How to Make Falling Down Fun and Educational
I'm really excited about a game my son came up with, recently.
He thinks it's hilarious to fall down.
Now, you wouldn't think I would be especially stoked about that. After all, he could hurt himself. But I feel like this is an exciting opportunity because it's turning learning how to fall into something fun.
The Anat Baniel Method, our primary form of therapy, talks about falling down as being a very important part of learning to move. If children don't know how to fall down safely, they are paralyzed with fear about moving. In fact, ABM describes walking as falling down and catching yourself with your feet. This makes a lot of sense to me when I watch babies move. They lead with their head and lean towards interesting things. When they lean far enough off their center of gravity, they either fall on their face, or catch themselves with their hands (crawling) or feet (walking).
So I was excited when Malachi started thinking falling down onto me from standing or sitting was really funny. I think this could be an "in" for getting him to learn about how his body interacts best with gravity.
The game we have come up with is he holds on to the bottom dresser drawer while sitting with his legs in various positions.
I guess I should stop and explain this part of the game. A couple months ago, I asked him if he wanted to be sitting "W-style." This is where you sit on your bottom with your knees on the floor in front of you and your feet behind you. He loves letters and the alphabet, so he quickly asked to be "X-style," the next letter of the alphabet. I put him in "criss-cross applesauce" and he laughed and asked for "Y-style" and on and on. Now it's become our mission to figure out sitting positions for all the letters of the alphabet. Once we finish, I think it could be a really cool children's alphabet book. And yes, I'm working on it.
Back to the falling game. So, Malachi holds on to the dresser drawer and asks for a certain sitting style. I put a tall stack of pillows on one side and a single pillow on the other side, then I sit behind him. This way he can choose if he wants to fall a long way or a little way. It also gives him an opportunity to realize how to get himself back up onto the drawer from the tall stack.
So, he holds on to the drawer and says "I'm falling!" or "I'm so afraid!" or "Oh no!" while giggling. I ask him if he wants to fall on the tall pillow or the short pillow or on me. He then tries to position himself so that when he lets go, he falls on his chosen surface. Sometimes he falls where he wants to, sometimes he doesn't, but he is enjoying himself and learning about his body, so I think it's pretty great.
Another thing that is pretty great? While playing this game, he occasionally lets go and doesn't fall for a few seconds. You know what that is? That's sitting independently. Heck yes! Talk about turning "failure" into success!
Now, if I can come up with a game where the object is to catch yourself with your hands, we will be off to the races!