Modern parents get plenty of reminders to strive for a healthy family lifestyle so that children develop well: good nutrition, good sleep habits and plenty of exercise. But what exactly is the link between being physically strong and coordinated and the ability for deep attention and focus?
Core strength is the cornerstone. Strong muscles in the torso that align and stabilize the body are the basic foundation for a child’s development in both complex physical movement and in mental stamina.
The more that children practice upper and lower body coordination and balancing skills as they grow, the more they will develop the fine and gross motor skills they need; and they will have more energy to concentrate on demanding mental tasks.
Here are three fun and challenging moves to do with children that will build core strength, improve upper and lower extremity motor control and visual and spatial focus.
- Place your forearms on the floor or a mat with the elbows aligned below the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body at shoulder-width distance.
- Push toes into the floor and squeeze the backside muscles to move the body up.
- Look ahead to a spot on the floor beyond the hands.
- Hold the position for five to ten seconds and then come back down.
- Lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
- Keeping the arms and legs straight (but not locked) and torso stationary, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling. The back arches and arms and legs lift several inches off the floor.
- Hold for two to five seconds and lower back down.
- One child kneels down and places hands on the floor in front of the body.
- Another child or a parent holds the legs and lifts while the “wheelbarrow” child presses the hands on the floor and walks forward using the arms.
- The child’s back should be straight. If it bows or bends into an inverted V it means that more support is needed. Simply hold the legs closer to the body, for example at the knees or at the thighs.
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