What some people donâ€™t necessarily know about movement
activities is that they not only aid fine and gross motor development, but also
stimulate attention, cooperation, sensory processing, visual skills, speech and
language development, and impulse control. For a parent of a special needs child, you know it is
important to integrate all of these skills and help your child be the best he
can be, and itâ€™s incredible to know that rhythm and movement activities can help
aid your child in so many areas.
Dance can be structured or free-form, and both styles have
their own benefits. Free form
allows for more creativity and self-expression, while structured dances work on
following directions, listening skills, cooperation with the other dancers, and
decreasing impulse control. Dances
should be kept age appropriate and should always be fun and something a child
can achieve. Spinning, jumping,
hopping, tip-toe-ing, or galloping are great dance moves for a toddler, while
an infant might benefit more from a Hokey Pokey variation in which the parents
move the childâ€™s limbs. Older
children and adolescents might benefit from a dance to their favorite song.
Feeling a strong pulse is important for children, and enhancing
movement activities with music is a great way to get kids motivated. Steady pulses encourage a regular
gait. Children can clap or play an
instrument to the beat to reinforce that rhythm. Rhythms also help establish routines, and children begin to
know what to expect. Practice
breaks in the rhythm by doing start and stop movement activities, such as a
freeze dance. Rhythm also helps
children establish the connection between sound and the vibration of movement,
which is also great for sensory integration.
When doing movement activities for kids, using props is a
great way to stimulate children and get them motivated. Use a parachute for large groups and
help children move the parachute up and down. Add some soft balls on top of the parachute to make
â€śpopcornâ€ť or watch them bounce.
Children will likely want to grab the balls, so it is important to teach
children order of routines and impulse control; after the parachute, let the
children share the balls. Use
scarves, musical instruments such as shakers or drums, hand puppets, ribbons,
pom-poms, and other age-appropriate tools.
For some popular and fun tunes that can be used for movement
activities for kids, check out KiDâ€™n Together, Greg and Steve, Laurie Berkner,
and Joanie Leeds.