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M is for Monkey Bars

Getting Ready for Writing

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A child's hand is a powerful tool for learning. With their hands they can control the world around them, build and create all that they can imagine, and express themselves, first in gestures, then with scribbles, and eventually with the written word. So to get ready for all of that, put your pencils down and go play on the monkey bars.

 

The Natural Order of Things

Children's muscle control and coordination is developed in a natural, orderly way that insures that the large muscles necessary for coordination and locomotion (getting from here to there) are well organized and in control, before taking on the complex mastery of the more than 60 combined muscles in the hands. In short, the hands come last. That’s why writing isn’t all in the fingers. In fact, it involves much of the whole body. If any of those muscles (large and small) aren’t ready, it’s going to be difficult and frustrating for them to write.

Which brings us full circle back to the monkey bars.

 

Climbing, hanging, swinging, and any other high-energy activities build upper body and core muscle strength.

 

Twisting, turning, dangling, and swinging helps develop the flexibility and agility necessary for rotating the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers.

 

Pushing, pulling, tugging, and lifting themselves up builds strength while developing an intuitive understanding of simple physics such as weight, pressure, and resistance.

 

And when they come off the monkey bars, Messy Play is ideal for building up strength and dexterity in the hand muscles. Play-Doh, sand and water play, mud (yes, mud!), is great sensory experience for the brain and hands which one day may result in neater handwriting!

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Wall Walking

Upper body strength is needed for everything from handwriting to the monkeybars. Take off their shoes and socks. Have your child stand with their back and feet up against the wall. Next, bend down and place both hands on the floor. Then go wall walking, stepping backwards up the wall until their body is in a straight line (like a handstand). Support them as they try. Then slowly walk back down.

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In small spaces kids feel BIG!

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The only to develop balance is by moving.

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