Second in a series
FLORENCE, S.C. – Movement, the second month of the Count 5 campaign, is one of the most vital parts of a child’s development, Florence One Schools readiness director Floyd Creech said.
“Really, if a child moves a lot during his or her childhood, it makes his or her experiences much later much more meaningful with all these connections,” Creech said.
Creech said young children learn through movement, which helps them grow cognitively and learn their limits.
Creech leads movement classes for young children where parents will bring their children and allow them to freely move. The room is set up to have interactive games, such as number blocks, dolls and obstacles to walk on. These items stimulate the children’s minds through movement, which helps the children now and later in life, Creech said.
“We allow children to move freely, because when you do that, they learn what their limits are, and they become very much in control of their bodies,” Creech said. “We know that a child that’s in control of their body is going to be a lot better learner, because they understand how to tackle a task and how to reach a goal.”
Ashley McLeod, who is a physical therapist at Woods Road Child Development Center, also said movement stimulates the mind, which helps students learn.
“We try to incorporate more movement in the classroom,” McLeod said. “During transition times, the kids do floor work and change positions throughout the day. Mainly work with preschool children, but that is her focus. It gets their mind and body ready to learn.”
McLeod said movement also makes children more concentrated and helps calm them from being hyperactive.
“It can help focus the body,” McLeod said. “Our fidgety kids that have hyperactivity and our kids who are the ones that kind of look like they’ve got ants in their pants, the ones that can’t sit still. Whether they have that diagnosis or not, if they start getting antsy, it may take them getting a break. If you give him or her an outlet like taking something to the library to kind of get the wiggles out.”
McLeod said the amount of movement children need varies from organization to organization, but she encourages children to get at least 30 minutes per day and aim for an hour a day. The movement can be broken into 10-minute segments so it is easier on parents.
Michele Lewis, an occupational therapist at Woods Road, said to help parents encourage their young children to move by giving them as much floor time as possible. She said just putting them on the floor to play helps them because they learn to move in and out of different positions.
Lewis said it is important for children to learn to move not only because of the cognitive effect it has on the children, but also the effect it has on their physical strength and capability later.
If a child is limited in movement when young, the child will not have as strong of core strength, which will affect fine motor skills, such as handwriting, Lewis said.
Children gain better core strength through crawling and using various weight-bearing positions.