 24 months, your child might anticipate catching a ball by standing straight, maintaining balanced and holding his arms in front of him. However, the task is still very tricky and he might occasionally catch the ball against his chest but then fall over. When your kid reaches 36 months of age, he should be able to actually catch a ball thrown from about 5 feet away using only his hands, without engaging the arms or chest in receiving it. At 48 months, he will start bending his arms when catching an object, and you’ll notice he engages more when preparing movements and positions to catch something.

When trying to encourage your son to put his coordination skills into action, you can play catch with him, bounce a big and soft ball at the wall and then trying to catch it, or, depending on your child’s age, you can try some of the activities featured here: https://nspt4kids.com/therapy/the-developmental-benefits-of-practicing-ball-skills-with-your-child/

My child’s throwing skills and her motor development

As the American Academy of Pediatrics states, at around 48 months of age, preschool children are developing the gross motor control needed to throw a ball over their heads using both hands and using their whole body to propel it and give it momentum. A child’s ability to throw an object might not seem as developmentally important as walking or mastering the pincer grasp. However, it’s actually a good indicator of muscle strength and development, and of how well a kid can balance and control his body while moving, of how much he engages with the environment, and how well he coordinates different limbs doing opposite actions at the same time.

Let’s do an overview of how your daughter develops the necessary capacities to throw a ball. By 24 months of age, she is able to throw forward small and light objects (like a tennis ball) using an overhand or underhand technique. While at 2 years she’ll throw objects farther than 3 feet, by 30 months of age she will develop the muscular strength needed to throw the same object at least 6 feet. At 42 months, your little girl will be able to throw a tennis ball up to 10 feet using a more complex set of movements, like moving arms up and back to propel the throw and rotate the torso accordingly. By 48 months, she’ll be able to move her arms and legs to prepare the movement and then throw an object.

You can help your daughter tackle complicated physical skills by providing plenty of opportunities to try and do a task. Breaking down the movement into independent steps, like lifting a ball over her head, maintaining balance, holding the ball in the different positions of arms and legs needed to do the “throwing” sequence, and, finally, praise and encouraging her effort.

Tips to develop writing skills and work towards school readiness

To learn how to write, a child has to develop his fine and gross motor skills in a consistent and predictable pattern through infancy and all the way to elementary school. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a critical moment for the development of skills needed for mastering writing comes between 36 and 48 months of age.

Here are some of the things you can do to boost your child’s writing skills before starting  kindergarten:
• Play A-B-C bingo by either making your own or choosing from the ones available online.
• When your child draws a person, ask and notice different body parts like the hair, arms and legs.
• Write a big and clearly traced letter on cardboard, put it inside a Ziploc bag and have your child trace over it with a dry erase marker that you can wipe afterwards.
• Notice letters in signs and texts your son sees every day.
• Play I Spy drawing games by asking him to draw something he is seeing.
• Make a game out of copying shapes and figures.
• When in the playground, invite your little one to make letter and shapes in the sand using his finger.
• Have your kid make strings of playdough and then help him to make the vowels. Spend some time making the sounds of each letter.
• Think of rhyming words and make funny sentences with them, noticing how they sound similar because they share some letters.
• Give him plenty of opportunities to interact with writing tools and hold them appropriately using his middle finger, index and thumb.

How children use their gestures to better understand and represent things

Children around 3 and 4 years of age still have a very limited vocabulary, so their explanations and other cognitive features can’t be really understood by what they say. The question of whether young children comprehend more than what they can express with words, is one that has both intrigued cognitive scientist and perplexed parents. Because of this, today we have vast literature on how children’s gestures provide insight into their cognitive state, their process of learning and how they represent things beyond words.

In 1986, Susan Goldin-Meadow and her colleagues from the Department of Psychology of the University of Chicago discovered that the gestures and movements that preschoolers do in problem-solving situations or while understanding mathematical, abstract or conceptual thinking are correlated with their efficacy and skill at the task. In other words, children use body moments to understand better new things. Drawing from numerous studies and experiments, they state that children’s spontaneous gestures help them work through something they haven’t mastered yet, and are the mechanism they use to point out to adults and caregivers of the things they are understanding without relying only on their vocabulary. This allows the adults to better communicate with a kid at a given moment of a task, and also helps the child to avoid the frustration of not being able to convey something.

More recently, Karen Pine and researchers from the University of Hertford discovered that children know more things than what they can actually express in words, especially regarding knowledge that is implicit or coded in spatial or visual formats. For example, how to solve problems, or the physical skills or concepts of balance and speed. Research has shown that experienced coders can reliably “translate” the meaning of the gestures that children produce naturally when they express something they learned or when they’re solving a problem.

Next time you watch your daughter playing or doing a task, try to notice the hand gestures and body movements that she does knowing that she is in the middle of learning something new or consolidating something by herself.

To read Goldin-Meadow’s fascinating paper published in 1993 in the journal Psychological Review, follow this link:
http://www.cogsci.ucsd.edu/~nunez/COGS160/GoldinMeadow_et_al_PS.pdf

Developing the skills that will prepare my child for school

According to a 2001 research paper published on the journal Early Childhood Research in Practice, there are many factors beyond a child’s age that are crucial for a positive transition into school environment. Among other things, a kid’s social skills, emotional intelligence, fine and gross motor skills, and positive relationship with his primary caregivers are all important factors that can help with the transition.

Some skills you can encourage right now to support your child’s school readiness are:
• Express emotions, needs and wants appropriately using words instead of acting out.
• Engage in different types of play (play-pretend, free play, etc.).
• Take turns while doing or using something.
• Show interest in forming relationships with others.
• Understand and be acquainted with basic rules.
• Follow directions, and up to three-step instructions.
• Pay attention to others and to the tasks at hand (between 8 and 15 minutes of attention depending on age).
• Show curiosity and interest in learning.
• Have interest in the world, on how it works, and in interacting and problem-solving.

Here are some kinder or child-care preparation activities to try with your son:
• Support his participation in group activities.
• Encourage him to use writing tools like pencils and crayons.
• Encourage cooperating with peers and making friends or engaging in spontaneous play.
• Encourage his self-care and independence skills, by practicing doing buttons and zippers or eating lunch without help.
• Explore scribbling and attributing meaning to different patterns of lines.
• Expose your kid to written and spoken words by reading stories together. Pay attention to things around the house and refer to them by their name.
• Talk positively about going to kindergarten or child-care, meeting new friends and learning new things.

Your daughter is coloring her way into great motor skills

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC, between the age of 36 and 48 months, most children can use playdough to make balls, strings and other simple figures, copy shapes like circles, lines and squares, cut across a piece of paper using children’s scissors, put on and off some items of clothing, open jars, open and close large zippers or buttons. These activities involve coordinating many different systems and muscles, and require mastering precise movements using hands and fingers. A great way to encourage the development of your little one’s fine and gross motor skills is mixing the challenge with the play together, something most children are naturally inclined to.

Coloring the pictures in coloring-books or just drawing freely is an excellent activity to help your daughter engage with her physical skills, cognition and creativity. Here are some of the ways in which coloring can help her development:
• It stimulates creativity and appreciation of visual similitudes and differences.
• It cultivates your kid’s hand-to-eye coordination.
• It helps children broaden their vocabulary, as it exposes them (with your help) to the words used to describe lines, colors, shapes, patterns, perspective, etc.
• It benefits your daughter’s color recognition and awareness. She is more likely to discern subtle differences in hues if she gets to experience them first hand.
• It sets a good base for her to work on her finger dexterity, hand coordination and arm strength.
• It provides children with small but challenging tasks, that when completed foster their confidence.
• It’s a great vehicle for self-exploration and self-expression when words aren’t sufficient.
• Coloring inside the lines a picture helps your kid get a sense of structure, and of the need and benefits of having boundaries.
• It requires her to exercise attention to detail and planning, and thus helps develop her executive functions.

Activities to encourage jumping skills

As you may know by now, kids learn by observing and then doing. So, because preschoolers have lots of energy and appetite for fun and activating games, here are some ideas on how to encourage your 4-year-old to develop his jumping skills while also getting a daily dose of exercise and playing alongside you:

• Imitate animals and make it a game that also encourages vocabulary acquisition and cognitive skills. You can use pictures of animals and model their movements. Also, help your son respond the next questions, or similar ones.
a) How does frogs move? And do they do sounds? Can you jump like a frog?
b) How do rabbits move? Can you jump like a rabbit?
c) Can you jump like a giant?
d) Can you jump forwards? And backwards?
• Play some upbeat music and dance to its beat. You can encourage your little one to jump in place while coordinating arms to the rhythm of the song.
• When jumping with your child, model the following things:
a) Prepare to take-off by bending knees.
b) Start the movement by swinging your arms back and then forwards to gain impulse.
c) Extend your feet and legs when you take-off to push against the ground.
d) Maintain balance when landing.

Engage in conversation afterwards and discover together which movements your son finds easy, funny, etc. and how he would describe what jumping is.