Balance and Strengthening Activities:
- Half Kneeling with minimal or no support: Initially you may have to help the child get into position. Then work on having him attain the position himself. You may want to play with blocks or color at a short table or bench, or read him a short book while he is in this position to work on trunk and hip strength. As he becomes stronger in this position, you can begin to play catch to work on some more advanced balance reactions. Try for a short time on each side when able.
- Walk up and down an incline. Walking uphill works a lot on leg and ankle strengthening. Walking down hill also takes a great deal of strength to slow himself down against gravity, as well as good balance reactions. Give him close supervision if needed for safety.
- Stand to crouch. Have the child stand on a very short step or bench (2-6 inches as tolerated), then crouch down to the floor to pick up an object. She can then throw it at a target, or place it in a bucket you are holding, etc. This takes a lot of quadriceps strength, as well as balance. Give her close supervision for safety, especially when squatting down.
- Step-ups. Have the child squat down to the floor to pick up an object, then step up a 6-8 inch step/bench to put the object away on a shelf, or put a window cling on a mirror, etc. Have her try to do 10 step-ups, leading with each foot. Give her close supervision for safety, however try not to actually give her assistance or support unless she definitely needs it to get up safely
- Half standing. Have the child begin to work on balance on one foot by putting one foot on a ball. Give close supervision and see how long he can hold this position. As he becomes more stable here, progress to standing on one foot and then to hopping (which will take some time to get to).
- Single leg standing with play. Put a bean bag on one foot and have the child try to pick it up to place it in a small box. Try to have him do this with little assistance for balance.
- Balance on Unstable Ground. Practice standing on an unstable surface, such as a thick piece of foam or a balance board. Initially help to stabilize her, then try to let go of her for 5-30 seconds or longer as she improves. As she becomes more stable, you can progress to reaching or throwing activities while on the unstable surface. However it will take some time to progress to this and she will initially need very close supervision.
- Jumping skills. Try repeated jumps on a trampoline if this is available, however the child would need close supervision for safety as this requires a lot of balance. Try also putting a rope on the floor to jump over, as this will help to progress to jumping forward and over hurdles. Increase the difficulty as he progresses with the height of the hurdle and the distance you ask him to jump.
Other suggested activities for working on specific gross motor skills: ( If you would like these further explained, please contact us)
Hop: bounce on feet, jump with 2 feet, then 1 foot (hold chair if needed), hold hands and hop on lines, footprints, and shapes
Balance Beam: walk slowly on line, walk on line carrying 2 objects, and walk on footprints on board
Stand on 1 foot: kicking, lift bean bag with foot, touch balloon on knee with foot, march high fast and slow, stand with feet together and eyes closed, then heel-toe; stand on 1 foot with eyes closed and hold hand in different directions, stand with 1 foot on box and lift foot
Skip: step and briefly balance on 1 foot, march in place and swing arms, skip with assistance, hop on each foot several times, then step-hop, step-hop.
Catch: catch balloon, foam balls, bean bags, roll large ball 5’ and catch, roll small ball quickly and catch, toss in air and catch, suspend ball and catch (3-5’).
Bounce and catch: bounce and catch beach ball in sitting, then kneeling and standing, bounce and catch playground ball and tennis ball in kneeling and standing
Throw: increase arm strength, push and pull, throw different objects at different distances and targets, “reach as you throw”, imitate throws
Jump over hurdle: jump on trampoline and hold hand, jump and reach for balloon, jump over with 1 hand assistance
Get up from floor: pull from a rope, one hand on floor, or use furniture for support when transitioning through a half kneeling position
Sit-ups: hold knees and rock back and forward, sit and lower self slowly backward to lying position, hold ball or toy on stomach as they sit up