Article 03 - Crawling...why is it so important?

             Crawling...why is it so important?

Crawling is a really vital stage in the physical development of a child. For something so accepted... it's just what a baby does... there is not a lot of adult awareness about just how important this stage of physical development really is. Not only does it provide a form of mobility for the child but has a huge impact on brain development. Crawling also has a direct impact on a child's learning and thinking processes.

Nature and the human body are amazing things. There is a reason for everything that happens and an order or pattern for this all to occur... particularly with physical development.

The crawling process actually first begins when the child experiences Tummy Time where they lie on their stomach for short periods of time when awake. This enhances the child's upper body and neck strength to progress to the next stage of movement.

The child then pushes up onto all fours (hands and knees) and begins to rock forward and backwards. This action also strengthens their upper and lower body and programs their muscles and brain. It also releases a reflex that all children are born with. 
If this reflex is not released through the normal process of development, the child may experience difficulty crawling. Simple rocking games, songs and activities can help enhance this process.

The child then begins to push themselves forward using their arms and legs. Sometimes they may also go backwards until they can control the forward action or get some guidance from adults.

But remember... children will do things instinctively when their body and brain processes are ready. Do not force an action before the child is ready... both in mind and body.

Encourage the child to crawl for as long as they can and don't be in a hurry for them to walk. Crawling is the very first experience a child has with a cross pattering action. This involves an opposite arm and opposite leg action. The more the child crawls the more brain patterning occurs through the cross patterning action that the child is experiencing by crawling.

This cross patterning action is necessary for the development of pathways that connect and send information between the left and right sides of the brain. 

And... it gets better! Not only does crawling develop important brain pathways, but it develops mobility, mid-line cross over, hand-eye co-ordination, alternate arm and leg action, upper body strength, spatial awareness, balance, muscle tone, eye focus, finger and fine motor strength and independence.

Commando crawling (lying on the stomach using arms and legs to push along) and bottom shuffling (sitting upright and using the legs to move forward) are not a substitute for crawling. They are a way of mobility for the child to get from one place to another but will not be as effective as an actual crawling action for brain patterning.

Fear not!... If your child has only crawled for a little while and went straight to walking (as my 2 sons did at the tender age of 10 months... too early!!!!), there are many wonderful games and activities that you can play with them that will still allow them to gain the vital cross patterning action e.g. crawling games and activities, songs and chants that involve the crawling actions.

For older children already at school with co-ordination difficulties, lots of marching activities, games, dancing and songs are fun and non-threatening to participate in as part of the normal learning environment. Sport is a wonderful outlet for energy and emotions, team works and social aspects but can also enhance the cross patterning action through the skipping and running required in most sports. Remember... walking and running require a fluid cross patterning action to be effective!

So...enjoy every stage of a child's learning and development. It is all important... especially crawling.

More practical ideas to come... so keep an eye on this website.

If you would like more ideas now on how to enhance crawling experiences check out the Moving To Learn book and CD

Please note:
If using any of this information for adult training or other use besides personal, please inform the author and acknowledge the source of information.