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Sunday, September 2, 2018

7 Ways That Balancing Equipment and Games Help Child Development

Photo by Robert Murphy (Flickr)

I took my girls bike-riding last night, and we had quite the adventure. Both of my girls attempted to ride over a narrow rail and fell off of their bikes. They're both OK, but that experience reminded me of the importance of balance.

Balance is the ability to control our body's position, and it's important whether we stand still (static) or move (dynamic). We can use balance equipment, such as balance beams, wobbly pebbles, and stepping stools, and play balance games like hopscotch and freeze tag with our kids so they can develop balance and their bodies in seven important ways.

Balance Develops Coordination

With coordination skills, our kids can perform complicated movements with mobility and flexibility. For example, they can step up onto a curb without tripping, run around the playground and not collide with other kids or the equipment, and catch or throw a ball with ease. These and other actions are possible because our kids have practiced their balance and developed coordination.

Balance Improves Core Strength

Kids of all ages use balance to develop their core strength. That strength ultimately enables babies to roll over, toddlers to walk, and big kids to run. Additionally, core strength equips our kids to function during the day and play as they sit properly in a chair, stand tall in line, climb a ladder, and jump rope.

Balance Enables Sports Participation

When our kids play sports and games with their peers, they get physical exercise, build important social relationships, and develop confidence. Kids need balance to run, jump, or throw, though, since balance is what gives them the ability to make the fluid movements they use as they play sports.

Balance Reduces Injuries

Even though my girls fell off their bikes last night, they were able to put their hands out, stop their falls, and prevent themselves from suffering a serious injury. I attribute this skill to their balance and know that proper balance has helped them avoid injuries as they navigate stairs, walk through crowded hallways, and jump over obstacles, too.

Balance Builds Concentration

I admit that I didn't realize the connection between balance and concentration until I did some research and discovered that our kids often focus more efficiently and faster when their bodies are stable. Instead of thinking about how to sit in the chair without falling over, for instance, they can use their mental energy to focus on the task at hand, whether they're coloring, taking a test, or listening to the teacher.

Balance Supports Fine Motor Skills

The next time your kids write a letter, button their shirt, or cut paper dolls with scissors, watch their balance, posture, and core. Our kids can perform these and other fine motor skills with confidence thanks to proper balance.

Balance Enhances Table Activities

My girls usually eat, draw, and take tests at a desk or table. They can sit properly to perform these tasks because they've developed balance while playing hopscotch, walking on narrow beams at the park, and standing on a balance board.

The next time our kids play balance games and on balance equipment, we can remember that these activities support their development in seven important ways. I know my girls and I will head outside tonight to ride our bikes. What activities will you and your kids do to improve their balance?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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