Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Children of all ages love to move. Babies squirm and wiggle, they reach for loved ones. As they grow they learn to turn over, crawl, stand, bounce, walk, run, hop, skip, and dance. They move forward and backward, to the right and to the left. Children explore life through their movements. They learn what their body can do and what it can not do. They learn fast and slow, high and low.
It is wonderful what children learn on their own. It is even more wonderful what we can teach them. Here's where labels come in. When children move they need to know what it is they are doing. When my three year old was two he had to take an early childhood assessment test. One of the things they asked him to do was to walk backwards. Now I had seen him walk backwards hundreds of times but on this day he would not do it. The lady kept asking and he kept refusing. Then a light went off. He didn't understand the term. He knew how to walk backwards but I had never told him that was what he was doing so he could not do it on command. I neglected to label. I felt horrible at that moment but have since learned much more about the importance of applying labels to his movements. Labels enable children to associate words to things, actions, and concepts and to recall them later. Labels are crucial.

The most obvious labeling we do is teaching body parts. We teach our children to point to their nose, their eyes, their belly. Labeling movement is also important. When you move with your child, narrate the actions. "Let's reach up high. Let's reach way down low." "Let's hop to the left. Now let's step to the right."  Children will learn to identify the movements and the directions. Keep it interesting and build their brain connections by adding new and fun movements. Don't just walk and hop but skip, sway, slide, shake, march and gallop. As they learn add descriptive words and body parts. Instead of "let's reach up high" say "let's slowly reach our hands up high". Doing the movements in opposites will help them even better understand (see my post "Compare and Contrast"). If you are holding your little one while labeling be certain to label in their direction. If they are facing you and you are going forward remember that they are going backwards.  Moving and labeling with your little one can be a lot of fun and will make your child smarter. Take a few minutes each day to do some intentional movement and labeling but also do it casually throughout the entire day.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the follow, I'm now a follower of yours! Great blog!