- Family and Parenting
“Spin Your Kids Around”
Kids love to spin in circles. They love playing “Ring around the Rosy” and if there is no one else to play with, just spinning around all by themselves--the faster, the better. Love of spinning seems to come naturally. Have you ever wondered why? Typically, parents are worried that their children will get too dizzy and hurt themselves, but experts from several different fields are now telling parents to encourage their children to spin. There are solid scientific reasons for this.
Spinning develops the vestibular system.
The vestibular apparatus is the inner ear and its connection to the brain through tiny hairs that are moved by the liquid in the inner ear. This allows the brain to control the body’s balance. It has three functions: 1. Enabling the person to feel the sensation of motion and spatial orientation, 2. Prompting the nervous system to adjust muscle motion to keep the body in an upright position, and 3. Controlling the eyes as the head moves. (1)
Your child’s brain is constantly refining its ability to quickly get your child re-balanced after getting off balance. Spinning seems to enable the brain to accomplish this naturally by trial and error. The experts recommend that you encourage your child to spin, but explain the right way to spin. Who knew that there was a right or wrong way to do what kids have been doing for millennia? Nevertheless, those in the know tell us that our children need to spin in one direction until they are a little dizzy, pause to get reoriented, then spin in the opposite direction. This pause between spins lets the brain build a repertoire of ways to restore balance.
Researchers did a spinning experiment with babies ages three to thirteen months and discovered that not only did the infants love being spun, but after 16 spinning sessions (four per week for four weeks), they showed advanced development in their gross motor skills (sitting crawling, standing and walking) compared to two control groups. Moreover, their reflexes also improved significantly. For more details, see link (2) below. This surprising result gives us insight into how spinning positively affects not only balance, but brain-muscle responses and speed of motor development.
Spinning enhances memory.
Educators have discovered that spinning has a direct and immediate effect on memory. “Spinning until dizzy in the direction of the dominant hand (the one used for writing) has been shown to improve memory.” (4) This was demonstrated in the classroom. The study highlighted both a Title I teacher of at-risk students and a kindergarten teacher who had their students spin immediately after practicing sight and early reading words. These children consistently had measurable improvement in word recall after spinning.
Parents have also tried having their children spin until dizzy after studying spelling words. The results were a significant improvement in grades on the spelling tests. According to Teacher-Support-Force.com, “Research indicates that three minutes of spinning could quadruple memory tracks among children!” (5) Children who are right-handed should spin only to the right, and children who are left-handed should spin only to the left when doing word-learning activities like these.
Spinning is your child’s reset button.
When children get emotionally out of sync, spinning in circles seems to act like the reset button on a computer and reboot them. Spinning somehow restores self-regulation and improves focus. So, we can see why dancing, which often involves spinning, seems to relax and sharpen awareness in both adults and children. Shelly Birger Phillips, M.A. Psychology, who has worked with the Montesori School says, “If your child is having trouble with focus or emotion regulation, try encouraging movements like spinning and swinging and you’ll notice a huge change...At Montessori school, we used the swings to help kids focus at least several times a week.”(3)
An offshoot of spinning is “rocking.”
This type of rocking is done either while sitting in a Bilobo or a Rock Around or standing on a Spooner Board, all three of which both rock and spin, requiring your child to keep catching and correcting his or her balance. Kids love these unique toys! They keep trying until they master the motions, but love the surprise of almost losing their balance. Meanwhile, in their brains, their vesticular system is teaching them how to judge spatial orientation. Spinning and rocking also help children develop quick reflexes.
Safe, Fun Spinning Toys.
With the new toys that are available today, there are safe ways to let your child spin and reap these benefits: Let your child test out “Sit and Spin” toys and spinning swings. As the experts suggest, for balance and general play, the children should spin one direction until dizzy, rest until their balance seems to come back, then spin in the other direction.
To find these toys—and lots more—Go to the “PARENTS' STUFF” AMAZON STORE.
Parents’ Stuff carries great “stuff” for your kids—everything from toys to educational games to outdoor swing sets.
Just click on http://astore.amazon.com/parentsstuff-astore-20,
Then click on the “Sit & Spin Toys” category to see the selection of spinning and rocking toys.
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Share what YOU think!
How often do your kids spin?
Remember how it felt to spin around when you were a child? Do you actively encourage your children to spin or would you rather they didn't? Share your opinion with us.
Are you thinking about trying the one-directional spinning to help your children remember their spelling words? This activity will have your kids begging to study for their spelling tests!
Do you feel that spinning might make a difference for your children? How?
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