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The Canadian Pediatric Society is now formally advocating for "risky play".If the term "risky play" is new to you, it simply means thrilling and exciting forms of free play that involve uncertainty and a possibility of physical injury.While that might sound a little scary, their statement does elaborate on the difference between:
  1. Risk - where a child can recognize and evaluate the challenge and decide on a course of action based on personal preference and self-perceived skillVersus
  2. Hazard - where the potential for injury is beyond the child’s capacity to recognize it as such or to manage it

And while this statement from the Canadian Pediatric Society is new, the information is not

Why Some Children Are More "Accident Prone"...

The well known Pikler Triangle was actually developed because pediatrician, Dr. Emmi Pikler found that children from lower class families had fewer fractures and concussions than the children of well-to-do families.

She discovered this by chance while reviewing accident statistics.

Dr. Pikler quickly realized that children from lower class families enjoyed the freedom to roam, run, and play where they liked. They were more alert, more physically capable, and were able to fall without hurting themselves.By comparison, the children from well-to-do families were over-protected, their movements were limited and they did not know their own physical capabilities or limits.This is the reason why Dr. Pikler developed the Pikler triangle, almost 100 years ago. It was an easy way for children under her care to climb, hang, jump, move freely, and develop their gross motor skills.

You Don't Need A Pikler Triangle

You don't need any special gross motor or climbing equipment, especially if you don't have the space or budget.

What's important is that children are given the freedom and opportunity to move their bodies every day.

This could be as simple as following your child's lead - allowing them to climb up and down the stairs (while sticking close by, of course), jumping off the couch, carrying a heavy package, or making an obstacle course with the couch cushions.

These things aren't always the most relaxing for us and they're certainly harder to do indoors, in the colder months, so it doesn't mean that you have to do them all the time.

It's just about giving some opportunity for children to:

  • learn the limits of their bodies
  • develop balance, coordination, and strength
  • Build CONFIDENCE in their gross motor abilities

Indoor Gross Motor Activities

If you're looking for more organized indoor gross motor activities for the winter months, you could try:

  1. Having a dance party [all ages] - for 18 months+ you could play freeze dance and to develop motor control. The Kimboomers have a whole Freeze Dance Album.
  2. The Floor is Lava [3 years+] - Jump from cushion to cushion to couch, just make sure everyone keeps their feet off the floor. This is great for gross motor development, following instructions and problem-solving skills. You can also play the Kiboomers song The Floor Is Lava Song.
  3. Pillow fort & Tunnel [as soon as your child can crawl]- build the fort and tunnel with your child for lots of maximum effort work, i.e. pillows tend to be bigger than the child, requiring them to focus and use all their strength to manoeuvre them.Add some blankets or sheets, flashlights, and anything else to extend their play. For an infant starting to crawl, build a simple tunnel to crawl through - rather than pillows that could fall on them, I'd suggest creating a tunnel by lining up chairs and throwing a blanket over them or moving chairs out from a long table.
  4. Throwing Games [18 months+] - use balls, rolled up socks, bean bags, etc. and throw them into laundry basket, a hula hoop, or use painters tape to make a target on the floor.For children younger than 18 months, you could do rolling games. Sit on the floor with your legs open and roll a ball back and forth to each other.
  5. Hopscotch with painters tape [3 years+- This is great way to develop balance, concentration, and bilateral coordination, as the child goes from one to two feet and back to one foot again.For children younger than 3, you could use painters tape in a number of ways at home to develop gross motor skills, i.e. walking on a line, zig zags, make a path to follow around the house, make a road for toy cars, etc.
  6. Indoor Scavenger Hunt [Toddler+] - Choose things that are all over the house to encourage more movement or select things in a certain area of the home to keep them in one place.
  7. Art on a Large Scale [Toddler+] - use a roll of paper or cut up cardboard box on the floor or wall to encourage big movement. Delivery boxes are great canvases for art and if big enough, the child can sit right inside of it.
  8. Yoga [all ages] - This a wonderful gross motor activity that is also calming and you can adapt it for all ages. For infants you can just do simple stretches. For older children, you can do individual poses, eventually progressing into short movement flows.
And if you're new to the idea of risky play, you might want to check out this article to figure out how to navigate it with your child: https://themontessoriroom.com/blogs/montessori-tips/why-risky-play-is-important

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