Did you know that half of all school children are not school ready? And by school ready, we don’t mean having the coolest backpack! But physically ready for the demands of a classroom. Maybe your child has completed the SIMPLE Stars programme in pre-school? But if not, read on for some tips and advice to help ensure your child is school ready this September.
Motor Planning is the ability to plan and carry out a skilled, non-habitual motor act in the correct sequence from beginning to end. The benefit being that, any new activity can be figured out with ease.
The Body shake is a great way to develop motor planning. Children start by shaking one hand, then both hands, arm, then both arms, and trunk until the whole of the body is shaking including neck, head and legs.
Standing in line, sitting in a chair and walking safely through the classroom require good balance and the vestibular system which controls balance, should be developed by 4-5 years of age.
Developing the vestibular system to improve balance is fun! It can be done through play and doesn’t require specialist equipment.
You can help your child improve their balance by encouraging them to:
- Roll in the grass, downhill is optional!
- Tumble on the couch
- Go to the playground to ride the merry go round, play on the slide , see-saw and swings
- Ride their scooter or balance bike
In fact, any game that encourages them to move their head side to side or backwards and forwards will shake up the fluid in their vestibular and will help to improve balance.
Bilateral co-ordination is using both sides of the body in a smooth and fluent manner without tying yourself in knots.
Bilateral co-ordination first starts symmetrically using both sides together in the same way and then as the child develops, they co-ordinate them in an alternating way as in climbing a ladder or holding paper with one hand while cutting with the other.
A good way to develop bilateral co-ordination and get your child school ready is through garden games such as:
- throwing and catching
- balloon volleyball
- crawling through tunnels
- climbing a rope
Hand Eye Co-Ordination
Developing a dominant hand and foot and directional awareness is up next. Poor directional awareness may result in reversing b/d, p/q , m/w when your child comes to write letters.
Crawling is a key activity to develop the eyes for reading and writing distance as well as directionality. Play crawling races in the garden or blow table tennis balls across the kitchen floor on a rainy day.
The distance from your child’s eyes to their hands when they crawl is similar to the distance that a book or copybook will be away from them at school. So crawling is not just for babies!
Crossing the Midline
Crossing the midline is the ability to cross an imaginary line down the middle of the body. Hands do it when writing, legs do it when kicking, eyes do it when reading and ears do it when listening!
To develop this essential skill you can play some fun crossing the midline activities such as:
- ‘Simon Says’ touch your elbow, touch your opposite ear etc.
- On sunny days getting the kids to throw water balloons at an off-center target e.g. Mum or Dad!
- Line skittles up and gets the kids to bowl them over
Proprioception enables a child to know what his hands or body parts are doing without looking at them for example to button clothing; find something in a pocket or to remember which way to turn a tap.
Playground proprioception activities can include climbing using a rope, trampoline bouncing and for indoors try throwing and catching a heavy object like a heavy cushion.
Rhythmic movement – keeping a strong steady beat, is fundamental to many life skills which involve rhythm, such as walking, swimming, writing, painting.
Children who cannot keep a steady beat may well have delay in the development of motor skills. Play games like marching on the spot, musical chairs and statues and ball games to encourage rhythmic movement and development. As does experimenting with musical instruments and beating out a tune on saucepans or other household items.
We hope these ideas are useful to get your child school ready for September. For more tips and advice visit SIMPLE Physical Literacy and for those wanting advice on the SIMPLE Stars Programme, the movement programme for Early Years Preschoolers contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Over to you now. Do you think your child is school ready? Please let us know in the comments box below.