Friday, September 10, 2010

Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn and Grow, A Rich Resource Review

Parents of children who need OT, but cannot afford it often look for frugal ways to provide therapy at home.  Parents of children who cannot afford My Gym and other such classes often look for less expensive ways to incorporate motor development at home.  Educators with limited school budgets but little to no PE or motor development training may find themselves suddenly in charge of leading such activities.  What to do?  Perhaps turn to Growing and In-Sync Child -- a great resource for parents and educators on this Frugal Friday, which I have reviewed below.

Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow
* * * * 1/2

Recently, I devoured Growing an In-Sync Child, co-written by the author of the well-known Out-of-Sync Child and Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun.  Why was I able to devour it despite having two preschoolers and one infant with me 24-7?  Because it is so easily read!  (and it earns its first star for this.)

Written by professionals in the fields of Early Education, Sensory Processing Disorder and Perceptual Motor Therapy, Growing an In-Sync Child makes topics and activities that are often accessible only to experts in classrooms and therapeutic offices around the world easy to understand and implement by even untrained  parents and educators.  Short chapters, concise information, helpful charts and easy-to-follow “recipes” for activities, as well as examples of the how and why behind the activities, make this handy guide work well for busy parents and educators who want to read it in snippets as time allows or refer to it as needed when observations of children’s needs demand a new approach.  Plus, hundreds of examples of WHY different skills are necessary make words such as “vestibular processing ("for standing while following verbal directions", "for sitting at a picnic table", "for doing gymnastics", etc.) and “laterality” ("for holding a bag and stuffing it with leaves",  "for sliding into home plate", "for talking on the telephone", etc.) easily understood.  And, I love the way the book avoids the typical “he” vs. “she” gender issue that so many books of this nature struggle with:  For each activity,  a name for a child is given – Michelle, Thom, Marvin, Kelly-Ann and so on.  The "he" or "she" follows naturally from there.  This works to make the activities seem real and personal, as opposed to generic and clinical. 

Indeed, authors Carol Kranowitz and Joye Newman did a fantastic job making this book accessible to everyone. Brief chapters, which explain theory and the importance of motor-development activities for young children, a chapter that details the story of three children who required early intervention and how focusing on motor development helped them academically and socially as well, page after page of activity "recipes” and multiple charts make the book an informative, easy read.  Without question, these make Growing an In-Sync Child very relevant to anyone living or working with young children.

I can attest that I, with one child who has SPD, one who does not but is a three-year-old sensory seeker and one who is but an infant beginning to master basic motor skills, had many “Ahh, that makes sense,” and “Oo, we’ll try that,” moments while reading this book.  I loved the pages in the back, which focus on walking, running, jumping, balancing, hopping/skipping/galloping, throwing, catching, climbing and striking/kicking.  These provide a quick inventory on what children can be expected to do for each skill at ages two to three, three to four, four to five and five to six, which, for me, offered comfort about some things I was concerned about with my children as well as direction for skills we might focus on in the weeks and months to come.  Also, with the book’s brief, yet complete explanations of tactile processing, vestibular processing, proprioception, balance, bilateral coordination, body awareness, laterality, midline crossing, motor planning, spacial awareness, acuity, binocularity and visual tracking, otherwise “technical” terms and related concepts become understandable.  After reading the book, even a layperson can explain such terms to others and with 60 or so ready-made activities that are fully laid out for children of beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of motor-skills to try anyone can implement motor development activities with confidence in the everyday life of children.  The book gets a star for relevance.

Truly, Growing an In-Sync Child contains a plethora of practical information.  It not only offers the aforementioned 60 activities in an easy-to-read and implement format (Helps Your Child Develop and Enhance, What You need, What You Do, Ways to Make It More Challenging and What to Look For), but it also offers instant “menus” of activities to try by In-sync Component (such as body awareness and balance) and Time and Place (such as Doing During Your Nightly Routine and When You Have No Equipment).    Additionally, it contains a helpful table of activities by level and necessary equipment.  (Another star!)

With three children under five, I know the table will come in handy and I also am confident I can draw ideas from Growing an In-Sync Child for quite a while.  Thus, I want to give this book another full star for its longevity potential.  However, I also admit that parents and educators whose children are a bit older may not find the book as useful for as long.  So, I am only going to give it a half-of-star for longevity.  That being said, the book offers enough that I would still encourage those who work with children on the upper end of the “young children” spectrum to check out the book.  It is worth it and, when kids “age out” of the activities, the book would make a fantastic pass-along as a donation to a library, school or friend.

Growing an In-Sync Child earns a fifth star from me as it is definitely worth the trouble of ordering from inter-library loan if your own library doesn’t carry it.  In fact, after doing so just once, I am putting this book on my when-we-have-money-in-the-book-budget list and planning to order it from our Virtual Library service again soon in the meantime.  While there are many books I can read once or twice, take notes on and move on, and just as many that offer some good activities, this one stands out as one that invites paging through time and time again. There are just so many activity ideas I want to try in it given different ages and stages the kids will go through.  Practical tips, little reminders... I simply cannot take notes on them all.  I want the book on my personal shelves!

Obviously, I like this book and encourage others to take a look at it.  It is easy-to-use, chock-full-of-ideas and great for families and educators of young children who want to integrate simple, fun motor development activities into life and learning.  In my opinion, Growing an In-Sync Child truly lives up to its claims of being an easy to use, portable, expandable, inclusive and economical program that is developmentally-based, flexible and adaptable while addressing many skills simultaneously.  Full of riveting, ingenious, “new” ideas?  Perhaps, it is not.  (How many times can the motor development wheel be re-invented?)  Replete with easy-to-implement, targeted,  and enjoyable activities?  It is!  (The wheel can definitely be engineered to work better for today's drivers.)  As such, I highly recommend this book to all parents and educators of young children.  Get the kids away from the TV, off their bottoms and out of the rut of training just their brains.  Move, move, move to enhance their physical, emotional, academic and overall success through sharing some fantastic  motor development activities from the book's pages.

For an example of a simple activity from the book see the In-Sync Child website. 

To see what I base my star criteria on, please see my first Rich Resource Review post.  And, if you have resources you have found helpful for homeschooling, homemaking, Montessori, Reggio, Classical Ed, Charlotte Mason, Early Education, etc., do share.  I love checking such things out.

This post is being shared at Life as Mom's Frugal Fridays.  Click on the links there to find more tips for getting more for less.


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