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Reading the Moves

What movement is telling us.

Movement explains so much of children's early development, it's like a language giving us a peek inside their brain, telling us what’s going on and what they may need. But here’s the thing. Most of us don’t know how to “read the moves.” So here’s quick primer. See if you recognize these kids...

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Reading the Moves.

This little one trips a lot, even over nothing at all. This is often a message that they need more information about their body map – the size and shape of their body, where it begins and ends, and how it fits into space. They just don’t know how big they are. (And remember, they’re growing so learning their body map is something they have to do over and over again.)

What You Can Do

Kids That Go Bump need to spend more time in spaces that require them to change their body shape – making themselves longer, wider, shorter, flatter. Something as simple as a cardboard box can be tons of fun. Set up a tunnel made of sheets, or navigate the legs of the dining room table and chairs. Any place where they are moving under, over, between and around is teaching them about themselves.

The Kid Who Goes Bump

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Reading the Moves.

When this little one is concentrating hard on moving sometimes they stick out their tongue. This is called Motor Overflow. When the brain is working out how to coordinate the body, sometimes it gets a little overwhelmed. It sends energy to the tongue* almost like a movement counterweight.

What You Can Do

Nothing. It’s adorable, normal, and harmless. Just keep moving and one day your child’s coordination will mature and they won’t need the tongue’s assistance any more.

The Tongue

*Fun Fact: the tongue is the only muscle in located on the center line of body that can pivot right and left.

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The Eye Rubber

Reading the Moves.

Children who rub their eyes, blink a lot, or look away from the page when reading may be telling us their eyes are tired. Reading is physical. It requires the muscles in the eyes to move precisely and rapidly. If the eyes aren’t ready they won’t perform well. And worse, it may leave an impression that reading is difficult or worse, no fun.

What You Can Do

Playing outside is a great place to start. There’s so much to see that the eyes are constantly moving. Focal development is also at work, from seeing friends in the distance to flowers close up. Though screen time appears to be visually stimulating, it actually isn’t. Screens keep the eyes locked in one place. To prepare for reading, the eyes need to keep moving.

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The Slumper

Reading the Moves.

Sitting up straight for long periods of time is uncomfortable and challenging for this little one. That’s probably because their core strength needs work.

What You Can Do

Whole body games that involve lifting and carrying, pushing and pulling will help with posture and physical resilience. Try climbing and wheelbarrowing too. And be sure they are getting enough rest. Tired muscles don’t feel good and that will make them want to slump even more.

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What You Can Do

The Pencil Breaker could use more play where he needs refined movements like pouring liquids or sand, stones or other different weighted objects. Games that involve pushing, pulling and lifting are also great. Be sure to vary the weights in these games so they begin to understand not everything requires the same amount of muscle.

The Pencil Breaker

Reading the Moves.

Lots of whole-body play is in order for The Pretzel, especially games that challenge them with high levels of coordinated movement such as opposition (climbing, marching) and single-sided (hopping, scooting, and skipping).

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Reading the Moves.

This child often positions their body in ways that look a bit disorganized. We call that pretzeling. For instance, when writing The Pretzel may sit with one arm underneath them because they find it difficult to hold one side of the body still while the other is moving. Only then can they focus on what they’re writing.

What You Can Do

Lots of whole-body play is in order for The Pretzel, especially games that challenge them with high levels of coordinated movement such as opposition (climbing, marching) and single-sided (hopping, scooting, and skipping).

The Pretzel

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Reading the Moves.

This is the kid who spins and spins until they fall down dizzy. Then they get up and do it again! Spinning is a signal the brain is craving what’s called “vestibular” (inner ear) stimulation. This is how their sense of balance develops in the early years.

What You Can Do

Balance is a critical underpinning to everything we do, so make sure there’s nothing in their way and let them spin.

The Spinner

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