Play for Life. The science and the solution. POSTED ON 11/07/2019
We want more children to grow and develop healthily and benefit from a lifetime of physical activity and mental wellbeing. The formative preschool years provide a perfect opportunity to create a positive relationship with movement that will last a lifetime.
There is now a proven link between activity levels in children as young as 12 months old, while they develop their gross motor skills, and their physical, academic and emotional confidence in adulthood. Research suggests that children with poor motor coordination participate in less physical activity, have higher BMI and are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Much like early learning techniques, where children must grasp the basic foundations of the alphabet before they can learn to read, children must establish essential movements, before moving on to more challenging physical activities and honing their skills.
The more confident they are when they secure these movements, the more confident they will become in their natural ability. They will be more likely to enjoy physical challenges as they grow, and this confidence crosses into an academic and emotional ability.
We’ve been working with Brytespark Limited, a team of experts in biomechanics, child development, fitness training, podiatry, physiotherapy and athletics, to bring you the very latest thinking in young children’s physical development.
The Play for Life campaign is a result of this work. We have combined the basic principles of gross motor development with the concept of Deliberate Play and devised games for adults to play with little ones, that will help them to build confidence and a life-long love of exercise.
Good habits begin early
Experts call the early years of gross motor development, from around 12 months to 7 years, the ‘Fundamental Patterns’ period. This is ‘base camp’ for establishing movements that will become a person’s bedrock for life. Throughout our lives, we constantly return back to these fundamental patterns while we hone new skills. If we secure these movements with confidence, we create a foundation for a positive relationship with our bodies.
During this period of development, a broad array of movement activities, in a supportive environment is highly beneficial. This will give the child the very best chance of establishing a confidence and openness to try new things and a higher level of skill should they choose to pursue sport as they grow.
Although most children will eventually achieve the ‘Fundamental Patterns’, experts now say they can see differences between children who had a varied experience of movement at a young age, compared to those who didn’t.
It’s important not to bracket children’s development by age alone, but rather a readiness to move on. Don’t rush a child through the stage or expect too much, too quickly. Creating a steady confidence in ability is more important than reaching milestones early.
At this early stage of development your child is mastering their posture and balance, standing up and taking their first steps. At this point, use our Mini Micro 3in1 scooter in Stage 1, with seat and o-bar. It enables children to explore a range of movements, develop dynamic balance and build confidence in their ability. The o-bar is specifically designed for little hands to easily grip and the seat enables the child to explore movement, understand the power in their legs to propel them forward and the need to alternate between legs in order to keep in a straight line. This is building a subconscious confidence in their independence and the ability of their own body to get them from A to B.
Once the child is confident in standing upright, toddling and picking up a pace, they will start to apply the fundamental patterns they have already developed to specific tasks. For example, they won’t just scoot for scooting sake, they will have a plan as to where they want to go!
How well they do this, will be determined by their engagement in an activity.
Our Mini Micro 3in1 in Stage 2 with o-bar and Micro Scooter Balance Bike with smart, flexing stabilisers that create a larger surface area, will help the child to develop their co-ordination, balance and improve their spatial awareness as they start to pick up speed. Whether indoors or out, show the child how to wear a helmet. Putting it on and using the equipment while wearing the helmet will help to build confidence in their independence and belief in their ability. They may be more likely to try new moves, because they have established the basics and they are confident they can return safely to those basics, if they start to feel too challenged.
Once the toddling stage is over and the child is moving with more balance and co-ordination, and walking with less of a ‘stomping’ gait, they can move onto Stage 3. Children who have experienced a broad base of movement challenges, will be more proficient, confident little ones. They’re now ready to hone their cognitive decision making skills and spatial awareness and physically their muscles and core strength. For most children, this stage begins at around 24+m.
The Micro Scooter Mini Micro in Stage 3, with T-bar handle or the Micro Scooter Balance Bike with, or without stabilisers helps them to build confidence as they travel more quickly from A-B. The suspension built into the scooter will protect eager little ones from bumps in the road and The T-Bar handle enables children to hold a suitable upright posture that will build their core strength and help them to control their movements.
Introducing Deliberate Play
Deliberate Play is a technique that is widely adopted in the US, Canada and Australia. The theory is that when play becomes meaningful and deliberate it is a precursor to a lifetime of activity. In Deliberate Play, adults engage in the child’s activity, support and guide. When a child is encouraged to find unique solutions to movement challenges, given goal specific tasks, creative themes or ‘family’ rules to traditional games, the play becomes more challenging, stimulating and rewarding.
It is our premise that when play is deliberate, it will help a child to secure its early movement milestones for physical development with more confidence, meaning they are more likely to try new physical challenges and continue exercising and enjoy physical fitness into later life.
Micro Scooters nursery and preschool product ranges are designed to support the critical developmental stage of 12-36 months. Our Deliberate Play games have been designed for children during this developmental stage, using Micro Scooter products that are best suited for their ability.