Welcome to the Jungle page for Core Stability - for children and young people with any ability and disability
This page gives you ideas, information and activities to help to your Jungle child develop core stability.
Core stability refers to the strength in your tummy and back and the amount of control and balance between all these muscles. Core stability is generally built up as we develop and try out new and more complex movements.
Core stability is key to the workings of your whole body. If you have good core stability, both your arms and legs will work better as they are attached to a stable base.
With a good core it is much easier to have good fine and gross motor skills (movement skills).
A good core allows you to balance in different positions. It enables you to stay still and balanced while your arms and legs work (e.g. walking) or to stay upright when you are on a moving surface (e.g. a bus)
Our bodies are constantly seeking balance so having a good core allows your child to concentrate better as they are able to stay still.
If your child’s muscles are weak or if one muscle is weaker than the other, or if the messages to the muscles tell them to work too hard (high tone) or not hard enough (low tone) then it is possible that your child will have poor core stability and your child’s other movement skills will be affected.
For the child who is mobile on the floor, they may have some core stability but may move in fairly two dimensional ways (forward and back or side to side but not much rotation). This will mean that they may not have full core stability as rotation is a key element.
A good core is a great starting point for any child (or adult for that matter) so working through these activities will be helpful even if your child doesn’t display any particular difficulties.
Here are some core stability exercises to work through with your child. Go down the list and find the first level that they would find a little difficult. This is your starting point. Enjoy that activity until they can manage it well. If they can’t manage a certain activity, move them back a section or move onto the next section. You can be practicing several exercises/ activities in the same session to be more effective.
Make sure your child is successful in their game as this will motivate them to continue. As you push them to get to the next level, they should be able to manage a few of their attempts to keep motivated-even if they are not successful at all of them.
Remember to praise the effort rather than the result to motivate them to keep putting in effort and not be put off if they don’t succeed.
Core stability exercises and activities for the non-mobile child
Tummy Time is a brilliant position for strengthening your child’s neck and back.
Use a rolled up towel under their chest to help them to push up on their elbows or hands.
In this position – looking up, reaching with their hands or just propping on elbows are all good for working the neck and back. Read them a book or watching TV may keep them motivated to keep looking up and pushing through their hands or elbows.
With your child lying on their back, encourage them to touch their toes.
You could put bells or beads on their feet and help them bring their feet up in the air so that they can reach towards their toes.
If they struggle bringing their feet up, place a small rolled up towel under the lower end of their bottom so their feet are already off the floor. You could also roll up a towel and put it under their head and shoulders to help them see what they are doing and bring their arms off the floor.
This can be in ring sit (with their hips wide and knees a bit bent) side sitting (legs going off to one side and leaning through 1 arm), long sitting (with legs straight out in front) or crossed leg sitting.
Start by helping them into the position and slowly reduce your support to see if they can stay still. If you need distraction, watching or reading are good as they can stay still for these.
Once they can stay still, start playing with them so that they are using their hands but staying upright.
Move on to reaching outside their base of support – side to side, in front or reaching behind them
You could also play ‘stuck like glue’ where they have to try and stay upright and you try (gently) to push them over.
Once they can sit still on the floor, try sitting them up astride your leg (with you sat on the floor and your legs straight), sat astride a roll or on a bench so their feet are on the floor but their bodies are not supported. As they adjust to this stay close so you can help them if they fall. They can watch or read something in this position so they don’t have to use their hands.
When they are able to balance when they are still, challenge them by encouraging them to reach out to the side for a toy, reaching to the floor and back up or trying to reach out behind them to challenge their core and their balance.
Start just trying to maintain a hands and knees position. It may be easier to start with the child sitting back on their heels and just balancing through their arms.
As they get stronger, move their bodies forward until their shoulders are over their hands and their hips are over their knees.
In this position you can have loads of fun – play on a tablet with 1 hand, roll balls back and forwards, use a ball for a game of skittles etc.
Once your child is pulling up to standing on furniture, try challenging their balance by standing them on a wobble cushion (a cushion filled with air) or just a sofa cushion to challenge their core a bit more while they hold on to furniture.
Try standing with 1 foot up on a block or books.
Ask them to reach forward, to the side and down to pick up objects/ hit a drum/ post an object in a container etc.
Pushing a trolley, cruising along furniture and standing with their backs to the wall are also lovely exercises to strengthen the core.
Core stability exercises and activities for the mobile child
Your child lies on their back and lifts their legs to their chest and holds on to their knees with their arms. See if they can lift their head and hold up to 20 seconds in the roll up position without rolling over or dropping their head
Try playing ball in this position – keeping their knees up but holding a ball behind their head and then throwing it towards their feet. You can then hold the ball above your child’s feet for them to come and pick up again.
In the same position, throw a ball in the air and your child needs to kick the ball up in the air back to you with both feet.
Lying flat on their tummy with their arms up in front of them and legs straight behind them. They should try to lift their arms up and head up off the floor and hold for 20 seconds. This could be to reach for a toy or play something on a tablet.
Next they should try to lift their arms and their legs and hold for 20 seconds.
They could roll a ball back and forward out in front of them from this position.
Your child lies on their back with their feet on a gym/ physio ball (or on a cushion if there is no ball available) against the wall.
Move the cushion/ ball up and down the wall and then side to side. Try drawing a picture or writing their name with their feet on the ball.
Next, the child should try to keep the ball still while you try to move it side to side.
Lying on their back with their knees bent and their feet on the floor. Lift their bottom up and try and hold it up for 20 seconds. You can try to drive some cars under their bottom to help encourage them to hold it up.
Next try lying on their back with their knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift 1 leg in the air. Now lift their bottom and try to keep it up for 20 seconds with their hips staying level.
Lying on their back with their knees bent and 1 leg up. Keeping their bottom lifted try lowering their straight leg down and then bring it up again (staying higher than the other thigh).
Start with your child sat on the floor and their hands out behind them and facing their feet and with their knees bent (feet on the floor). Encourage them to lift their bottom up and hold it so they make the shape of a table.
Make it more challenging by balancing a toy or even a ball on their tummy while they walk around in all directions.
Next they could pretend to be different animals and make a game of it – try being a snake on the floor, or bear walking on hands and feet, or doing kangaroo jumps.
Make an obstacle course and challenge your child to complete it as different animals.
Start with your child lying on their tummy with their hands at chest level. They should push themselves up (or help them to come up) so that their weight is just on their hands and their feet.
How long can they hold this position? Make sure their bottom isn’t up in the air but that they also aren’t letting their tummy sag down. Drive some cars or roll some balls under them to encourage them to keep their tummy up. Can they touch the car/ ball as it passes under?
They could also do this facing you or a sibling and try clapping 1 of their hands together. See how many claps they can do – try to get to 20 claps.
These should be done with help from an adult to make sure they are safe. Help your child to;
Sit on a gym ball and try and balance while they move their bottom around.
Try to lift 1 foot off the floor and keep balancing
Try to lift both feet off the floor.
Roll over the ball on their tummy until their hands reach the floor. Keep walking forward on their hands until only their feet are still on the ball. Walk backwards until they are fully back on the ball.
They can make this more interesting by picking up puzzle pieces and doing a puzzle or by picking up beanbags to throw into a bucket.
Lying on their back on the gym ball. Hold your child’s feet down as they reach for an object on the floor behind the ball. Ask them to bring the object back up to throw into a container.
Hold your child by their hips with their legs straddling you and their hands on the floor. Move around the floor picking up objects for as far as you can go.
Move your hands down to your child’s knees and walk around the room – picking up objects or playing a matching game or skittles.
If you can, hold your child by their ankles. Make sure they keep their bottom in the air and don’t hang their tummy’s down. Again find a game to make this more entertaining.
As your child gets stronger you could try to get from one end of the house to another – even trying going up the stairs.
You could also make an obstacle course to go around.
On their hands and knees with their shoulders over their hands and their hips over their knees – reach 1 arm straight out in front of them in the air – you can challenge them to balance a beanbag or soft toy on the back of their hand to keep it up. Try and hold for 1 minute.
Now try and lift 1 leg straight out behind them. Try and hold this for 1 minute.
Can they do an opposite arm and leg at the same time and hold it for 1 minute?
Try the other side.
Try standing on 1 leg with a foot on a ball. Can you move the ball around in circles or forward and backward?
Now just try standing on 1 leg.
Can you still do this while throwing a ball in the air?
Now try to stand on a wobble cushion (a cushion with air in it) or just a small well stuffed pillow or a few pillows on top of each other.
Can you do this on 1 leg?
And while throwing and catching?
How about on 1 leg and picking up a ball from the floor to play with skittles or target practice?
Here are a selection of suitable videos for Jungle
Silly Socks and a bit of Boccia
We have created some fun easy to set up games. All you need are some socks!
This bear hunt is suitable for children with learning difficulties. You can use lots of objects that you can find around your house to create this bear hunt!
Stealthy Ways for Handwashing
This video contains tips on how to ‘stealth handwash’ whilst still having fun with various kitchen or household props.
This obstacle course is suitable for those children who can crawl along the floor.
This video is suitable for mobile children. You can create the laser string quest anywhere in your home and make it as big or small or as easy as you like!
The scavenger hunt is really simple and easy to set up. It can be adapted to suit any disability and household.