Balance Boosting Bonanza
In an earlier article on gross motor development, we focused on the upper body as the development stages go from the head down (and the core outward). Today, we would like to revisit gross motor early intervention with a focus on strengthening balance. This is a task that can easily be accomplished in the small moments of daily routine such as while waiting - give the child the challenge to stand on one foot, switch feet, put arms out to the side to help them balance, etc.
We have touched on this topic before in the blog so we'll put some links as well as some additional ideas here for you:
- put a long piece of yarn on the rug making straight lines, then curvy lines along with more ideas listed under pretend balance beams using large steps and small steps (more difficult)
- have the child make their own design (spiral?) from the yarn for the adult to walk on and then they try it too (yarn works best on carpet so as to not slide out of place)
- put a piece of cardboard down and try to walk on it to make a slightly higher surface to walk on (tape it to the floor if it is moving too much which it shouldn't do on carpet)
- use all of the above to hop, jump, zig-zag back and forth from one end to the other
- get out some masking tape for these fun balance games and jump the river game
- try walking on a board (make it wide and thin to start with) then progress to a 2x6 or 2x4 wooden board: be a gymnast on the beam, try an arabesque, try squatting and standing up again
- learning this safely near the floor will help solidify balance before getting up off the floor on a balance beam
- balance on a ball that is squishy and soft -any ball like this will do, exercise balls are great for this
- start with a six month old by holding them around the middle and rolling them from side to side while they sit on the ball (this helps develop their inner ear vestibular system and proprioception spatial awareness)
- keep doing this as they grow - preschoolers can have their hands held but they also like to go on their stomachs on the ball and roll around developing core muscles
- sing rhyming songs like tick-tock which helping the child go side to side
- crawling actually strengthens the core, arms, hands, and balance!
Get creative and enjoy these balance games together!