Preschool crawling provides a healthy way to strengthen a young child’s mind and body. Often parents and caregivers think of crawling as “baby’s work.” Thinking that once a little one pops up onto two feet, the child shouldn’t go back to that baby way of moving. Please know that a child is never too old to crawl.
The Importance of Preschool Crawling
Preschool crawling provides an incredibly healthy way for all children to move–healthy for their bodies and healthy for their minds. When I see a group of school aged children on the floor playing with blocks, trucks, imaginary play or anything else, I am happy. Here’s why:
- Crawling works all the trunk muscles hard…that means a stronger core.
- Crawling involves a complex sequence of steps using both sides of the body.
How does it work?
These benefits build motor and sensory pathways and connections in the brain in the following ways:
- With each movement forward, the center of gravity shifts. In this way, the body has to balance four different ways with each crawling sequence. As a result, it really helps improve the child’s sense of balance in preparation for sports.
- Crawling is heavy work. Because crawling uses muscles and work the joints so rigorously, “organizing stimulation” occurs in the brain. Therefore, it helps with attention and focus for the classroom.
- Crawling requires weight bearing into the hands and arms. In turn, this strengthens all the muscles critical to fine motor skills-especially handwriting.
Your child didn’t crawl?
Don’t panic. Many babies skip crawling. This may have been a result of slightly weak trunk or core muscles when your child was a baby. Notice numbers 1-3 all require a lot of body action. Get your child back on the floor playing. Games that require reaching while lying on the stomach will help strengthen the back muscles critical for crawling.
Crawling Activities (for any age)
Here are some great activities to make the body strong and lead to crawling:
- Crawl through tunnels or under chairs.
- Have your child lie on his tummy to play with puzzles, games, looking at books and just about everything. Encourage reaching while in this position.
- Be goofy- have your preschooler crawl off your lap, chair or pillows head first so the arms have to “walk” onto the floor. (Make sure the arms are strong enough to do this).
- Teach your child to wheel barrow walk and crab walk-do this every day.
- Rolling across the room to retrieve puzzles pieces works the core.
- Use commando crawling during play like “super heroes.”
- When sitting, encourage reaching to the sides…puzzle pieces on the left and template on the right.
- Playing with cars, trains and trucks in this position really facilitates crawling; moving these toys requires reaching and moving while in four point.
Preschool crawling provides physical and cognitive benefits…at one time. For a well-researched, detailed guide for physical activity for infants to school age children, see the Nemour’s Foundation article entitled Best Practices for Physical Activity.