For many children, the idea of climbing a vertical climbing wall seems totally impossible and dreadfully scary. However, getting children to try climbing walls and physical apparatus is a great way to boost their confidence, as well as help with hand-eye co-ordination and concentration. This doesn't mean to say you should rush out to your nearest climbing wall and get them heading into the sky. Instead, try out a few climbing activities at home and see how they get on.
Stepping stones at the park are a great way to start off if you have any near your home. If not, make a few using sheets of paper on your lawn!
Climbing a tree is fun and even getting a little height by themselves (or a little help) can be very rewarding for the children, make sure the child is supervised at all times to avoid danger.
Walking along a low wall is great for balance and gross motor skills.
Stepping over huge tree roots can be tricky and a good practice activity for balance and concentration.
Traversing walls have become more popular recently and many children's centres and community centres have low, easily accesses climbing holes and stones so children can move along the wall from right to left rather than climb upwards. This is ideal for little ones scared of being too high off the floor.
It's all good physical practice and great fun for all ages children. Just take care not to believe those who think they can do it alone until you see it for yourself so stay close by!
Toddlers are reknowned for falling over: although they try very hard to walk and run, they often end up in a pile on the floor; learning and falling over is all part of the process!
Every day your toddler is learning and through playing simple games they are constantly working towards acquiring new skills. Here are a few examples of what children are actually learning (without realising!) when they are playing with various toys:-
Ride-on toys (scooters, trucks, trikes etc) - strengthen muscles and improve balance. They also give your toddler a sence of mobility and the idea that then can get around the place in different ways.
Trundle truck (shopping cart or toy lawn mower) - these are great for balance and improving walking and running skills. They are also great for role play. Don't limit your children to the stereotypes though. Why shouldn't a boy have a dolly pram and a girl have truck?
Obstacle course - put some rope in a curvey line on the ground or a plank of wood if you have one. Make stepping stones with sheets of newspaper. See if they can negotiate the obstacles.
Rolling a ball - All children love balls. Although toddlers can't really kick a ball while standing on one foot, they can knee it or move it along with a push. This helps their balance and to understand the idea of cause and effect, that if you push a ball, it will roll.
So, give them plenty of opportunity to play with different toys and keep them active. Try out other people's toys and swap larger toys with other families so everyone gets a taste of diferent things to play on (without the expense!).
Give them plenty of encouragement and be enthusiastic when they ask to go out to play no matter the weather. Supporting children by keeping them enthusiastic and encouraged is vital. Give them freedom to explore too - if they want to walk along a low wall then give them your hand, put an arm round them and let them try it out! It will make them even more keen to try new things.
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