How Gross Motor Development Impacts Cognition in Kids
Watching your baby, toddler and pre-schooler develop is one of the most fulfilling elements of parenting. Long before they utter their first word or take their first steps, they are putting in the work to ensure that they reach each developmental milestone. While watching your baby roll over or seeing your pre-schooler learn to jump is satisfying in itself, there is something even more exciting happening underneath the surface. Gross motor skill development has long been linked with cognitive function and there are some surprising connections that you may not know about. Here’s how some significant gross motor milestones are linked to cognitive function in children.
They’ve rolled, developed neck strength, increased their core stability and then suddenly, all the dots connect and your baby is able to sit on their own. Not only does this mean that you get a break as they discover their new perspective, it also signals an exciting time ahead for your baby; independent play! So, how can we ensure that we’re giving our little ones plenty of opportunity to develop the skills required to sit independently? Here at Acro Kids, we use a mix of tummy time, sitting with support (whilst in their carer’s lap), and a combination of reaching, grasping and rolling activities. Sitting independently means more eye contact, more experimental play with objects and more problem solving. This all translates to strengthening cognitive function for babies aged 0-12 months and beyond.
Crossing the midline
Adults probably perform this task several times a day without even realising! However, make no mistake, the ability to cross the midline of your body is, in fact, a skill-one which is not typically developed until children are around 4 or 5 years of age. So why is the coordination involved in moving the left arm and right leg or right arm and left leg at the same time so important? It allows children to play sport, get dressed, dance, scratch an elbow, climb and many other day-to-day activities. Crossing the midline also helps build pathways in the brain and is an important prerequisite skill required for the appropriate development of various motor and cognitive skills. All our play-based classes present opportunities for this cross-lateral motion, giving Acro Kids kids a head start in skill such as reading from left to right.
Crawling, running, tumbling and jumping!
Studies involving neuro-imaging have found that increased physical activity promotes the formation of grey matter in the brain. This means that encouraging more physical activity in babies, toddlers and young children will benefit not only their physical development, but their cognition too. All our classes are designed to be FUN. We find that enjoyment of something is a great motivator to keep doing it, so our experienced facilitators put an emphasis on positive reinforcement and encourage kids to play, laugh and have a go.
Mobility, movement and exploring their environment is crucial to the cognitive functioning of children of all ages. It aids in the formation of neural connections as well as promoting confidence and self-esteem. (For more info on how to foster confidence in children, check out our blog post, Raising Confident Kids here + link). As infants and children interact with their external environment, the brain reacts to the input, firing and creating new connections.