Now new walkers are waddling like penguins as they strive to get their balance and body awareness, (where are my arms and legs and how do I move them?). This is an exciting time, at last our little ones are upright, but eyes and ears also need to adjust for seeing and understanding from the upright position, things look different now!
These aspects take precedence over speech, as little ones learn about themselves and their world. This is a bilateral stage, where both sides of the body work as one, and all sessions are geared to strengthening as well as advancing skills at this level.
The special sessions for new walkers aim at improving balance and muscle tone development through walking and running and for the older penguins, hanging by their hands. Therefore, the equipment is mainly slopes at varying degrees – so they can walk up and either walk or run down. Climbing ladders, somersaults down the wedge and posting things, i.e. balls down hollow rolls and into the top of the witches hats or posting holes. Hanging from the overhead is now very important.
Dances are age related and involve walking forwards and around slowly, with balance and adjustment to the upright position the main aim at this age. Concentration at this age is short, so mat time is interspersed with short periods of massage and vestibular activities along with nursery rhymes and action songs. Now is also the age at which we start auditory memory patterns through the repetition of specific verses and nursery rhymes.
The use of the flash word of the Treasure Bag object familiarises children with those strange things called words. Our name is a word and so is the koala’s for instance. Alongside reading, the use of the flash word technique used at GymbaROO helps children learn about the link between ‘words’ and their meaning. The word shown is always linked to an object that children can feel, see, hear/has a sound, and can sometimes have an action with which it is associated. i.e. jump, hop, climb, run etc.
Visual tracking is now also a part of every session. In earlier age groups it has been more incidental, but now it is quite deliberate as children are asked to track a specific item while in a sitting position – up, down, to the right and the left.
Children of this age – walkers to 23 months are also developmentally ready to follow some simple directionality and action commands – peekaboo, arms up, down, out, and in – sit down and stand up.
Whilst keeping to the routine, the content of the session varies considerably as we focus on the aspects of development common to this age. For instance, once an infant is walking, we provide ideas for you and activities for your child that increase balance mechanisms and strengthens their muscle tone in preparation for the exciting stage of 16 months.
We are also aware that this is a time of concentration of infants in overcoming gravity as they gain the ability to move in an upright position. Speech at this stage takes a back seat, but the first stage of speech is the ability to understand simple instructions, so this is also part of our aim during these months.