Friday, January 8, 2010

Movement ABC's and 123's for Toddlers and Preschoolers

It was so exciting when my daughter took her first steps. When she let go of my hands and teetered away. As she got older I wanted to help her discover more about her body, facilitate body awareness and help her with her gross motor skills. But how was I going to do this?  The answer I discovered was simpler then you might think. 

I moved with her!

As your child masters different skills like rolling, crawling and walking it is important to “review these skills.” It might seem silly at first to get on the floor with your child and roll with her. You might think that she already knows how to do this but movement is a layered experience, which means we relearn the same concepts over and over and each time we relearn it we get better at it. Crawling is a contralateral movement and so is walking.  (Contralateral movement is when the right arm and left leg are moving simultaneously and vice versa. So mastering crawling will help a child master walking, running, leaping, etc.)

Cool isn’t it?

Another example is when my daughter as a baby rocked on her hands and knees before crawling. She was practicing pushing from her feet, the same concept that she re-explored when she learned to walk and jump.

Why move with your child?

Well, first it is great bonding time. You are performing an activity together and communicating non-verbally. You get to experience what your child just discovered and believe it or not rolling, creeping and crawling is good for you too! We never stop relearning skills! And lastly, if you start moving with your child at a young age, you are setting up great habits that will last. Exercise/moving will always be a special time together.

Here are some essential skills for the both of you to review and rediscover:
  • Rocking on hands and knees
  • Rolling
  • Crawling
  • Finding new ways of pushing and pulling yourself around the floor on your belly and back

And for my teachers reading this blog, I have done this in preschool classrooms as well to squeals and delight!

Think of it in terms of mathematics.

You can’t learn to divide or multiply before you add and subtract.  The same thing is true for the body.

My daughter and I had some of our best giggles rolling on the floor together.  Let me know what you and your children re-discover together! 

Keep moving up down and all around!


  1. Stacey, do you have any creative ideas to do with preschoolers when there is minimal space? I do lots of stretches, and creative thinking, and sometimes animals, but to do rolling and crawling with them is a challenge in a small space. Any ideas? Thanks for the great post!

  2. In a small space, I do a lot with exploring the head-tail connection (top and bottom of the body.) In a table position (on all fours) moving the head first in all sorts of directions, then the tail and then moving the head and tail together. Using cat and cow from yoga as well to feel the relationship (head and tail towards each other curving the back, and then head and tail away, arching the back.) I have done this with kids as young as two and three years old. Also doing down dog but I call it head down, tail up, then tail up head down. Lots of giggling because they never know what will go up and what will go down. We did this in a small space and since none of this travels we can still get the "layered" experience.

    I did try rolling but had to do it one at a time. I do sing with the little ones so a song like "This old man" or "the wheels on the bus." This keeps the kids engaged while waiting for their turn - but I know it is not ideal.

    With all these exercises I believe in repetition. It takes time for the little bodies to incorporate the movements. But after a few weeks, they didn't need prompting to start exploring! And the more they explore the more they learn and integrate the experience.

    I hope these ideas help. Let me know your thoughts and if you try any of these ideas out!

  3. These ideas are great... Maybe I can come up with a song for Cat and Cow- i think this would be a different way of moving for them. Sometimes I feel like it get into doing the same things because of the small space. They are 2 so there attention span is not very long. I may try rolling with my 3's since we have a little more space to work with! I will let you know how it goes after this week! Thanks!