Helping children develop movement skills with Tree Fu Tom

The spells in Tree Fu Tom have all been designed to help with the development of movement skills. By Dr Lynda Foulder-Hughes: Paediatric Occupational Therapist and Panel Member at the Dyspraxia Foundation.

Twigs and Tom

Developing Movement Skills

The term ‘motor skills’ refers to movement, both gross (big) and fine (small). Gross motor represents ‘big’ movements such as running, jumping, and hopping; fine motor refers to smaller, precision movements such as handwriting, using a knife and fork, and tying shoe laces. Foundation movements are the building blocks that, when added together, create complex movements. If a child has not developed foundation movement skills by the age of six it is likely that they will experience significant difficulties with everyday tasks both at home and in school. The spells in Tree Fu Tom have all been designed to help with the development of foundation movement skills.

Most of the spells in Tree Fu Tom include a proprioceptive element – this is the ability to know and feel where your body is moving without looking - which is needed for activities such as brushing hair, tucking in shirts at the back, and playing sports like football. The spells also focus on pelvic stability, shoulder stability and balance, which are needed for activities like learning how to dress, and bilateral co-ordination (controlling what the different sides of your body are doing), which helps with skills such as feeding and writing. The spells also teach spatial concepts such as up, down, away from and into the body to help children understand, experience and control how their bodies move.

One of the biggest factors in acquiring and developing new skills is practice. Children learn through a process of trial, error, repetition and copying others. The sequences of spell movements in Tree Fu Tom are repeated, providing an opportunity for children to practise the movements. We hope that the audience will really engage with the spells and incorporate them into their everyday play, repeating them after the show has ended and gaining even more practice!

We hope that succeeding at performing the spells and helping Tom to save the day will have a dramatic positive impact on self esteem. As children are encouraged to join in with the spells at home, in order to make the magic work on screen, they get the sense that they have made a positive contribution, which we hope will raise their self esteem.

All children have the capacity to improve their current movement skills and to gain new skills through practice. The spells in Tree Fu Tom allow children to experience unfamiliar, positive and challenging movement opportunities that, with practice, will really help them to improve their co-ordination and self confidence at a crucial time in their development. Tree Fu Tom is not just entertaining; it is a powerful tool in helping children to experience beneficial movement in a fun and positive way.

To find out more, visit the Tree Fu Tom website , or visit the Tree Fu Tom programme page.

Further support articles:

Tree Fu Tom: How Tree Fu Is Designed To Help Your Child

Tree Fu Tom: Developing Skills For Classroom Learning

Playing CBeebies Webcam Games

Tree Fu Tom: Behind The Spells

How Tree Fu Tom Can Help Children With Dyspraxia

The Dyspraxia Foundation

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