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Waiting for the birth of your first child, you have hundreds of questions. You wonder about nutrition, sleep routines, feeding and even the best place to buy diapers. They all boil down to one thing: how can you provide your baby with the best possible environment to grow and develop?
Physical literacy is another key element.
In the first year, physical literacy refers to your baby developing basic motor skills. Long term, it means that your child eventually develops proficiency in a wide variety of fundamental movement skills that will promote an active, healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity is connected to better health, greater happiness, positive self-image, better school grades and improved social well-being in general.
Physical literacy begins the moment your baby is born. In the first year especially, regular movement is essential to healthy brain development. Your job is to stimulate and encourage age-appropriate movement in the right ways at the right times throughout the year.
The good news is you are already watching for the typical stages of infant development. You might not think that those milestones have anything to do with physical literacy, but they are key to your baby becoming a physically literate child. As your baby gets older, the physical skills they learn later will be built on the ones they learn in their first year.
Keep in mind that the age ranges specified below are flexible. Every child develops at different speeds and different times. If your child doesn’t seem ready for some of these activities, there’s a good chance you simply need to wait a bit.
Why it’s important: Your child is born with a grasping reflex from day one. However, she will actually begin to grasp things intentionally at around 3 to 4 months. The ability to grasp objects is an essential motor skill. It also requires the development of hand-eye coordination, and it needs to be stimulated and supported in infancy.
Tip: Make sure your child always has age-appropriate toys to encourage her to practice grasping.
Skill: Rolling over
Why it’s important: Your infant should be able to roll over onto his stomach between 4 and 6 months of age. Rolling over requires the development of basic core strength, and continued practice develops greater strength and coordination in order to progress to sitting and crawling.
Tip: Give your infant regular tummy time so he becomes familiar with the sensation of being on his stomach.
Why it’s important: Infants will generally be able to sit up unassisted at 6 months. Sitting requires core strength and coordination, which is developed earlier through regular tummy time.
Tip: When your infant starts to sit up on the floor, make sure that there are no sharp or hard obstacles present. Never leave her sitting unattended on beds, sofas or chairs. If she loses her balance and tumbles, serious injury can result.
Why it’s important: For the most part, infants begin to crawl between 7 and 10 months. It sometimes begins as an ‘army crawl’ with him pulling his body forward using his hands. Crawling requires your baby to have the strength to push himself up onto his hands and knees, and then maintain balance in that position as he propels himself forwards or backwards.
Tip: Encourage your child to crawl and reach by placing toys on the floor around him. While some infants don’t ever crawl, but instead go directly to cruising, don’t be in a rush for him to walk. Crawling is important for both motor and cognitive development.
Why it’s important: Cruising describes how infants begin to learn how to walk by holding onto furniture for support. Your child develops strength, balance, and coordination by cruising.
Tip: You should ensure that your child is safe to cruise by removing floor obstacles such as toys and cushions, and removing any furniture that has sharp edges or hard angles.
Why it’s important: At around 13 months, most children will be walking without support. That is, they will be ‘toddling’ as they take their first steps without assistance (that’s where the term ‘toddler’ comes from). 13 months is an average: some children may walk sooner, and some as late as 16 months.
Tip: As with cruising, you should ensure that your child is safe for walking by removing obstacles on the floor—toys and cushions—and removing any furniture with sharp edges or hard angles.
Jim Grove is a senior staff writer at Active For Life and a consulting editor to national sport organizations on physical literacy and Long-Term Athlete Development. He holds a teaching degree along with NCCP certification as a youth soccer coach. Married with three children, he has 15 years experience coaching children and youth ages 5 to 18.
When we look at our kids, we don’t typically think of them as mini business moguls. But maybe we should. After all, children are naturally smart about money; it doesn’t take them long to figure out that the world is full of things they want and that many of those things include a price tag. Where parents often struggle is in balancing providing for their children with teaching them how to provide for themselves. Rather than just giving them the money to buy whatever their little hearts’ desire, some parents might be surprised to learn that the answer may be teaching them how to earn it—and starting young.
At least that’s what Gail Haynes, author of The Lemonade Stand Millionaire: A Parent’s Guide to Encouraging the Entrepreneurial Spirit in Your Kids, believes. In fact, she suggests that teaching and encouraging entrepreneurship in kids right from the get-go is part of a sound financial education.
Don’t worry—we’re not talking about a hard-driving campaign to make your toddler the next Mark Zuckerberg. Instead, it’s about helping kids build the confidence to do anything, no matter where their interests lead them into adulthood; and, ensuring they have the money skills to keep them from landing where so many adults have fallen before: broke, in debt and out of options.
Why should you nurture little entrepreneurs? Here are a few key reasons why it’s fundamental to any child’s financial education:
You’d be hard pressed to accuse any kid of a lack of creativity. Just try asking a group of kindergarteners for business ideas. Chances are you’ll get some silly ideas, some surprisingly good ones, and of course, some totally outlandish suggestions. But no matter what that group of kids comes up with, you can bet that they will be so totally into their ideas, they will barely be able to contain themselves. Now, think if you asked adults the same question. Not exactly the same kind of enthusiasm.
‘With entrepreneurship, it really is about nurturing creativity,’ Haynes said. ‘When your kids come to you with business ideas, even if they sound totally impossible, talking to them about what they love about that idea and encouraging them is important. Thankfully for all the things in our world today, at least somebody at one point believed they were possible.’
With all the things you have to painstakingly teach kids to do, creativity is one key life skill you can sit back and allow to unfold. According to Haynes, encourage those creative ideas and help kids develop the confidence to turn them into something more.
Haynes’ financial philosophy sprung from her own experience when she suddenly became a single parent, leaving her and her kids in a very tough financial spot.
‘I realized that even though I had my own business and worked hard, I didn’t do smart things with my money. I didn’t want my kids to find themselves in the same financial position. We were literally heating our house with a wood stove and living by candlelight. It was not a fun time. So I started to teach them about what they could do,’ Haynes said.
What she found is that the more she taught her kids about how they could earn money and spend it wisely, the more they looked for ways to do it. In other words, understanding how money works may help kids develop the sense of ambition it takes to earn, save and invest it in the future.
‘They started thinking about what they could do to earn money. That turned to lemonade stands and then when they were ages 7 and 9, they started their own business selling rabbits.’ (A business that is still thriving—and debt free—more than seven years later.)
3. Money Management
So how exactly does Haynes encourage the business drive in her kids? To start, she treats them a lot like adults. They do chores, they negotiate jobs around the house, and if they complete all the work they’ve agreed to do, they get ‘a paycheque.’
‘I call it a paycheque, not an allowance,’ Haynes said.
That, in itself, according to Haynes, encourages kids to look for ways to earn money, rather than just asking for it. As an extension, Haynes believes that some kids will follow this with a natural desire to be entrepreneurial, such as through a lemonade stand or mowing the neighbour’s lawn.
For more reasons why you should nurture the entrepreneur in your kid, click here.
We’ve assembled a select group of experts on parenting topics that affect all ages and stages of a child’s development. From sibling rivalry, sleep deprivation to nutrition, our savvy experts have your parenting dilemmas covered. (We know they’ve helped us with ours.) Let us know if they are helping you with your dilemmas by commenting.