Balancing Learning Opportunities and Safety for the Benefit of a Child
Children are always pushing their boundaries. Driven by innate curiosity of their surroundings, exploration and mastery of their world is at the heart of every child. That drive often puts fear in the pit of every parent’s stomach as they watch their child pushing boundaries, taking risks and learning about consequences.
Keeping our children safe is a protective reflex that most parents possess and the statistics support that. It’s been estimated that falls account for up to 9% of pediatric deaths in the United States and 41% of hospital admissions. But, short of bubble-wrapping them and keeping them indoors, there are compelling arguments for taking a balanced approach by providing both opportunity and safety.
TWO KEY SYSTEMS
Movement and body coordination rely on the integration of two key body systems: the vestibular system and the proprioceptive system. Information from these two sensory systems are processed in the cerebellum, or ‘little’ brain, at the base of our skull. The vestibular, or balance system, provides our brain with information from our inner ear. This information is gravity-based and tells us things about our orientation to the ground. The proprioceptive system provides the brain with positional information about all of our body parts. It tells the brain how much force our muscles are exerting as well as the position of our joints relative to each other. Amazingly, the brain processes all of this information incredibly quickly and sends out instructions to keep up from falling out of a chair or kicking a soccer ball. But we don’t start out with great coordination…
Watching children grow and become more coordinated, we obviously see them grow stronger as they roll over, begin to crawl and walk. But unseen, is the complex growth and mastery of the vestibular and proprioceptive systems which is equally important, providing a strong foundation of confidence in movement. Just as physical strength is achieved through repetitive movements that challenge the body to rebuild muscles stronger, coordination of these systems is achieved through challenge, repetition and practice.
Stay tuned for part 2 as we reveal a balanced approach between providing opportunities and maintaining safety measures for you and your child..