STRIDE Ahead: Get on the Ball!

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The following information courtesy Janet Maxwell an Occupational Therapist at STRIDE Learning Center.

Postural Stability: Overall strength in the arms, legs, and trunk muscles gained from repetitive ACTIVE play.
Postural stability is critical to accomplish the following functional school skills:
• Sitting upright at a desk or on the floor during circle time
• Accessing playground equipment, especially swinging
• Managing stairs
• Balancing on a toilet seat
• Maneuvering over obstacles
• Sitting upright for meals

Stability-Mobility: In order to develop refined movements in our limbs, we require a stable base of support. For example, the baby needs to develop good sitting stability to be able to use his hands in this posture. Only when sitting balance and strength is well established to hold the body still, is the ability to manipulate, reach and play with toys as well as move the eyes present.

NOTE: It is easier to keep your body in motion if you do not have the muscles strength to hold it still.

Children with postural challenges have difficulty maintaining a sitting position and fatigue more quickly than their peers. The following strategies are designed to address these difficulties:
• Build in frequent breaks from tabletop work: jump on cushions, push/pull a heavy load, hang from a bar, log roll, wheelbarrow walk, animal walks, blow games, scooter boards
• Adjust the child’s chair or table height so that when he/she is seated with feet flat on the floor,
the tabletop is just below the elbows.
• Allow the child to work in a variety of positions, e.g., sitting, standing, kneeling, lying on the floor.
• Allow the child to chew gum or suck hard candy during writing and/or during highly demanding cognitive activities.

Activities for Home or School
Postural stability (the ability to maintain a stable body position) provides body support necessary to develop and effectively perform motor skills. The following activities promote postural control, core strength, and endurance and benefit all children.
• Wheelbarrow walking
• Dump Truck Game
• Playing tug of war or other push‐pull games
• Wrestling
• Jumping rope
• Climbing
• Scooter boarding (belly on board)
• Playing board games, coloring, reading, or watching TV while lying tummy down and
propped up on elbows.
• Whole‐body strengthening such as martial arts, yoga, tai chi. (Consider using videos to
make this a home‐based, whole‐family activity.)
• Riding tricycles/bicycles
• Participating in recreational activities such as gymnastics, horseback riding, swimming,
- Brack, Jenny C. (2004). Learn to Move, Move to Learn! Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC
- Case-Smith (2005). Occupational Therapy for Children (5th ed.). St. Louis, MS: Elsevier Inc.
- STAR Center, Denver, CO

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