Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tatty Bumpkin’s Downwards Dog Pose -The 'All-rounder for your Child!' Strengthens core muscles, activates body senses, progresses fine motor skills and develops 'spatial reasoning' ..

By Sue Heron – Training Co-ordinator Tatty Bumpkin and Paediatric Physiotherapist 

On her adventure this week Tatty Bumpkin celebrates the Queen's Birthday. 

She goes to London and has fun playing with the Queen's corgi's dogs - whilst doing downwards dog pose of course! 

Gently stretching and strengthening key muscle groups whilst activating the body senses - Dog pose is a great all-rounder for both you and your child. Dog pose can provide your child with the ideal ‘movement break’ if they are finding it hard to settle to do homework or struggling to calm to themselves. 

But the benefits of 'downwards dog' pose don't stop there - doing Dog pose, and using words to describe it, helps your child develop their 'spatial reasoning' skills.  

Spatial reasoning, involves the ability to locate and move our own bodies and objects in space, either physically or in our 'mind's eye'. (National Research Council, 2006). 
When a baby makes their first movements they are developing their spatial reasoning - as they start to understand how they interact with other people and the world around them.

More complex spatial reasoning skills include:
  • Being able to identify, handle different shaped objects and possibly change the way they look.   
  • To understand how objects and ourselves relate to one another in space 
Why is spatial reasoning important?  Spatial reasoning skills are thought to be particularly important for maths. People working in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are thought to have good spatial reasoning skills. Spatial thinking is also important for many other careers - architecture, graphic design, computer sciences, biology, physics, chemistry, geology, geography and even medicine  all require strong spatial skills.  http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/12/16/steps-to-help-foster-a-preschoolers-spatial-reasoning-skills/http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/LNSPayingAttention.pdf

Crucially spatial reasoning and skills are not fixed at birth - they can be learnt and improved with practice. You can encourage your young child's spatial reasoning:

  • Through physical play. As your child moves their body they will be gaining a deeper understanding of the dimensions of their body and how it relates to objects and other people. 
  • By using gestures as you talk to them i.e. drawing circles in the air as you talk about the 'round' apple 
  • Using 'spatial' words as you play i.e. 'up' , 'down' , 'inside' and 'upside down'

Dog Pose – Tatty Bumpkin’s Yoga Activity for the Week

Stretch into Dog Pose - then see if you can wag your tail!
Try to do dog pose with you child as they will find it much easier to copy you and doing the pose together will support the bonding process between you both. 
However, do respect your body, if you know you have any health issues e.g. back, neck  or wrist issues always take extra care and stop if your feel any pain. For further information on whether this pose is suitable for you always consult a health professional.  
  • Find a clear place on a non-slip surface (e.g. mat or carpet)  where you can do Dog pose with your child without bumps! 
  • Remember to take off socks and shoes – this will enable you and your child to use your feet effectively as you balance in Dog pose. 
  • Start Dog pose by encouraging your child to move onto their hands and knees with you -  in cat pose.
Start in Cat pose
  • Check to make sure your own and your child’s hands are flat on the floor ideally with your fingers spread apart a little.
  • Now gently push up through your hands and feet and lift your hips (bottom) up into the air – into dog pose. You and your child should now just be balancing on your hands and feet. You can show your older child how they can tuck their toes under their feet to help them push up through the floor.
  • Keep your knees bent to start with - this will help you and your child to stretch out your back. Then see if you can straighten your knees one at a time - but be careful not to ‘lock’ them. If your child is hyper-mobile at the knees and likely to over-extend them - encourage them to imagine they have a little butterfly under their toes – which they must not squash! This will help your child to only press their feet gently into the floor.  
  • Dog pose is a ‘back’ stretch. So if you, or your older child, feels tightness down the back of your legs and knees as you do the pose - bend your knees a little more.
    As you do this you will be able you to lengthen your back further. 
  • Encourage your child to see if they can now look through their legs by putting their head between their upper arms – seeing the world from upside down! 
  • Finally you can bark at each other or even ‘go for a walk’ – moving forwards, backwards and even sideways across the mat, carpet or garden! 
  • If your child is older - encourage them to lift one leg in the air to wag their doggy tails!
Dogs waving their tails!

Benefits of Tatty Bumpkin’s Dog Yoga Activity for Your Child 

Dog pose will give your child the opportunity to:

1. Strengthen their ‘core’ muscles for fine motor skills

Dog pose helps your child to ‘waken up’ and strengthen all their core muscles i.e. their back, tummy, shoulder and hip muscles, but especially their shoulder muscles. Activity in these muscle groups can have a positive impact on your child’s fine motor skills such as writing and dressing. 

2. Stretch and lengthen their back muscles

In dog pose your child will have the chance to gently stretch and lengthen their spinal muscles. Whilst sitting on sofas or chairs or carrying heavy rucksacks it's just so easy to collapse into a the slumped or slightly crooked spinal position - over time this posture can start to feel 'normal' for your child. If your child does dog pose as part of their day they will increase their awareness of what a straight, lengthened spine feels like. 

How a slumped posture may affect your child see http://wellnessforlife.com.sg/works/poor-posture/
Carrying a bag on one shoulder puts the back into a crooked or misaligned position see http://onsitewellnesscheck.com/page5/page5.html
3. Stimulate their senses for sensory organisation and learning.
When your child does Dog pose they will be stimulating several of their senses:
  • their visual sense 
  • their sense of touch - as they feel the mat with their hands and feet
  • their two body senses:
    • their proprioceptive sense and 
    • their vestibular sense. 
The proprioceptive sense tells us about our body position. It's stimulated every time we move - as we use our muscles or stretch and bend our joints. When we push or pull or lift heavy things we are really stimulating this sense. As your child does dog pose - pushing up on their hands and feet to lift their body up from the floor they will be activating their proprioception sense.  
Proprioception is often called the 'safe sense' by therapists as activities which stimulate this sense tend to have an organising effect on the brain. For example if your child is finding it hard to calm down - doing dog pose may be helpful. Alternatively if your child is finding it hard to keep their focus - doing dog pose may help them to gently alert themselves without making them over-excited. 
The vestibular sense tells us where our head is in space. Again your child will stimulate this sense as they do Dog pose.  
Doing ‘sensory rich’ activities, which involve the steady stimulation of several senses, will help your child to organise their senses. This sensory organisation is fundamental for learning.  

4. Relax their upper back and neck muscles
After sitting at a school desk, or after carrying a heavy rucksack, for a period of time children may experience tension in their upper back and neck muscles – Dog pose is a great reliever for this tension. 

5. Promote Spatial Reasoning Skills 

As you child does dog pose they will be exploring the space around them in a different way and so developing their early spatial understanding. As you do dog pose with your young child talk about:

  • Being 'upside down' 
  • Lifting your paw, or tail, 'up' in the air or putting it 'down' on the mat 
  • Waving your tails 'side' to 'side' 
  • The shape your bodies are making - triangles?

Love Tatty Bumpkin x

Find out about your local Tatty Bumpkin class at http://www.tattybumpkin.com/classes/find-class.html. Or, ask your child’s nursery if they are doing Tatty Bumpkin Yoga activity sessions as part of their day. 

A New Start with Tatty Bumpkin?  

Or, maybe, you are thinking of a new career which gives you:
  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family
Find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes at: http://www.tattybumpkin.com/business/index.html

Monday, May 16, 2016

Baby Bumpkin ‘Dinosaur Yoga Activity’ - Look for ‘the Reach’ it’s the foundation for so many skills!

By Sue Heron - Training Co-ordinator at Tatty Bumpkin and Paediatric Physiotherapist. 

This week, Baby Bumpkins will be enjoying reaching and creeping on their tummies as baby ‘dinosaurs!’.

As we know tummy time is crucial for your baby, allowing them to: gain control over their body, strengthen key muscles, develop balance skills, refine their eye movements and generally feel good about themselves :-). 

In the natural course of development babies first gain control of their head, then their shoulders and finally they learn how to control their hips as they move to crawl and stand. This means very young babies, when placed on the floor on their tummy, often find this position pretty uncomfortable and scary - they cannot push their head up to look around as their neck, back and shoulder muscles are just too weak and uncoordinated.

Often a more comfortable 'tummy time' position for your new born baby is to gently place them on their tummy on your own chest as your lean back in a chair or sofa. In this position your baby can feel your heart beat and the warmth and softness of your body. 

A great position to move onto is to place your baby, on their tummy, over your outstretched thighs as you sit with your legs out in front of you on the floor.  In this position you baby can still feel the warmth and softness of your body. You may find it comfortable to lean up against a wall so your back is supported. This is Baby Bumpkin cat or dinosaur pose. 

Baby Bumpkin Cat or Dinosaur pose

If your baby is younger (1 - 2 months old), or has not yet gained good control of their head, you will have to support their head more on your thighs. 

However, soon you will notice your baby is able to control their head, neck and upper shoulder movements more as they strengthen their muscles and develop their balance skills. You will see your baby starting to lift their head further away from your thigh and you will feel them shift their weight backwards and push up from your thigh more through their chest.

At this stage you can challenge your baby further by bending up your leg which is under their shoulders and chest. Your baby will then be gently tipped upwards and backwards, this will encourage them to push up through their forearms to lift their head even higher – the next stage in body control! See picture below.  

Once your baby feels happier on their tummy they will benefit from having a firmer surface to push up from i.e. playing on a rug or mat on the floor. However it’s still enjoyable, and beneficial, to do cat or dinosaur pose with your baby. The pose allows you to actually feel the tiny changes in your baby’s patterns of movement, and this strengthens your ‘connection' with your baby as they travel down their development pathway, and, of course, your baby will love the close contact with you.

At around 4-6 months you may notice that your baby starts to wriggle side to side more as they lie over your thighs. This is a result of increasing strength in their shoulder, back, tummy and quadricep muscles and the further development of their balance skills. The side to side wriggle is exciting as it's the basis for many complex movements.

For example reaching skills.  If your baby is younger, e.g.  4 months, when you are playing with them on the floor with appropriate toys you may notice that when they turn their head to look at you, or a toy, this results in them leaning over to the side they are looking - a great start to learning the side to side wriggle -  but also possibly frustrating for your baby! This is because when your baby shifts their weight over to the side they are looking they naturally 'trap' their arm on that side, meaning they are unable to reach out for the toy they are looking at - aarh!

Younger baby - looking at a toy on slightly on their left side and, as a result, leaning over to their left . This means they cannot free their left arm to reach out! 
However, practice makes perfect! Keep giving your baby loads of chances to play on the floor on their tummy with their toys and you, Then, at around 5 – 6 months, they will learn the most amazing skill which will have a huge impact on their development.
Your baby will learn to shift their body weight away from the direction they are looking!

For example, now if your baby spies their favourite toy to one side - they will anticipate the consequences of turning their head to look at it and will automatically shift their weight to the other side. This small weight shift will allow your baby to ‘free’ the arm on the same side as the direction of their gaze enabling them to reach with that arm to get their toy – hooray!

Older baby looking at a toy slightly to their right. But now they have learnt to shift their body weight away from the direction they are looking i.e. onto their left side  - they can now reach forwards to get the toy with their right hand. 
This seemingly tiny reaching skill has huge benefits for your baby:
  • Emotionally, being able to reach for objects, will boost their self-esteem – they can now get their toys all by themselves - f they are within reach.
  • Physically reaching for objects and holding them in their hands with progress both your baby’s eye-hand coordination and their early grasp skills. 
  • As your baby reaches and picks up their toy remember to give them plenty of smiles to show them how proud you are of them. Even whilst they are still perfecting their reaching skills – keep smiling and give loads of praise to encourage your baby to keep on trying!

Love Baby Bumpkin x

Friday, May 6, 2016

Tatty Bumpkin's Yoga-inspired Growing Flower Pose

By Sue Heron – Training Co-ordinator Tatty Bumpkin and Paediatric Physiotherapist

All this week in Tatty Bumpkin classes children have been having a go at the
'Growing Flower' pose. 


A little flower - swaying in the wind!

Grow from a tiny seed into a beautiful flower. What colour are your petals? 
Find a comfortable, clear space to do your Yoga pose with your child - a mat or clear area of carpet is ideal. Remember to take off your socks and shoes so you can both feel the floor accurately with your feet.
It's great if you can do the pose with your child as young children learn new movements largely by copying others - however - do respect your body - so only do the pose if it is comfortable to do so.  
  • Start by curling up in a tiny ball on the mat or carpet - like a tiny seed - encourage your child to copy you. 
  • Then make raindrop noises by drumming your fingertips on the mat in front of you - once again encourage your child to copy.
  • Now you both start to grow into the most beautiful flowers! 
  • Slowly uncurl and come up into the kneeling position with your child. Stretch your arms out to your sides and above your head - just like flower petals. See if you can bring your hands together above your head so your palms touching. 
  • Say ‘hello’ to the spring sunshine and think about the colour of your petals – are they purple, red or spotted?
  • If your child is older, encourage them to come up into standing - see picture above. Once you are both standing up, spread your arms out to either side and above your head as described above.

Why it is ‘Good For Me’

'Growing Flower' pose will help your child to:
  • Progress their muscle strength - when your child does this pose they will be strengthening both their leg and arm muscles
  • Improve their core stability - as your child uncurls and moves up to kneeling or standing they will be activating their core muscle groups i.e. their hip, abdominal and spinal muscles, as they spread their arms out wide they will activate their shoulder muscles
  • Develop their balance skills – growing flower pose gives your child a great opportunity to develop their balance skills as they rise from curled position. Older children can grasp the opportunity to stand up without using their hands to help them - this move really improves balance! 
  • Ignite their imagination & creative thought – encourage your child to think about:
    • the colour of their petals
    • the kind of flower they are 
    • where they are growing e.g. are they a bluebell in a wood? Are they a jungle or a mountain flower? Or maybe they are a spiky desert cactus!

Doing activities with your child is a great way to bond with them. Research shows that children, especially boys, bond with others when they move with them. Doing 'Growing Flower' pose with your child can be fun and also give you the opportunity to activate and strengthen your own core muscles!

Love Tatty Bumpkin x

Spring Forward with Tatty Bumpkin in 2016

If you would like to find out more about our Yoga- inspired sessions nationwide please visit http://www.tattybumpkin.com/

Or maybe, you are thinking of a new career which gives you:
  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family
Find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at http://www.tattybumpkin.com/business/index.html