Our friends at Community Playthings recently published an article all about how children find their balance.
Being able to balance is a key milestone in a child’s early development and forms the foundations for many movements. Many children find their balance naturally through playing and learning and in order to do this they will have crossed their “centre line” – the line that runs down the middle of their bodies.
For some children however, crossing the centre line can be difficult. Through observations, it can be quite easy to tell who has crossed their centre line and who might need extra support to be able to do so. Community Playthings identify an easy way to tell if a child has crossed their centre line: when painting, children will hold the brush in their left hand and paint to the middle of the paper; they then move the brush to the right hand and continue.
One very easy exercise to help children cross the centre line is the ‘lazy 8’. The lazy 8 activity involves children drawing the number 8 which is on its side. The activity can be carried out very easily – using paper, fingers, paint – and completed on the floor or walls. Children can start in the middle and trace up to the right, keeping their finger or pen on the paper before crossing the middle and tracing up to the left. Children find this very therapeutic and crossing the centre line is also crucial to children being able to read and write.
Balance is also very important in how children move and you may notice that some children cannot walk across a room without touching surfaces and may misjudge space and sit on something or someone accidentally, or knock items out of the way. This is another way to identify if children haven’t quite found their balance yet and it can be crucial to help these children quickly to make sure their confidence isn’t impacted. Often these are boys too who develop physically later than girls.
Outdoor play and climbing can be excellent in helping children to find their balance and there are many resources and activities which children can take part in individually or in a team – such as climbing frames and balance beams. At Bright Horizons we encourage children to explore the outdoors every day and many of our nurseries boast forest schools, large garden play areas and free flow environments. Our Growing Gardeners and Active Athletes enhancements also encourage children to be confident outside and bring learning to life.