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Why Do Children Spin?
May 22, 2013
The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
-Ellen Parr
"So, what is going on when children spin, roll, swing, bounce, jump, and generally get dizzy?" asks Jan White in her Exchange (May/June 2013) article, "Somersaults and Spinning: The Serious Work of Children’s Neurological Development."  She answers...

One of the most foundational requirements for good functioning in life and ‘school readiness’ is having a strong sense of equilibrium in relation to space and gravity.  Strongly developed balance allows you to feel good in your body and able to control and manage it well.  It operates automatically and unconsciously so that attention is fully available for other things.  When it is not working well, however, we feel very unwell and it is difficult to think or ­operate in daily life.  This can be a common component of many special needs conditions, such as ADHD, dyspraxia, and autism.

The ability to detect motion and respond to it to provide balance operates through a sensory system called the vestibular sense.  This system is the first sensory ­system to start developing (16 weeks after conception) and our other senses both operate through it and need to be strongly integrated with it....

"A vast amount of movement is required for the brain to fully develop and then fine-tune its ability to interpret all the motion possibilities.  This also needs to be matched with vision, hearing, and sensory information coming from inside the body (proprioception).  Rather than actually balancing and staying still, it is movement in gravity that makes this sensory system wire up in the brain and body.  It is perhaps not surprising to find that these are the very things that young ­children most want to do and find such pleasure in!"   

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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
United States
05/22/2013 10:38 am

If kinesthetic learning is important, pre-schools and elementary schools should offer perceptual motor training programs that correspond with the academic program.
How is baby yoga different fromPMT? PMT works on balance and critical thinking.
For example, can you balance on one part of your body in the circle?
We need perceptual motor skills to help the children become more confident about body awareness in space.

Jennifer Carsen
Daycare In Demand
Portsmouth, NH, United States
05/22/2013 04:42 am

This is fascinating - so there's an explanation for my spinning 3-year-old beyond her innate goofiness!

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