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From Our Physical Therapist (Nov. 2015)

From Our Physical Therapist
Posted on 11/09/2015
My name is Jodi Leahy. As the physical therapist at the Peabody, I help children to develop the strength, balance, coordination and motor planning skills needed to safely navigate the school environment and participate in school based movement activities – including recess, gym and classroom movement activities. The focus is on large motor / gross motor skills, and the foundations of strength, balance; coordination and motor planning needed to accomplish those skills. Exercise is important in the development of gross motor skills, and core strength is particularly important, as it helps us to sit up while doing work, and is needed for skilled use of our arms and legs for activities such as handwriting, kicking a ball, and running. Exercise is more than sit-ups and push-ups – it is ACTIVE PLAY and should be part of every child’s daily routine as it impacts physical, social, as well as cognitive development. With the weather getting colder, and the days shorter there will be less opportunity for outdoor play, so it will be particularly important to find other ways to incorporate movement into a daily routine. Some ideas to meet that end…
  1. Yoga – choose a few simple positions to build core strength and improve balance. My favorites include: “superkid” (on stomach lift arms legs, and head from the floor), “table” (face up, lift body from floor, with arms and legs acting as “legs to the table”), “boat” (sit on bottom and lift arms and legs), and “Down Dog” (start lying on stomach, move into a hands and feet position, with body in a “V” position). Hold these positions for a count of 10 and do 3-4 repetitions each.
  2. Walk to/ from school if you live close enough and if not, take a walk, bike ride or run before / after dinner.
  3. Stop at the playground before or after school. In the morning it is a good “wake up” activity in preparation for a day of learning. After school, it’s a great break / helps to energize the body and mind before tackling homework.
  4. Play movement games such as Twister, Hullabaloo, Wiggle & Giggle, I Can Do That, and if you enjoy video games, then Wii.
  5. Have a dance party, play catching/throwing games with a ball / beanbags, etc.
  6. Sports such as swimming, skating and karate are great for building core strength, balance and coordination.
It’s important to find things that your child enjoys, as they will be more likely to follow through. Put exercise / ACTIVE PLAY on the calendar every day and enjoy!