THREE ESSENTIAL PROCESSES FOR BUILDING FOUNDATIONAL SKILLS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD
In a perfect world, all children would come with an instruction book explaining exactly what they need every day to develop optimal learning, performing and communication skills and abilities. Well, allow this to be the first in a series of articles to serve as your instruction book for your children.
As human beings, we share the same basic anatomy and physiology. Our varying genetics, environmental factors, personalities and upbringing are just a few myriad aspects that contribute to why and how we do the things we do, as well as our individual physical, mental and emotional strength and resilience.
When it comes to the things we do, three parts of the body direct every action. They are the brain, nervous system and the muscles. These three parts of the body, collectively called the motor system, are responsible for directing our behavior, as well as our learning, performing and communication skills.
Just like a finely tuned car, when the body’s motor system is running efficiently and effectively then learning, performing and communicating become more fun, skillful and desirable. In order to acquire optimal skills, all children need to develop a foundation of strength, balance, endurance, character, confidence and coordination.
Research indicates that children need three processes in order to build this foundation. They need stimulation of the whole brain and body to make neurological connections from the brain to the body through the nervous system and develop efficient circulation of blood, energy and nutrients throughout the entire body and mind
A consistent and balanced flow of these three processes during the early childhood years builds a foundation of strength, balance, endurance, character, confidence and coordination from which a child can increase their potential for developing optimal learning, performing and communicating skills and abilities.
Stand and Sit to Keep Kids Fit
One of the first and most effective movement patterns that will help you begin the stimulation process for 2-5 year olds is to direct them to sit and stand a variety of ways. This is the one action that turns infants into toddlers. Consistent practice of these exercises will build a foundation of core muscle strength, balance and coordination from the hips to the shoulders which will be essential for acquiring exceptional physical skills and abilities.
These activities are also extremely effective for helping children redirect negative behavior. Instead of putting children in “time out,” I have them find a personal space and do these activities to help them calm down and learn to regulate their energies and actions in a more positive manner.
1. Sit and stand several times.
2. Sit and stand with hands on head
3. Stand and shake one foot then the other
4. Stand on one foot then the other for several seconds
5. Stand on toes then heels several times
6. Stand and kneel
7. Stand and squat
Here’s a variety of activities you can encourage your children to do while they are sitting on the floor.
1. Straight and Bend - straighten legs and bend them at the knees several times
2. Apart and Together – with legs straight, move them apart and together several times
3. Put it all together and make them - Straight – Bend – Apart - Together
4. Make one leg straight and one bent, then switch back and forth
5. Bend both legs and move them from side to side
6. Keep both legs straight and move them from side to side
7. Move them in circles from front to side to back to side to front
In my next article I will discuss how music, movement and speech are the three most effective disciplines for helping children receive sufficient amounts of stimulation to make connections and develop efficient circulation. Until then practice these sitting and standing exercises with your children as often as possible. The next time they seem restless and bored, or need to refocus and redirect their behavior, have them do these activities to receive the stimulation that will keep them moving and improving through life!
© Scott Liebler 2017
Scott Liebler has been researching, teaching and developing early childhood development programs for the last 30 years. He is the creator of Funsical – www.funsical.com - a curriculum of music, movement and language activities that appeal to children’s natural desire move and have fun while developing essential skills. He is the author of Safegard Classes On Line - Music, Movement and Language early childhood courses and How to Take a Chill Pill stress management class. He has served as an adjunct faculty member for Front Range Community College in Denver, CO, a seminar presenter for the Bureau of Education and Research (BER) and currently administers the Move to Improve program for early childhood communities. For information on Funsical audio CD’s, curriculum materials and training programs please visit www.funsical.com or call 303-902-4985