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Vestibular System – Child Development

Vestibular System - Child Development

Vestibular System – Child Development

Vestibu… Say What?!?!

In the space in-between our ears lives a collection of curiously shaped fluid filled canals. The movement of the fluid in the canals is perceived by receptors that tell the brain where we are in space (forward, backward, up down, tilting, spinning, leaning and how fast or slow we’re moving).

Many children’s playgrounds can offer wonderful stimulus of the vestibular system in the variety of equipment offered. Crawling is the first experience children have with the cross patterning action. It is vital for very young children that their experiences in spinning, rolling, rocking and swaying are slow and calm.

If the movement is too fast the vestibular system is over stimulated so instead of this experience becoming valuable learning for body and brain development, it becomes unpleasant and the child will not want to repeat it. Lack of repetition and practice can be detrimental to this development.

Activities to Help Vestibular Systems

We can provide young children with stimulating, interesting experiences, through very simple finger plays, songs, movement and manipulative activities, that assist in developing their eye muscles, balance and the vestibular system. Remember it is very important that any children’s activities or stimulation should be done through a fun, play experience rather than as a formal teaching exercise, particularly at this age (under 5 years).

Rolling, swinging, spinning, swaying experiences all assist in the development of the vestibular system. Simple activities might include

  • a child rolling across the floor,
  • spinning around with an adult,
  • swaying while having a ‘piggy back’,
  • playing ‘Ring a Ring a Rosie’ or game with friends,
  • sitting in a swing

This blog has been written as one in a series of articles aimed a increasing the knowledge and skills of parents and early childhood educators within the Wide Bay Region and is part of the Moving Smart Community Project.

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