Level 4 Koalas (18 Months to2 Years)
At 18 months of age toddlers are walking with greater balance, running everywhere and climbing everything! Jumping is the exciting new skill at this age with two feet together, and of course hanging with two hands and arms together.
Development of Speech, Improving Motor Skills, and Following Commands
Scooting along on push-alongs is definitely in! All movement actions in a GymbaROO class are now delivered more slowly in order to promote voluntary movements by the little ones on their own! At this age, not only are their developing skills strengthened, but they are becoming able to initiate body movements, not possible before, as they enter the dramatic growth spurt of the two year olds.
For some, speech is developing, for others they are still perfecting their motor skills. Toddlers are beginning to understand descriptive words, such as ‘big’ and ‘little’, and concept words such as ‘over’ and ‘under’. As they climb the equipment we encourage parents to repeatedly use concept words so that not only do they hear the word, they also move accordingly – ‘over the ladder’, ‘under the bar’ and ‘through the tunnel’. This improves speech and word usage, and provides the automatic understanding of what these concepts mean. Linking the word to the movement really embeds the concept in the mind. These concepts are important for later writing skills – to write a letter you need to move the pencil up, down and around to create the required shape.
Toddlers can now follow two commands in a row. In the GymbaROO class everything is now geared to introducing and strengthening the toddler’s ability to follow two commands in all activities possible, i.e. collect a puffa ball and sit on it!
Learning, Movement and Music Activities for 18 Months – 2 Years of Age
We continue to sing well known nursery rhymes, or songs from the program CD’s. Toddlers are now attempting to join in with enthusiasm! Music stimulates movement and learning in a fun and exciting way. Movement in rhythm both musical and without music – the basis of coordination, is encouraged through both exercises and dance activities and especially through the continuation of the ‘crocodile’.
This is the stage where we introduce rhythm sticks, as we not only use them for rhythm, but for fine motor work. The development of the fine motor muscles of the hands and fingers comes after the gross motor stage of the bigger muscles of the body that enable us to walk upright. Rhythm sticks can now be used for rhythm time with more body awareness and auditory commands increased to two at a time.
Crossing the overhead ladder is now part of every session. As is the ‘crocodile’ movement during the massage session. These essential skills provide our brain with the neuronal pathways and connections that create the foundational platforms for later learning.
Toddlers are starting to learn their colours. Matching of colours is done on every possible occasion, with the beanbags, ladder rungs and parachute. Do not expect them to know the colours yet – matching comes before colour identification.
Toddlers will move to 2 Years – 2.5 Years Classes when they are:
- approx 2 – 2 1/2 years
- mastered jumping
- confident climbing and hanging
- tic-toc and balancing on one leg briefly
- copying body movements
- increased attention span
- following instructions