How to give your child the best start in life
We spend a great deal of time trying to find wonderfully simulating experiences, the best resources, the best schools and after school programs. We try to expose them to as much as possible- to help them get on the "right track"... But how do we know it's right? How do we plan for the next generation, when we have no idea what kind of world we're preparing them for? When faced with so much uncertainty, where do we start? What skills do we choose for them?
The importance of movement
I know I say this all the time, but it's vital...MOVEMENT SWITCHES THE BRAIN ON! Experts in education, psychology, child development and neuroscience are all pointing to the importance of movement. Because of the far-reaching effects of movement on the physical, cognitive, emotional and social abilities of a child, movement is fast becoming the key to success.
Companies like NASA, when recruiting are starting to look at the applicants play-history to determine their potential success at the company. WHY? Because the way we move and PLAY as a child changes the way we think as an adult.
So when we give children the opportunity to move and play, we give them them the opportunity to build skills for life. No matter what the future holds.
In the first year of life...
From waving arms and legs in erratic uncontrolled movements to purposeful actions, like sitting, rolling over, creeping, crawling and walking. Babies organise their brain networks through movement, with the help of the magical primitive reflexes. These early stages of movement, create foundational systems that we build upon as we grow, learn and interact with the world.
Three quick examples of how movement in the 1st year of life impacts a child's future:
- Tummy time and rolling over, prepares the brain for reading, writing and spelling. It affects hand-eye coordination and crossing the midline. This impacts the way we play sports and our general sense of being safe and balanced in the world.
- Establishing good head control, allows a child to push against gravity, movements like jumping, running, walking become easier. It also stimulates the balance system, making sitting in chair, concentrating, listening with understanding and being aware of the space around them possible.
- Rocking before crawling and crawling itself, influences the way a child sits (posture), coordination, eye movements (being able to read across a page, or follow a moving object,) it reduces ADHD symptoms and makes it possible to eat without messing. Who would have imagined!
During the classes we creatively re-create these steps and build on them and others, using special equipment, action songs, movement and yoga.
This is WHY it is important?
Because everything we do is essentially a neurological process. By creating a more efficient brain-body system, we prepare our children for life!
For children to become great inventors, musicians, artists, sportsmen or women, dancers, actors, academics, doctors, lawyers, creatives, strategists...every job really, they need to start with a strong foundation of skills and brain-body systems. This foundation is like a toolbox for life. This foundation comes from the right movements and play during the early years.
Life Skills through PLAY: a holistic approach
Holistic Development is an approach to learning that emphasises the importance of the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of children, particularly in early childhood.
Because movement in a vacuum situation is not enough. All mammals rely on play during the early years to establish the skills they need to survive. Humans are no different. I'm sure you are all familiar with the scene above. Mufasa teaches Simba to pounce through play. A skill he will need, if he is to survive as an adult. If you haven't watched the Lion King yet, we seriously need to organise a movie night :)
Movement through play engages the child in a way that cannot be matched with any other activity. The fun element, the social elements, the LOVE and joy, feelings of self-motivation and confidence, the ability to self-regulate emotions and behaviour can only come from within. PLAY brings in all of these elements.
It propels the feeling of happiness and well-being and encourages children to take risks, problem solve and challenge themselves. It demands social learning, like turn-taking, waiting, sharing and empathy, it encourages team work, socialisation, cultural understanding and language development. It boosts confidence, self-esteem and allows children to be themselves as well as part of a group.
Movement in PLAY, is how we give children the best start in life!
The biggest misconception of skills development is that everyone has them, that we are born with them and that through life we just fine-tune them.
Foundational skills are learnt naturally, yes, but through vigorous practice and an enormous amount of repetition. It is through repetition that we make the brain network or pathways more efficient. They (neurons) grow like a tree, from a little tiny sprout to the a strong and steady tree, through the various movements we do.
Through movement the neurons release BDNF, a protein released inside nerve cells. The reason why BDNF is so important for a healthy brain is because it serves as Miracle-Gro substance for the brain, essentially fertilizing brain cells to keep them functioning and growing, as well as propelling the growth of new neurons.
Given our very busy city-life experiences, children spend more and more time, in buggies, wraps, jumpers, walking rings, or behind the the desk at school or sitting still for long periods of time. The demands of starting reading and writing programs too early, lack of play time and recess at school, all have an impact on their natural ability to develop.
As a mom, educator and sensory specialist, I see children experiencing learning and behavioural difficulties that could have easily been tackled before they even begin school. And this is why I started Neurobics Kids, because everyone deserves a chance to feel fulfilled in life and not like they are working twice as hard as the person next to them.
Examples of behaviours we see in children that can be minimised or even eliminated through a consistent movement program.
- Children who always run instead of walk, can't concentrate, fall over often, have difficulty with rhythm and/or being coordinated = display the need to further establish their balance or vestibular system
- Children that struggle to be still, are "hyper-active", can't concentrate, fidget or have difficulty remembering what was said to them = also display the need to further establish their balance system.
- Children that struggle with bumping into things and others, can't stand in a line, love playing rough, have difficulty sleeping, touch everything they pass, often fall off the chair, display the need to further establish their proprioceptive system.
- Children that are afraid to wash their hair, don't like being barefoot outside (grass for example), have trouble with labels and textures of fabric, will only eat certain textures or colours of food = display the need to further establish their tactile system.
- Children that have difficulty following instructions, knowing right from left, dressing themselves, feeding themselves, tying shoelaces, doing up buttons, writing and reading, cutting with scissors = display the need to further establish their left and right brain integration.
None of these behaviours are automatic, it's not because the child doesn't listen...it's because the foundational systems need a boost.
What's in the strong foundations TOOLBOX
@ Neurobics Kids?
- Inhibition of Primitive Reflexes
- Vestibular SystemProprioception system
- Tactility and Kinaesthesia
- Visual perception
- Auditory perception
- Left and right brain integration
- Muscle tone
Through play, action songs, specialised equipment,sensory activities and yoga, we help your child establish the neuro-systems needed for successful living.
A child with a strong foundation, feels confident and able to bring direction and purpose to their lives in any way that they choose.
So when we search for what to do to give our children the best start in life, we should be searching for activities that boost the child's abilities to be the best versions of themselves.
Choose Neurobics Kids, because reaching for the STARS, starts with strong foundations.