- Posted by spectrum
- On October 11, 2017
Why is balance important?
Balance and coordination is important in everyday life, whether it’s climbing stairs, playing sports or even walking forward in a steady manner. For our young ones, learning to coordinate and balance at the same time may be a bit tricky. Balance is the ability to maintain and control body position while performing a task. Balance is important for when we are moving around (dynamic movement) or staying still (static movement) as it means we are more easily able to engage and participate in activities.
What is impacted when we have reduced balance and coordination?
If their balance and coordination is effected, this does not only mean that they will be floppy or easily fall over, although this can definitely be an indicator. It also means that they may have reduced visual spatial awareness, low or reduced endurance, impacted sensory processing, difficulties with motor (muscle) planning, difficulties with pre-writing skill development and pencil grasp or control, articulation and even self-care.
What does this mean?
For kids, their main occupations revolve around play and learning. When their balance and coordination is effected this often means it becomes difficult to participate in play and especially social based play such as sports. This may become tricky during recess and lunch when most children are up and about playing games. When it comes to the classroom, having reduced balance and coordination impacts concentration and engagement in activities due to the distracting nature of trying to self-correct balance and stay on task.
What are some fun strategies you can do at home to increase balance and coordination
Here are some fun strategies to help improve balance and coordination through increasing core strength, improve attention and alertness, improve muscle strength and endurance and improve sensory processing:
- Walking over unstable surfaces: Get out those bean bags, get out those pillows. Put them all together in an obstacle course and go climbing and walking all over them. This unstable surface is a great way to try to steady and balance yourself!
- Wheelbarrow walking: muscle strengthening and socialising all together in one fun game! What a great way to build up muscle tone!
- Swings: Balance and coordination may not be your first thought when it comes to going on a swing, but staying safely seated while bringing yourself forward requires core strength, muscle tone and visual perception.
- Kneeling: This one might sound uncomfortable or silly, but get down on your knees, ask a friend, sibling or parent to play, and practice throwing and catching using your elbows while balancing on your knees- this one will sure be good for increasing concentration too!
- Hopscotch: Jumping from one foot to the other, jumping with your feet apart, and turning on the spot are a great was to practice balance and coordination while having fun!
- Stepping Stones: Whether its jumping across puddles or jumping through lava, jumping from one stone to the next landing and balancing steadily on one leg will be great fun while increasing lower body strength.
- Bike Riding: balancing the bicycle upright, peddling and staying seated requires quite a bit of balance and coordination, and is a great, fun activity for the whole family!
- Swimming: Swimming is a great way to increase core muscle strength as well as strength in your arms and legs. Moving forward and keeping in your lane all while kicking and moving your arms is a great way to increase visual spatial awareness, body awareness, depth perception and coordination.
- Climbing: Head on over to your local park and have a climb on the jungle gym!
- Standing on a balance board, hold your arms out wide, stand tall, and try stay in position for as long as you can!
- Balance on an exercise ball: Lie down tummy first on an exercise ball, rolling forward and picking up an object up ahead/ or give mum or dad a high five. This is a tricky one, but it requires, balance, coordination, hand to eye coordination and visual perception, and is great for increased core muscle strength too.
- Jumping on a trampoline. Landing back on two feet after jumping is something most of us will take for granted, but it takes balance and coordination to achieve these successfully, another good way to practice and increase strength.
- The Gymnast: Put tape on the ground and pretend you are walking on a balance beam, remember to keep your arms out wide for extra support while balancing!
- Standing on one foot and touching your nose, hold position and then switch hands
- And finally, try some of these with your eyes closes. Sounds tricky I know, and it would be worthwhile waiting until balance and coordination has increased before trying this, but if your little one can master this, then they’re bound to be a pro at balance and coordination!
And don’t forget to have fun!