Balancing is a skill that calls on many body systems to work
together. Body position, muscle and skeletal control, tactile
feedback, motor coordination and visual processing all combine to
create the multi-sensory ability to balance our bodies.
This is a skill that requires practice.
Kids also need to learn to balance things outside of themselves.
Being able to balance objects affects how children understand and
interact with their world.
It's worth spending a day of play teaching your child to balance
both themselves and the things around them.
A balanced diet helps create a body that is fit and easier to
balance. Most experts recommend a balance of protein, fruits,
vegetables, grain and dairy. Have your child draw on a paper plate
the letters P, F, V, G and D for the food types and have them put
their breakfast items in the right section of the plates to help
learn which foods comprise these different food groups. Then open
your pantry or cabinet and have the kids guess which food groups
the items would go into.
Once the kids are fueled up, it's an ideal time to get them into
body balancing movements.
This can be as simple as putting some masking tape on the floor
and creating a pretend story about how they need to walk a
tightrope across a raging river to escape. Throw some blankets on
either side to mimic waves and have the kids be playful in their
attempts to walk the line.
Or dig out some games and toys that build balance, such as
Hullabaloo, a game by Cranium that asks kids to jump, run, skip or
fly to different mats all the while exploring balance and movement.
Weplay makes a playset called Step Challenge where kids need to
navigate over wavy foam blocks to work on body shifting, balancing
and fun.Parents can create their own obstacle course (with pillows,
chairs and boxes on the floor) for kids to move through, step on,
and balance their bodies while creating some imaginative play
Next offer kids a lesson on balancing objects. You can be
creative and use Kleenex boxes, tennis balls and books to initiate
a building project or start small with a building set that has
various shapes like the Elemenosqueeze by B. toys. Have the kids
choose a structure they want to design, such as their dream home or
a castle, and let the little architects explore both the balancing
and the toppling effect.
Building block lunch
Lunch can continue the balance lesson by making food into
building blocks. Take various shaped crackers and cut up some
cheese blocks or triangles. Let your little ones build a structure
out of them. Use grapes to make wheels and put a cracker on them to
make a trailer and balance other lunch items on top.
Introduce imaginative play by having kids create a story around
their creations and then, like hungry giants, eat the structures
Getting out and getting active
Encourage kids to explore their balance points.
Strider Bikes took the pedals off traditional two-wheeler bikes
and found that kids can better concentrate on the singular task of
learning to balance before mastering pedals.
Spooner Boards are another way for kids to 'surf' a variety of
surfaces, including carpets, gravel, grass or snow. These
surfboard-like play discs offer hours of exploratory body balancing
both inside and outdoors. You can add in other balance-builders
like jump ropes and hula hoops.
Balance can be built-just like strong
bodies-so give your child a steady diet of balance-building play
opportunities whenever you can.
Ellen Metrick is director of Industry Relations and Partnerships for the National Lekotek Center and a member of Chicago Special Parent’s advisory board. Lekotek is a leading authority on toys and play for children with disabilities.
What to do with your weekend, delivered every Thursday.
Great deals and chances to win prizes, delivered every Monday.
Exclusive offers from our partners,usually delivered twice a week.
Resources for parents of children with special needs,delivered the second Tuesday each month.