Beetles are not designed to roll

Whilst individual programmes are effective in improving motor skills of school-aged children presenting with various problems, there is also a growing number of children who are entering the school system with inadequate motor and language skills to meet the demands of the classroom and the curriculum and realise their potential. At the time of writing, few researchers are willing to point to a single cause for this increase, which is probably multifactorial. However, there is much that could be done to prevent children entering the school system under-equipped in terms of their motor and language skills. Although many of the movements are similar to formal exercises used in an individual clinical programme carried out under the supervision of a trained practitioner, the stories, songs and suggested activities are designed as informal play for younger children (3–6 years): they should be used as part of daily story-telling and play, and should not be regarded as therapy. By harnessing natural movements in a developmental sequence, improved coordination tends to become an integrated function rather than simply a practice learned skill. (Skills that are dependent on continuous practice tend to lack flexibility and do not necessarily adapt or transfer to new situations.) The majority of suggested movements to accompany aspects of the two stories are carried out on the floor, starting with movements designed to develop correct head alignment with the body (the basis for good posture), and the ability to use the two sides and upper and lower sections of the body in different ways (the basis for coordination).

Bertie the Beetle
Bertie the Beetle made one last
attempt to get himself the right
way up. This time he used
just a little too much ‘oomph’
Instead of rolling and stopping,
he found himself rolling over and
over and over. When he did eventually
stop, the only way to get back to where
he wanted to be was to roll back again.
His head felt quite dizzy and his legs were all wobbly.
One long roll in
either direction was more than enough for one day.
‘Beetles’, he thought, ‘were definitely not designed to roll.’
Ali the Aligator
Ali the Aligator la… zily
lifted his head in the early
morning sun. Out of the
corner of his eye he could see
some very attractive insects playing under the trees.
Slow… ly he started to creep towards them.

This is an extract from Movement, Your child’s first language: How movement and music assists brain development in children aged 3-7 years, by Sally Goddard Blythe. The Book includes 2 CDs of music by Michael Lazarev to accompany the exercises.