balance activities for kids

Activities for Balance and Coordination in Children

Activities for Balance and Coordination in Children

To understand balance and coordination in children and the activities for these, let us look at what they are:

Balance is the ability to maintain the body position while performing a task. This is either static or dynamic.

Coordination is the ability to use limbs and eyes, in sync, to skillfully perform a task. It is the ability to use muscles at the correct time with the correct intensity.

Balance and coordination activities begin very early. For example, a baby learns to move from supine to side-lying. Then on tummy, and tummy to side-lying and lastly back to supine. Coordinated movements of the limbs, core muscles, and neck rolling help these movements. Therefore all motor milestones develop when balance and coordination work fine. Thus, they are a function of the intact neuromuscular system.

Balance and coordination in children allow them to interact meaningfully with their environment. Thus, they fulfill various demands of a task. Poor balance and coordination result in frequent falls. Secondly, They contribute to poor writing or prewriting skills. Thirdly, they affect performance in activities of daily living. Above all, they cause poor play skills and hence an inability to engage in games with peers.

This affects the self-image and self-esteem of the child.

What affects balance and coordination?

The following factors contribute to concerns arising from poor balance and coordination skills:

  • Fluctuations in tone
  • Weak Muscles
  • Low endurance
  • Poor range of motion
  • Dyspraxia
  • Brain injuries or infections, tumors, meningitis

Contributing factors to developing good balance and coordination are:

  • Good reflexes
  • good tone
  • muscle strength, and muscle endurance
  • good postural control and body awareness
  • bilateral integration and
  • sensory processing.

Intervention to improve balance and coordination:

We begin with muscle strengthening and smaller movements. This progresses to the repetition of movements. Later, the therapist increases the complexity of the movement task. Then,  the selected activities are performed at a faster pace. For compromised proprioceptive or tactile sense, vision is used to train the child. Understanding the expected movements is encouraged by looking at the movement performed.

Activities to improve balance and coordination are:

Movement-based Activities:

  1. The child performs animal walks like crab, duck, bear, and elephant. . Also hopping, creeping, crawling are great gross motor activities. And, they help a child move both sides of his body in a coordinated manner.
  2. For Balance, moving between hurdles, mazes, or uneven surfaces provides are excellent examples. Here the child moves on different surfaces. These surfaces provide different heights, different stability. Some are wobbly, some squishy. Also, correcting the body position while walking on these surfaces help with balance. Following this, increase the speed of moving this way!
  3. Wheelbarrow walking  provides very good muscle inputs and motor coordination with the use of upper limbs. Fantastic proximal control is gained during this activity. The core is used to maintain body position. A note of caution, look for signs of fatigue in the child while providing this walk. Make sure you support both limbs equally and keep them supported throughout these walks.
  4. Crawling under tunnels is another good activity. The child crawls on his forearms and moves forward. Make it difficult by placing cushions inside the tunnel!

Watch a detail video on fine motor skills now

Games for Balance and Coordination:

  • Games like badminton, tennis, and cricket. They provide ample opportunities for coordination, both gross and fine. Can you hit the ball? Can you run faster?
  • Craft activities to develop visual and fine motor skills and perception. Have the child draw, cut, color, dab, or stick!
  • Balance board activities in sitting, standing: They help excellently with balance, body positions, and core stability.
  • Play target games: The person with maximum paper balls in the bin wins! Also, did you miss a hi-5?
  • Holding body position games like ‘statue’. How long can you hold this position? Can you do so a little longer?
  • Involve the child in string beading, use of scissors, drawing, tracing, coloring for fine motor coordination.
  • Cycling or swimming both provide large, coordinated movements and balancing opportunities
Therapist’s Role:

Occupational Therapist helps children develop good balance and coordination skills through these activities. They help with improving fine and gross motor skills, postural control, strengthening of upper limbs and core. In addition, a therapist can help with affected play skills or limited peer interaction.

Activities of Daily Living:

The therapist also helps with the coordination needed in daily life. These include skills of self-care, writing, feeding, and dressing. Sometimes, the therapist suggests environmental modifications like the installation of bars and handles for support. Also, to enable independence for an individual with balance issues, recommendations include using anti-skid mats while bathing, or using stabilizing table mats for plates.

Therefore, get in touch with a therapist if your child has issues with balance and coordination

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Amruta Tamboli
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