Movement is as critical for brain development as it is for gross and fine motor skill development. Since memory and movement are linked, the more times your child experiences specific activities they are also learning about skilled movements such as holding their own bottle or how to open and close a door.
From birth, you can help your child with their mental and physical development by providing them with a safe place to move and experience their surroundings and senses. The more free-movement (rolling, scooting, running, skipping, hopping, etc.) children have, the better for the development of their frontal cortex which is the location of higher order thinking.
How Can You Encourage Your Child to Move?
Parents and caregivers should interact with babies often. For example: touching their baby’s faces and hands, guiding the baby’s hands to touch the parent’s face, gently moving their legs like a bicycle, etc.
Give your baby daily tummy time. Place toys just out of their reach to encourage them to stretch and begin to crawl.
Hang interesting and colorful mobiles in their crib that has your baby wanting to reach or kick towards it.
Play music and dance with your baby.
Don’t try to restrict their movement. They need to try a variety of activities that help them learn gross motor skills. For example: play catch with a soft, small ball, let them kick a soccer ball around the house or outside, help them roll on big yoga balls while on their tummy, and etc.
Big building blocks, stacking cones and rings, and large floor puzzles are good for both fine and gross motor skills as well as creativity and problem-solving.
Find activities that promote cross lateral movement, such as hand clap games that stretch from one side of the body to the other or kicking a ball with alternating feet. These activities work both sides of the body evenly and involve coordinated movements of both eyes, hands, and feet.
Challenge your preschoolers to contests: hopping, balancing on one foot, crab-walking, etc.
The park can be a great place to encourage more activity such as dribbling a ball or hanging upside down on monkey bars.
Preschoolers love rough-and-tumble play like wrestling and climbing on you.