June 17, 2009

Gross Motor Skills

It just dawned on me that Everly seems to be focusing on improving her gross motor skills.  Once she mastered walking, she became very interested in fine motor activities.  Now she has mastered many of those activities and seems to be moving back to gross motor.  Of course I always try to offer her lots of opportunities to use both, but since the GM seem to interesting to her, I have been trying to come up with fresh activities for her.

Being a ballet teacher I have been the huge difference in motor skill abilities of children.  Especially very young ones.  I have had 4 year olds who can barely jump off the ground, or run, and 4 year olds who can do single skips easily... and with pointed toes.  I think as with most things part of this is nature and part is nurture.   Being well coordinated and athletic to some extent are important to me and I want give Everly a chance to develop these skills.  

Here are some ideas I have come up with to do with Everly.

1./  Couch Balance Beam - I remove the back pillows of our basement couch and let Everly walk along the narrow (about 2 inches) hard back of the couch.  I hold onto her pants so she can basically do it on her own.   This is obviously great for developing balance and core muscle strength.  As well it works on trust between us because she has to trust that I will be there to catch her if she loses her balance.

2./ Forward Roll - A year ago my young cousin showed me the way the gymnastics couch taught her to do a forward roll (somersault).  I put down a mat and tell Everly to reach to the sky.  Then she puts her hands on the floor near her toes and I tell her to look at her belly button.  I assist her with the impetus to get the roll started.  By using the hands on the floor it protects the neck.  She did about 10 today.  She especially likes watching me show her! 

3./ Scissor Kick - I showed her how to put your hands on the floor and then kick your feet one at a time off the floor, so that for a brief time both feet are off.  She loved doing this one.  This is great for upper body strength and will help with learning a cartwheel later on.

4./ Pony Galops or double skips -  This is a ballet step, and is how most children "galop" when they are little.  Basically you jump into the air and one foot and then the other come up a kick your seat (or in the case of little ones come just off the floor).   With young children we pretend to ride pony's and jump over fences.  I usually say "up up" to help them get the rhythm.  I was surprised to notice that Everly is starting to do pony galops. 

5./ Run and Jump - She LOVES this!  I throw on some ballet music, roll up a small rug and have her run and then LEAP over the rug.  At first she just ran over the rug but after a day of practicing she started really jumping over it.  She has been requesting to do this one daily.

6./ Basketball - All you need is a laundry basket and a ball.  I also use a  little chair on its side and have Everly stand behind it.  She just throws the ball in and then I throw it back and encourage her to try catching it.  It is important to set it up so that they get the majority in.  Once she gets 3 or more in a row, I move the basket a bit further away.  This one was great fun!

More to come!

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