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Those of us who grew up in the seventies and the eighties will remember how we used to scoot everywhere as children…especially on those large, two wheeled, big tyred scooters. So much fun! Then, for over a decade, scooters practically disappeared! Thankfully, for our children’s sake, the scooter made a big resurgence. Now, young children again have the opportunity to experience the joy of whizzing along the path, while their balance develops. Safe scooter riding, with helmets on, has so much to offer developing bodies and brains.
Steering the scooter with hands and one foot whilst pushing with the other foot, unconsciously gives both sides of your children’s bodies the opportunity to work together and perfect their sense of balance. Once children have mastered scooting they have few problems with balance. Practiced scooter riders usually don’t need trainer wheels once they graduate to two-wheeler bikes because of their well-developed balance and coordination.
In order for the body to balance upright without falling over, the brain needs to:
- Know where the body parts are.
- Know what the body parts feel like in movement.
- Be able to control them while moving – both sides together, separately and each side independently of the other.
To keep balanced in any position takes a lot of movement planning. The more complicated the movement, the more planning the brain has to do. Usually children are two and a half to three and a half, before they can balance on one foot and later hop on one leg.
Body awareness, muscle tone, vision and inner ear function all must develop before a good sense of balance can be achieved. Well-developed balance is essential for the establishment of integration – that is, for the two sides of the brain to work together. Integration is, in turn, crucially important for successful learning.
Scooting is a great way to perfect balance skills. If your child is three years of age, let him whizz around on a three-wheeled scooter. If your child is four years or over, a two-wheeled scooter makes a great present! And why not get one for yourself or dad at the same time? There are now great ones out there for ‘big people’. Wheee….
Article from GymbaROO’s official magazine First Steps Issue 91. Adapted from the original article ‘Scooting Around’ by Margaret Sasse: Founder of GymbaROO and KindyROO.
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