The first two years of your child’s life mark a period of rapid physical growth. From raising himself using his arms, to pulling to sit and then to stand, from cruising to walking and even running, your child’s physical development is amazing.
Such movement is necessary for brain and motor skill development. It plays a fundamental part in your child’s physical development as well as her language, cognitive and social-emotional growth. Large or gross motor skills include crawling, walking and running. Small or fine motor skills involve grasping (holding a crayon) to draw and even self-help skills like feeding, brushing teeth or putting on socks. These require coordination and perception, which movement games and activities can help develop. Children generally develop large motor skills first before progressing to fine motor skills. By providing a variety of movement opportunities, you can receive valuable feedback and information about how your child is growing, developing and learning.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Make a baby obstacle course! Using pillows, cushions, towels and blankets, create simple but safe obstacle courses for baby to crawl and explore. Get down on your fours and join your baby in the fun. Always supervise when baby is engaged with the obstacle course to ensure safety.
Roll the ball. Roll a ball to your child and encourage her to roll it back. You can help her develop eye-hand coordination and strengthen her gross and fine motor skills. Singa song or chant "Roll, roll, roll that ball" as you roll the ball to your child. Make it fun!
Tissue boxes make tall towers. Collect boxes of different sizes and plan many fun developmental opportunities using these boxes. You can ask your child to build towers in different ways with these boxes. Challenge her to build towers taller than herself. Stacking and balancing these boxes develop your child’s coordination skills and dexterity. Praise her for her efforts even if the towers come tumbling down in the end.
Read and tear. Provide your child with old magazines to look at and tear. You may show her how to use the pincer grasp to hold the paper with both hands and then move her hands away from each other (one toward her body and the other away) to tear it. The torn pieces can be used to form a collage or a piece of artwork. This allows your child to practise using her fingers in a coordinated manner and develops her fine motor skills.
Turn pages. Let your child explore sturdy books that are made of hard cardboard, plastic or fabric. Have her to help in opening and turning the pages of these books during story time or on her own. This builds her small muscles and it is a great way to introduce early literacy and book skills too.
Look Mum! I can put on my sandals. Give your older toddler opportunities to pull up her shorts, slip her feet into sandals and attempt to fasten the strap by herself. Have patience and help only if your child is struggling. This not only empowers your child, letting her know that she can dress herself, it also allows her to exercise her fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Do action rhymes or songs with big movements. Provide opportunities for your child to sing and try out simple movements that go with the songs like clapping hands, touching toes swaying body, or swinging hands and legs. These help your child learn more about her body, practice her movement skills, and increase her interaction with and understanding of the environment. Make it a point to encourage your child with plenty of positive reinforcement for her efforts, no matter how proficient her skills.
Make time for tummy time. Short periods of tummy time offer your baby opportunities to practice lifting her head and raising herself on her elbows. Her muscles get strengthened in the process.
Practice makes perfect. Place your child in different positions to develop skills such as rolling, creeping, crawling or kicking. Place a mat or mattress on the floor for your child to crawl around.