All a balance

All a balance

Back in 2014 I read a blog article detailing how many children in education now have issues with fidgeting in class and linking this to an underdeveloped vestibular (balance) system.  The children in the classrooms the author observed were struggling to sit still through lessons with extreme fidgeting and repetitive behaviours, and the link was made with the modern emphasis on children being upright, sitting, rather than rolling down hills and flying around on roundabouts.

Fast forward two years to a conversation with an old colleague whose son had just started school.  His own son had great fine and gross motor skills, being from an active family with plenty of opportunities for the kinds of activities that develop those skills.  However this was not the case for the rest of his class, to the extent that the school had to bring in an occupational therapist to work with these children who had spent their first years sitting swiping and tapping screens.  Time and time again I have talked to early years professionals who say things like “the parent said their child was great at jigsaws, but when I gave the five year old child a four piece jigsaw they didn’t know how to pick it up and manipulate it – all they had done before was drag and drop on a screen”.

This isn’t a rant at parents who have become dependent on screens to entertain and educate their children.  Online programs, educational games, and great TV shows all add greatly to the mixture of resources available to us.  It’s not a rant at schools who, for various reasons, are being pushed to cut down on activities such as art and play because these are seen as being extraneous to the school’s mission to teach literacy and numeracy, even though studies of the pedagogy of early childhood development have shown time and time again these ‘extras’ are in fact essential, especially in the first few years of school when children are developing social skills, creativity, mental resilience and those ever important fine and gross motor skills.

It’s just a shout of support out to everyone who is walking the path less travelled and trying to buck the trend for

Wobbly Toby

endless screen time and a life spent sitting down.  This is why you are doing the right thing when you stand up against your five year old having homework every evening, or usher your eight year old outside to play on a climbing frame when they would rather be in playing Minecraft.

 

 

Sometimes though the kids choose a really great way of developing their balance and gross motor skills which really makes me nervous.  I have to admit I am rarely as stressed (but getting better at hiding it) as when I see my babies flying along on their bikes, narrowly avoiding dogs and their owners with me running along behind shouting ‘watch out for the……..oops!’  Or when the boys are venturing forth on their skateboard and rollerblades, dodging the mobility scooters and elderly pedestrians at the seafront.  I take a deep breath, smile brightly and mutter ‘gross motor skills, balance, judgement of risk’ and all the other things my training tells me the boys need to do this for and which don’t involve me bubble wrapping them.

 

NB for a wealth of activities to encourage development of gross motor skills check out this useful resource  :http://learning.gov.wales/docs/learningwales/publications/130212do-and-discoveren.pdf

 

 

 

16 Comments

  • Plutonium Sox

    4th February 2017 at 10:12 pm Reply

    Haha you are a brave lady managing to allow your boys the freedom to do everything they get up to, they are utterly fearless! But I do agree with you, it’s so important to have time away from the screens. My two strangely can’t do jigsaws, they’ve just never had the concentration. And that’s despite having hardly any screen time. Loving the new blog look 😉
    Nat.x

    • admin

      4th February 2017 at 10:17 pm Reply

      Jigsaws just an example as it’s a common one used by health visitor friends to check out how kids are getting on, but anything where they need to use a fine grip and hand eye co-ordination could be substituted for this example. My bravery with the boys is definitely influenced by having worked at an outdoor ed center for three years. I’m very grateful for your expertise in fixing the blog – the new scheme is very swish thanks to you!

  • Emma - Hip2trek

    5th February 2017 at 11:10 am Reply

    I agree with the need to get kids away from their screens, my kids drive me mad with their heads buried in their tablets sometimes. However we all go out at the weekend on family walks and I have to bite my lip as my 8 yr old leaps from rocks or tree stumps at every opportunity. We had to climb down some rocks yesterday and he said ‘Mummy don’t worry I know Parcour from watching mine craft!’. I will remember now gross motor skills and judgement of risk. #CountryKids

    • admin

      6th February 2017 at 9:49 am Reply

      Sounds like you have a great balance between screens and physical play 🙂

  • Sonia Cave

    5th February 2017 at 5:31 pm Reply

    Ha ha!! I have to bite my mamma tongue so much letting them climb trees etc knowing it is important for them to learn to take risks as well as manage them. We eventually pulled our daughter out of school in the UK through losing so much outdoor play to the bad weather (she was fully equipped for english rain), and such prescriptive education. We have since moved to Sweden where us bucking the trend in the UK, is the trend here!! Everyone is much happier 🙂 Keep doing what you are as your little people will reap so many benefits!

    • admin

      6th February 2017 at 12:55 pm Reply

      Sweden has many great educational ideas that we can emulate 🙂 I hope you guys are really enjoying it there!

  • Sonia Cave

    5th February 2017 at 5:31 pm Reply

    arrrrgghhhh I keep forgetting…#countrykidsfun !!

    • admin

      6th February 2017 at 12:55 pm Reply

      me too!

  • Jim

    5th February 2017 at 6:55 pm Reply

    Dexterity skills are much easier to acquire when one is young.

    • admin

      6th February 2017 at 12:58 pm Reply

      Definitely, and hopefully the play and exercise they do now will hold them in good stead as they grow, as it did for us with all the bike riding, swimming and whatnot you and mum did with us xxx

  • Josefine

    5th February 2017 at 8:35 pm Reply

    I couldn’t agree more, it’s so important to get our kids outside! Out exploring, climbing, biking and balancing xx #countrykids

    • admin

      6th February 2017 at 12:59 pm Reply

      Thanks for commenting, lets hope for plenty of sunshine this week to make all that outside time more appealing 🙂

  • Fiona Cambouropoulos

    6th February 2017 at 10:34 am Reply

    Life is a balancing act, now more than ever with the ever growing demand by kids for playing on line games and chatting on social channels. I see it with my own kids, but balance is important and getting outdoors and taking basic risks with outdoor play is vital. As you say we have to close our eyes sometimes as parents, but they have to learn outdoor gross motor skills but doing and exploring.

    Thank you for sharing your views with me on #CountryKids

    • admin

      6th February 2017 at 1:01 pm Reply

      Thanks for commenting 🙂 Sometimes I literally close my eyes!

  • Karen | TwoTinyHands

    8th February 2017 at 8:06 pm Reply

    Yes I completely agree with you that our kiddies need a bit more active. My son is still quite young and he’s not really discovered screens yet. I totally hope to limit it for as long as possible. Very interesting! #countrykids

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