Written by Dr Tessa Grigg
Welcome to 2022 and all the new possibilities of a new year. How exciting for families to be back at GymbaROO-KindyROO. We are really keen for all that moving, learning and shining to be back in our centres. However, there may be a level of anxiety for some children and adults due to COVID-19’s progression. Rules have been changing regularly, and some aspects of our program will look slightly different to the seasoned GymbaROO-KindyROOers. What are the best ways to manage this?
Firstly, and most importantly, your children need to move. They need a wide range of movement activities and experiences to help their brains develop. Recent American research (Deoni S.C.L. et al., 2021) identified impacts on the verbal, motor and cognitive development of children born during the pandemic. These children arrived at a time when stress levels were high and there were restrictions requiring families to stay home. The researchers believe that the reduction in the variety of stimulation these children received has impacted language development and cognitive and motor skills. This difference was most significant in low-income families, where maternal education was also low. This suggests that parent information relating to ensuring young children receive crucial movement activities, especially when there are restrictions, is vital and can change the child’s developmental trajectory. GymbaROO-KindyROO is an excellent place to experience a smorgasbord of the necessary movement opportunities and important child development information.
Secondly, during the first few weeks of this term, you may see some behaviours in your child that you do not recognise. They may suddenly become withdrawn or have difficulty focusing on the task at hand. We are expecting this. The stimulation of the class, the equipment and all the people may be quite challenging for some children.
To manage this phase, go gently. Be gentle with yourself and your child. This is a time of big emotions and we need to help children navigate them successfully.
- Ensure all children and adults are well fed and hydrated before coming to a class. Being hungry and/or dehydrated is never successful in these situations
- For older children, let them run around freely just before coming to class so they can focus more easily
- If your child does not want to join in, that is fine. If you carry on and enjoy the activities with the teacher, it may encourage your child to do so when ready
- If your child becomes a little aggressive and does not cope with other children being in close proximity, find ways to avoid tight spaces until a level of comfort returns
- Children are naturally curious, so use that to enhance the experience. If your child is not engaged in the GymbaROO-KindyROO class and appears not to concentrate, you may need to spark a sense of curiosity. Say to them, “Wow, that looks fun!”, “What is Lucas doing over there?”, “Come on, let’s have a go!”. Get involved in the activities with your child, praise and have fun together. Your one-on-one positive attention can make a big difference.
We look forward to this term of fun and learning, and getting back to our business of helping your children develop to their full potential.
Deoni S.C.L., Beauchemin J, Volpe A, & D’Sa V. (2021). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early child cognitive development: Initial findings in a longitudinal observational study of child health. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.