In the current “learning” climate, it’s difficult not to get wrapped up in the pressure of having children reading and writing before they get to school. A child’s brain is primarily concerned with developing the child as a whole and it all boils down to early movement experiences. The more a child is able to move; either through early rolls, crawls or simply sitting and standing, the more their brain is gathering information from their surroundings and creating the building blocks for later higher level learning. In the first years of childhood, around 90% of the neural pathways in the brain will be set for life.
Reading and writing will come in time, what is essential before they get to school is… movement.
If a child can’t sit upright and have core balance, how will they sit at a desk and take in information from the teacher?
The proprioceptive and vestibular sense is vital for this, both stimulated through movement.
If a child doesn’t have the strength in their arms, how will they manipulate a pen with fine motor control?
Through crawling, weight bearing, grabbing grasping and muscular development this is accomplished.
If a child can’t move their body from left to right to track a car, how will they cross the road?
Each time a child tracks a bubble across their body or is able to right themselves after rolling down a hill, they’re one step closer from using depth perception to figure out how far away a car is and look from left to right and back again.
Through the 7 (yes 7!) senses, children take in information about their surroundings, the brain organises this information and provides an output, movement. Early movement experiences, such as rolling or sitting upright require a development in the vestibular system, essential for everyday life! The vestibular system is the earliest sense to develop in the womb and is responsible for spatial awareness, balance and eye tracking, 3 vital tools for being able to negotiate the world.
Each time a child goes out of their upright position; think rolling or going upside down, the vestibular sense sorts the information about which way is up and which way is down then stabilises the eye in order to regain balance. In a wider sense of its importance, this is the process which helps you maintain an upright stationary position to read this blog from left to right across the page (and being able to distinguish the different between letters like “b” and “d”)
At The Little Gym, it fills us with pride to see children each day testing their bodies and developing new skills through gymnastics based movement. For children between 4 months and 12 years we know each week they’re having Serious Fun each time they enter the gym.
“The more a child moves, the more a child knows, the more a child knows, the more they want to know and the more the child wants to know, the more a child needs to know” (A Moving Child is a Learning Child - Connell and McCarthy 2014)