In our previous post we unpacked the forward roll and the various ways to develop confidence in rolling. Many have asked about the developmental importance that a child receives from this particular skill.
Forward rolls speed up the development of body awareness in children. This is linked to our proprioceptive system (the input our brain receives from our joints and muscles). Close your eyes and bring your finger to touch your nose. The ability to know where your nose is without physically seeing it is your proprioceptive sense in action. Children tend to have disorganised processing of these inputs while their brains are developing. To us as fully developed grown-ups, this under development appears as general clumsiness.
"Close your eyes and bring your finger to touch your nose. The ability to know where your nose is without physically seeing it is your proprioceptive sense in action."
Body awareness develops at different rates, however specific exercises can help to speed things up. The forward roll is one of these crucial exercises and although packaged as fun for your child, is the best way for them to understand their body as it moves through space.
Children who have poor body awareness may have difficulty functioning at their age appropriate level and subsequently struggle to learn new tasks as their attention stays focused on their body movements, rather than the task at hand. An example would be a child who writes with extreme force. The child is focused on the appropriate force required to make the pencil write as opposed to the actual content of what they are writing.
3 Signs of poor body awareness
1. Overly clumsy
Children who are constantly running into or tripping over objects like their own feet, do so as they don’t know where their body is in space and are unable to instinctively react to these proprioceptive inputs to steady themselves.
2. Difficulty mimicking movements
Children with poor body awareness struggle to imitate others who show them a movement, for example winking or licking their lips. They cannot understand how to move their body in the same way as they find it difficult to isolate the specific body parts and muscles required to move them.
3. Difficulty in perfecting gross motor activities
Gross motor skills such as rolling, jumping and throwing depend on very controlled inputs from muscles and joints. Children with poor body awareness struggle to process these seemingly instinctual feelings. They find it difficult to move the appropriate muscle groups to perfect the gross motor task. The long term effect of poor gross motor development can cause knock on delays in fine motor development (stacking, lacing, balancing), which will then start to affect a child's ability to write, read and learn later down the line.
"The long term effect of poor gross motor development can cause knock on delays in fine motor development..."
The above are only a few signs of poor body awareness. There are many other more subtle indicators such as biting and pulling on clothing, stomping rather than walking, using extreme force, a preference for sitting still and apprehension or avoidance to complete physical tasks. Body awareness is a skill which is strengthened when practiced. The goal is to find exercises which challenges each child's body awareness without them being consciously aware of the difficulty.
Gymnastics is just one of the many ways to improve and enhance body awareness. Sensory development is complicated and unique to every child.
At Gymkidz we are acutely aware of what to look out for at age appropriate levels and strive to focus on each child’s journey. We introduce special interactions and movements at a time which will have the deepest effect on your child’s overall development.
Want to enhance your child's body awareness, or just want to learn more about what we do? Why not contact us to join us for a trail session and to find out more about our program.
If you would like to suggest a topic or have any suggestion please send us a mail.
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Happy Rolling – Gymkidz | 0406 042 385 | 95 Lennox St Newtown | Gymkidzau@gmail.com