Making the Most of Swings
Using a swing provides vestibular input that can be organising and regulating for your child. Here are some different ideas for using swings at the park or at home:
Tug of War – your child needs to lie on their stomach over the swing. Give them a strong scarf or a skipping rope to hold and you hold the other end. Stand about a metre away and gently pull the rope. You can also try getting your child to pull the rope to get themselves swinging. Your child will benefit from proprioceptive input as well as vestibular input and lying on their stomach helps with postural control.
Flying – again, your child needs to lie on their stomach. As they swing you hold out an item such a toy or beanbag for them to grab. You can start easy by having the items really close and then make it harder. Make sure you are encouraging them to reach for items on both sides of the body and make it harder by trying to get them to reach for the item on their left side with their right hand and vice versa so they are crossing over their body. This is good for postural control and crossing the midline in this way is important in the development of bilateral integration needed for many self-care and play tasks.
Push mum/dad/nana etc over! – put your hands out and encourage your child to push your hands with their feet as they swing, then you can pretend to nearly fall over. You can push back to provide some resistance meaning this is a great vestibular and proprioceptive activity.
Standing – if your child is able to and you believe it will be safe, encourage your child to kneel or stand on the swing and see if they can get themselves swinging. This is good for postural control and core strength.
Jumping – if you believe your child will be able to do this safely, mark a spot in front of the swing and encourage your child to jump off the swing and land onto the target. You can move the target area slightly further and also to the left and right. This gives even more vestibular input and challenges the vestibulo-occular reflex.
Hide and Seek – ask your child to count to an agreed number whilst you move either to the side, a little further away or behind etc. Challenge them to find you as fast as they can when they open their eyes. Encouraging your child to refocus their eyes on you whilst moving is working on postural ocular control and swinging with their eyes closed helps with body awareness and vestibular input.