Balance and coordination are two fundamental skills which all toddlers and children learn:
Balance – Balance is split into two kinds; static and dynamic. Static balance is the ability to control the body and maintain a position when standing still and dynamic is the ability to maintain equilibrium when moving.
Coordination – Is the ability to use different body parts smoothly and efficiently together. It is a complex skill which also requires balance.
Together these two core skills help to prevent injury, maintain appropriate body gestures, encourage good posture and aid fluid body movements during any physical performance. Both are developed significantly from toddler age right up until around 16 years old. They can still be improved after that age with training and practise.
Playgrounds have a lot to offer when it comes to child development and are the perfect place for sharpening those physical and mental skills. Encouraging a child to use particular pieces of playground equipment can help a lot with their balance and coordination, for example:
– Walking on different levelled surfaces and terrains will strengthen core muscles as they have to work harder to keep the body upright.
– Trying out some unstable play equipment such as swings or a wobbly bridge can be a great balance challenge.
– Stepping stones (or any game which involves big jumps) requires coordination and balance.
– Hopscotch is a good game as it gets the child to switch rapidly between actions.
– Riding a bike or scooter is quite an advanced activity as it requires constant small positioning adjustments.
– Any activity involving running, skipping, jumping etc will help with coordination and with muscle strength which in turn helps with balance ability.
– Walking backwards and forwards on a balance beam will help them learn how to maintain control of their body.
Remember that each child develops at a different rate. Some learn these skills much faster than others and some children need some extra coaching. With gentle encouragement and quality time at the playground, balance and coordination can gradually be improved!
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