Monday, June 4, 2012

Motor Development

It has been quite a spell since we talked about gross and fine motor development. A grandmother that I know posts photos of her little granddaughter on Facebook–the little one is not yet a year old, and looking at the photos as they have come into my computer over time, has given me a sequential glimpse at motor development.
In those moments after birth when the parents first cuddle the newborn, they instinctually support the baby’s head and limbs. The newborn is able to use his muscles a little for some turning of the head and movement of limbs, but there is no strength to his movements so mom and dad are careful to support his body as they lift and hold him.
In my early days of parenting, positioning the baby on his tummy or side for sleeping was considered good, so my little ones were often laid down on their tummies. Very early on they were able to lift their head enough to turn from one side to another. The combination of arching the back and lifting the head is a movement that begins the chain of motor events that lead the newborn to standing upright within a year.
As our little ones gain control over their head and neck muscles, the muscles around the spine also become stronger. This leads parents to being able to position the 4 to 6 month old in a sitting position, but with support. Being able to sit frees the baby to practice fine motor skills and practice they do!–reaching, bringing toys to the mouth, dropping, picking up again–are practiced over and over. The connections to the brain are strengthened as the baby strengthens his upper body. He has now the power to reach for a toy he wants and to use his senses and his brain to learn more about his world.

A rhythmic chant

The fingerband is coming to town,
Coming to town, coming to town.
The fingerband is coming to town
Coming to town today

Begin with hands behind your back, march them out to the front.

The fingerband is playing the drums
Playing the drums, playing the drums
The fingerband is playing the drums
Playing the drums today.

For subsequent verses pretend to play whatever instruments you and your child can think of.

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