How does balance develop?
Have you ever wondered how kids develop balance? And did you know that if balance development is delayed, a child can also experience learning difficulties?
In order to achieve balance, three of the body’s systems must be working together effectively:
- Vestibular (ears)
- Visual (eyes)
- Proprioception (sense of where the body is)
The only one of these that is hardwired into us at birth is the vestibular. As a baby, this is where we begin to learn balance. As we grow to a toddler, we combine the vestibular and the visual. It is around age three that a transition takes place from vestibular control in conjunction with vision to that based on touch and sensation.
Proprioception is the brain’s ability to sense the relative positions and movements of the different body parts. It helps you know exactly where your hand is in space as you move it around, even when your eyes are closed.
Preschool aged children develop their vestibular system and build the sensory integration that leads to the maturation of the eye movements required for efficient reading and learning.
Since balance combines inputs from this entire system, all of these sensory functions must work precisely to form our sense of balance. Understanding this helps us understand how the sensory integration skills that are required for balance are also required for learning systems overall.
Reading difficulties can occur and learning development will be delayed when the relationship between balance and other systems is out of sync.
“When kids stabilize themselves from an unstable pose, they learn how to focus faster and more efficiently,” says Catherine Jackson, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Kinesiology at California State University at Fresno.
Starting on a Strider Balance Bike helps a child develop balance at a young age – as early as 18 months. Many parents have told us that their kids who start on a Strider Bike transition faster and easier to a pedal bike than other siblings who started on tricycles or bikes with training wheels.