Guest Author - Julixa Newman
Twins are susceptible to developmental lags as a result of the complications from high risk pregnancies, including prematurity and low birth weight. As a result, twin parents must sometimes get creative to stimulate their development. The following paragraphs contain some activities that can stimulate both gross and fine development skills in toddlers-and also engage them with each other, which is a wonderful developmental advantage in itself. The gross motor skills refer to such activities that involve larger muscles, including walking, pushing, pulling etc-more full body movements. Fine motor skills are more precise movements that are usually partial body movements, such as coloring, using utensils, or even pushing/rolling a ball while sitting down.
1. Catch and Roll-Place the toddlers on the floor about 5 feet away from each other sitting with their legs out in a "V" shape. Show one how to put their hands on the ball, and roll it to the other. Five feet is a good starting point; too far, and they will struggle to reach the other child-too close and it will bounce away from the other before there is enough time to grab the ball. If the children are having trouble grasping the exercise, join them and make a triangle pattern so that you can include yourself in the game. This game is excellent for hand eye coordination, and as I said before, having a twin is the greatest play date in the world-who better than someone your own age (living in your own house) to enjoy the same activities as you?
2. Catch a Hug-This game encourages walking, and what better than having a twin to spur additional motivation? Get down on your knees about 3-4 feet from the children and ask for a big hug. When a child gets to your arms, reward them with a huge hug and kiss, and give them positive feedback for reaching you. Soon you can back up further and further, and what parent doesn't have a wonderful time kissing up their kids?
3. Get outside!-When weather appropriate, the outdoors and the fresh air can be revitalizing. Do you have room for a sandbox? I know they're messy sometimes, but the fine motor skills a child works by pouring, filling, scooping and dumping are really too many to count. Some new models even come with a half sandbox-half water table which doubles the fun! Plus, the water play is always great for refreshment when it's hot enough to swim and there is no pool available. The sand and water play also provide wonderful sensory stimulation-children need to feel different textures in their fingers just as much as they need to see a wide array of beauty-like trees, flowers and birds!
As the toddlers get older, outdoor catches will have them moving faster and more often than indoors where space is limited and balls can hurt furniture. Swings on sturdy trees are great for feeling the wind, and even swing sets can be found secondhand on sites such as one's local Craigslist or other local buy/sell site. The bottom line is that children can be stimulated by almost any new activity. As a parent, one must strive to be creative so great ideas can be found with little cost!