Thursday, May 8, 2008

On Crawling and Learning “Glitches”

A lot of you may not know this, but in my pre-homeschooling life, I was a Physical Therapist. Well, still am really, because I keep my license, I just don’t work as a PT very much.

Several times I have heard people discussing neurodevelopmental theories and how they apply to homeschooling. Last year, at our state homeschooling convention, we listened to Dianne Craft, who was so helpful at explaining some of the theories and how we can apply these things at home to help children who are struggling to learn. It is very interesting, and it helped me connect some ideas for my right-brained learner.

This past weekend, I went to the state homeschooling convention again. We had a speaker similar to Dianne Craft, and she was also helpful. However, she said something that I have heard thrown around from time to time in education, and I thought I would address it here.

Her comment had to do with the use of walkers, exersaucers, and jumpers for infants. She was against the use of these devices and said that they were actually bad for babies, as they discourage crawling, and crawling is important for brain development.

This is where I take issue. That is actually a very old theory, that babies have to crawl for proper brain development to take place. Research now shows that crawling is not really an important milestone, and many children in developing countries never learn to crawl. They are carried by their mothers and other adults in slings and other devices, so they never have to crawl.

I just want to say please do not feel bad for using a walker or such for your baby. Even if your child is now struggling in some area, there is no real evidence that it is because of some toy or device used when the child was small. A child that is having trouble in an area might skip crawling because it is too hard for them, but in that case, the problem was already there, and was not caused because they didn’t crawl.

There is a fault to these devices, but it is only for a very small population of children. If there are real physical problems, often a baby will like to be up in a walker because he can’t feel stable propped up on his arms. If you want more info about this, please comment me. I don’t want to say a whole lot here, because most kids do not have these problems.
(Reposted from my HomeschoolBlogger page 6/13/08)


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