Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kickin' off!

Whether it's jumping, kicking, swinging, or running around like mad men, my boys are always on the go. Fortunately, there are great benefits to this movement beyond just burning energy.

In graduate school I read an article published in the 60's by Jean Piaget. He basically observed his own children and developed theories of human development. He suggests that young children learn primarily by interacting physically with their environment, acting on objects, and observing the results of their actions. This is most apparent during the first two years of life.

Since that article, many specific connections between movement and cognition have been identified. For example, one of the important skills needed for reading is Tracking, or the ability to control fine eye movements. To read a bit more about the neurophysiology of motor cognition, click here.

Here are 10 activities that develop fine motor skills necessary for Tracking:

  1. Blowing, chasing, and popping bubbles
  2. Swinging or watching swinging items (balls or other kids)
  3. Jumping
  4. Playing with balls- watching them come or go and timing for catching, kicking, etc
  5. Playing chase
  6. Hide and seek
  7. Dancing
  8. Watching airplanes and birds in the sky
  9. I Spy- searching for things around them or in a picture will help them develop systematic way of doing so. My 3 year-old recently started realizing that you read letters and words from left to right and when he counts things, he starts from one side.
  10. AND reading with your child, tracking the words with your finger (of course!!)
The things that our little ones already enjoy doing are preparing them to read! Don't forget to include movement when planning your activities! The way my 1 year-old sprints away from me and dive bombs everything, he should be reading any day now:)

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