By Jane Kilkenny
Motion and movement are essential for development in our kids. Fundamental motor skills such as run, jump, skip, hop, throw and catch all need attention from an early age. FMS all work together to develop physical literacy and body confidence, and we can start enhancing these skills in toddlers.
Whilst the first steps are our biggest milestone, once we are up and moving speed becomes a priority so the natural progression is wanting to run. Despite the risks and the number of falls kids are rarely deterred from getting there in a hurry. Running creates a desire for independence and is easily transformed into a game of chasey from an early age.
Whilst we do not need to focus on technical run training in our toddlers we should be encouraging them to run at every opportunity. It’s also an essential element in our skeletal development as load bearing exercise stimulates growth.
Jumping is fun and becomes a key skill for many sports. Safe take off and landing skills are important and even before children can walk they will often begin bouncing up and down whilst holding on to the hands of adults.
Skipping is another key movement pattern that many children now struggle with. Skipping is a crucial skill for improving run technique as it is fundamentally a single leg loading pattern. Skipping with a rope is also important for jumping skills and a great fun fitness activity.
Hopscotch is another great game for young kids. Hopping on one leg is important for developing balance skills, stability in the ankles, knees and hips, and closely linked to running, skipping and jumping.
Learning to catch and throw a ball can also be started with very young toddlers. The important thing to remember is to use a ball that is age appropriate, starting with something very soft and quite large. This will ensure that the child is not hurt or frightened by the object even if it does contact them.
Ball skills again provide an opportunity to play, promote skill development and facilitate sports as kids grow and develop.
When children do not have these fundamental motor skills they are often reluctant to play sport. These skills are a very important part of a healthy childhood and often play a significant role in lifelong health. Taking the time to play games and practice motor skills with toddlers is fun, rewarding and a beautiful bonding experience.
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