Here at The Little Gym even our youngest Bugs (4 to 10 months) are taken through supported forward rolls and continue to progress through Birds, Beasts, Funny Bugs, and so on until they become masters of rolling in every direction on the floor, bars and even the beam.
All of these rolls have one huge benefit in common - they develop and enhance our vestibular sense. Our vestibular system allows us to maintain our balance and to experience gravitational security, allowing us to maintain a position without falling. It also helps us to move smoothly and efficiently.
Because the vestibular system coordinates eye and head movements, it may be challenging for some children to complete everyday activities such as copying from a white board in their classroom, following a moving object such as a ball through the air; or visually scanning across a page to read.
The vestibular system also helps to develop and maintain an appropriate muscle tone. To understand this concept better try to balance on one leg with your eyes closed. Notice the way that your muscles will start to move and regulate your position to stop you from falling.
Apart from forward rolls, the kids at The Little Gym are challenged in many different ways to improve their vestibular system. One is used this week in our parent & child classes while we’re rounding up our Learning unit “Movement Arts and Body Parts: the AirMat.
The AirMat provides a soft and springy surface that is a firm favourite in classes and Birthday parties alike. Its bouncy surface can quite easily throw kids off balance so their mind and body are forced to adjust their movements to maintain their balance, stay upright and develop core body strength and stability. And on their way back to the beginning AirMat the challenge continues with even more forward rolls.