Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Inside Moves, Part One

I can't urge parents strongly enough to make sure that their children get outside to play every single day.  It's critical to their health and to their neurological development.  A body that is not strong, stable, and healthy does not adequately support the work of the child's brain, eyes, and hands, and can't be counted on to keep him effortlessly upright against gravity.   A weak, unstable body makes it difficult for the child to sit, to be present and alert and able to pay attention, and to learn.

If a child can't sit still, it's because he needs to move. A child with sensory processing or attentional issues especially needs a great deal of gross motor activity, the more intense the better.  Movement is what focuses and organizes the brain and body, and drives development forward.

 Playtime should be outdoors whenever possible.  But when circumstances prevent you from getting the child to the playground, here are some suggestions for providing movement and intensity indoors, in small spaces.  

If the child has difficulty focusing on homework, one of these activities can be used as a quick movement break to increase focus and attention.

All homework should be preceded by intense exercise, a drink of water, and a protein rich snack.

Trampoline:  Jumping is a superb high intensity exercise and a very high quality rebounder is not too expensive.  {Even a medium quality trampoline will take a surprising amount of abuse.}  There are so many fun games to play while jumping.  I use a trampoline a lot in my work and encourage parents to invest in a trampoline for home use.  Children love it.  It is a powerful way to work on joint stability, balance and endurance.   It deepens respiration and promotes lymphatic flow, cleansing and detoxifying the system.  It's also excellent for vision.   Most of the children I work with have weak eye muscles, and jumping while aiming and shooting at targets is a great way to stabilize their eyes.

Some ideas for playing on the trampoline:

1. Put on some lively music and have a jumping/dancing party.

2.  Set up some targets and have the child toss beanbags or little stuffed animals at them.  If the child is able, have him jump while you throw his ammo to him, catch it, then turn and shoot, all while jumping. {If he can't catch, hand him the animals while he jumps.}  I use play bowling pins or cardboard bricks as targets.  You can also use large numbers or letters, a Nerf Hoop, a hula hoop, or make a tic tac toe board out of oaktag and colored tape.

2.  Play catch while jumping.  For a very young child, a big Nerf ball or an OBall are good choices.  For an older child, a large playground ball, like a foursquare ball, is fine.

3. Have the child bounce and catch a ball against the wall while jumping.  This is quite challenging.  You can make it even more challenging by standing behind him while he jumps and having him turn his upper body to toss the ball back at you, then turn to the other side and catch it, then bounce it at the wall again, while he is jumping.  Upper body rotation encourages integration of the two halves of the brain, improves bilateral coordination, and solidifies dominance in children who tend to be indiscriminate in hand use.

4.  Play balloon volleyball while jumping, either with racquets or hands.  This is great for visual tracking.

5.  Blow bubbles to the child as he is jumping and have him pop them.

6.  Play horseshoes while jumping.

7. Have the child copy your movements, like hopping, bending, twisting, waving his arms, jumping from side to side, jumping feet apart and together,  clapping,  while he is jumping.

8.  Do the Freddie.

Bosu can also be used in similar ways to the trampoline.  There are many videos and articles available on the web that outline exercises and activities that can be done on it.

A Sit n Spin is a great, compact toy for a toddler who needs to spin.  Older children can use an office chair.  Spinning is  very high intensity and is good for children who never seem to tire or get dizzy.

An inexpensive scooter board is fun if there is room inside your home.  The child can lie on it and propel himself around, or you can spin him around in a circle while he holds on to a rope or a hula hoop, or you can spin him around by the legs.    Here are some ideas for games.

{Next week:  even more ideas for indoor fun!}


Babajeza said...

I've noticed this week that my students can't sit still in class at all. It is worse than ever. I think this is because of the really cold weather. Children and teens avoid to be outside because it is freezing. I can understand this. :-)
During break, when they always have to go outside, they stay close to each other near the entrance, which is funny to watch. But of course, they lack movement and exercise.
I think we are very fortunate that most of our students come to school by bike, and a way of 5 kilometers is not uncommon.

Anonymous said...

Great post Lauren. Seems to be the theme of the day we just posted a similar article on our blog entitled: Learn 14 great Speech & Language Skills While Beating Cabin Fever

Tzvi said...

Great post Lauren. Seems to be the theme of the day we just posted a similar article on our blog entitled: Learn 14 great Speech & Language Skills While Beating Cabin Fever

Anonymous said...

Such a small think. ;-) But such a great idea

Lorna d'Entremont said...

Thanks Lauren,these are great tips to help our children remain active even in winter. Just had Jill Mays, OTR/L, as guest on The Coffee Klatch Tweetchat and we discussed how important just plain "play" is for the all round development of our kids. Appreciate your post and will share it with my Facebook friends. Lorna d'Entremont

Marlene said...

I just found this blog and I am so excited! There are so many great suggestions for helping my children to be healthy, smart, and well-rounded. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! I think you've encapsulated the mission of this blog and our challenge.

Erin said...

My kids are always so much happier when weve been out and about. So we tend to take log walks together and try to get to the park with the little one as much as possible before bedtime, when the weather is nice.

My eldest son loves taking his scooter to the skate park and my daughter really enjoys being out and about with her guides group. I don't understand why parents need to be told to make sure their kids get enough excercise, it seems so obvious to me, but I suppose it's a side effect of modern society?