The pumping of the legs can be tricky for some kiddos if your child struggles with coordination. I use verbal cues such as “ kick out” and “ pull in”. How I facilitate pumping of the legs is to stand perpendicular to the child and physically assist them with the pumping for a few trials.
Bear crawling up the slide is an excellent way to get weight bearing through all four extremities, provide the joints with good proprioceptive input, help provide sensory regulation, and activates the core!
Placing your child’s feet on the swing with their hands on the ground, this will make a modified plank. You can have your child walk forward and backwards while they are holding a plank! This is very advanced, requires upper extremity and core strength! If your child likes a competition, join in the fun with them and see who can hold it the longest. I guarantee you will feel the burn too! ; )
If your kiddo likes to climb up the steps with the same leg leading every time, try and encourage them to go up with every other leg (enforcing an alternating pattern). You can facilitate this by holding down the leg they like to lead with forcing the other leg to lead.
There are multiple ways you can set this up and adjust the difficulty! Place your child’s hands on the side of the slide or on the steps of your swing set (the higher up the hands are, the easier it will be). You can use verbal cueing to help your child understand what a mountain climber is such as “knee to belly and switch”. If this is too easy and you are up for a challenge, put their hands on a dynamic surface, for instance the swing. Ouch, this will be tough! Feel the burn! You can always change up their leg movements as well. Have your child jump their legs out and then in (jumping jack motion) while their hands are weight bearing on any of the surfaces mentioned.
Amanda Rohkohl is a pediatric physical therapist at NAPA Center. Originally from the frigid and cold state of Michigan, Amanda moved to LA for the love of sunshine, sandy beaches, and endless options of hot yoga studios.