High fives to Jill Howlett Mays MS, OTR/L! Her first book, published in October 2011, is exactly the advice needed by parents, caretakers, and educators working with infants to children aged ten. Most importantly the advice and easy-to-do, enjoyable motor development activities explained in Your Child’s Motor Development Story: Understanding and Enhancing Development from Birth to Their First Sport are exactly what that age group of children needs. Ms. Mays’ parenting advice on their child’s motor development will help their children in various ways. They will be calmer, happier, and confident. This feeling of well being will show itself at home, in preschool, on the playground, and at school in the classroom and gym. Jill H. Mays guides you through each developmental stage of your child. She focuses on the appropriate forms of play that are most beneficial to your youngster’s sensorimotor development.
What Is Meant by a Child’s Motor Development?
Jill Howlett Mays, a mom of two boys and a girl, has worked more than 30 years as an occupational therapist. Jill has a private practice specializing in pediatrics and consultation in sensory motor development. She works with children with autism (ASD), attention deficits disorders (ADD), and other special needs. Jill has been helping parents and educators understand the many concepts of sensory motor development. This process affects not only motor skills but the emotional well-being of the child and the ability to organize and attend to the world as well. On every page you will know that Jill is speaking from experience and that she is knowledgeable about her topic of a child’s motor development.
The author tells us, “Keep in mind the old adage, “We learn from doing.” Our first life experience relate to our senses and how we move in the world… Motor planning develops through a process of self-initiated motor learning. It begins with an infant’s response to her mother’s face, voice, and touch. Primitive reflexes (sucking, grasping, startle…) segue into intentional movements (reaching out to touch something, bringing two hands together voluntarily…) Exploring physical limits, providing the brain with valuable sensorimotor nutrition or stimuli, and learning new ways to move and approach the world help a child become proficient in movement.”
Book Benefits All Parents and Caregivers
Many parents of infants are probably doing a lot of what the author suggests. Reading about it will give them a boost of confidence and a sure path to follow for the rest of the formative years. The author writes, “Equipped with the knowledge of how to stimulate your infant and enhance his development, you will find ample supplies in your current household environment… When simple activities are coupled with actual time that you spend together engaged in play, a very happy and proficient child emerges, and the bond between you will strengthen.”
Your Child’s Motor Development Story is for all parents! It serves as a guide for normally developing children, as well as those who struggle with sensorimotor development. This book is the perfect gift for new parents. You will find practical, logical, and just plain every day play activities that require no program and no expensive equipment. The book begins with infants and follows them through all their developmental stages to their first organized sport as tweens.
To the fortunate children whose parents are already providing an enriched environment with lots of “playtime” activities that help them learn to use their bodies more effectively, this book will urge them to continue and reassure them they are doing things right.
For new parents or caregivers, Your Child’s Motor Development Story will guide and motivate them every step of the way. Jill Howlett Mays often uses backward chaining or case studies to make her reader sit up straight and pay attention. For example the chapter, Other Motor Skills Develop—Infancy through Preschool, we first learn of Jordan, a first grader, who had not developed a preferred hand. The reader’s curiosity is peeked and parents will not forget the advice as Ms. Mays recaps the developmental steps an infant to school age must successfully accomplish to correctly use scissors, drawing crayons, pencil, eating utensils …
For the parents of special needs children, Mays’ case studies and well explained Recommended Activities will give them encouragement and a road map to help get their child on track. They will read what can be accomplished and if their child has missed out on early intervention strategies they will know the value of seeking professional help.
In her Introduction, Ms. Mays writes, “The children in my caseload range from highly gifted children … to children struggling with autism and other neurological impairments. Some are learning to cope with attention-deficit disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder… Many problems point back to early development and difficulties with sensorimotor processing… In most of these cases, early emphasis on sensorimotor development would prevent or limit the difficulties seen later.”
I have seen hundreds of children during my years as mother, grandmother and thirty years as a teacher. As I turned the pages of this book, there were so many points in the book I totally agree with and that I could relate to. Here are some:
- Being patient as a parent is pivotal.
- When looking at the contribution to overall motor development, crawling is pivotal. (Crawling trumps walking)
- While I cooked, my children… learned valuable lessons in size and weight, developed bilateral motor coordination, and increased the strength of their fingers.
- Successful play leads to a sense of competence and autonomy.
- Swinging develops isolated movement, sequencing, and a sense of rhythm while providing sensory input that is organizing to your child.
- Riding a bike is like toilet training. You, as a parent, cannot control the process.
- Besides the fun, swimming provides a sense of accomplishment of extreme proportions.
- Our achievement-oriented culture has created a myth that a child must start early and play often, if success is to be achieved in a sport.
- About choosing a sport for growing child, it should lead to many hours of joy as your child develops new motor skills and learns to become a team player or performer.
- Free time provides opportunities that structured, adult-driven play will never provide.
- Time to wander aimlessly and engage in whatever imaginary activity pops into the head at any given time …priceless!
I enjoyed reading about Michael Phelps, the American swimming sensation who dazzled the world at the Beijing Olympics winning eight gold medals. Jill uses Phelps as the example of the complete “gifted athlete”. He had the best biological and environmental conditions. We learn that Michael overcame attention-deficit disorder and used his perfect physique, the right physiology, and his personality to rise to international stardom.
Features of the Book
From the moment you hold Your Child’s Motor Development Story, you are impressed with its high gloss, quality paper for the cover and each page. Flip the pages and the color coded chapters, tables, photo captions, and charts stand out. Over eighty bold color photographs of children highlight and bring added clarity to many topics. Each long photo caption supports and adds valuable tips. Throughout the book, the author has used well organized tables for summarizing content. Every few pages, as each topic ends, you find Recommended Activities in bullet form.
Jill Howlett Mays has made this book so user friendly that after reading it once it becomes a resource book busy parents can easily refer to…. The Dr. Spock book of the 21st century on motor development!
More about the author: See Interview with Julie Howlett Mays
Jill Howlett Mays, MS, OTR/L: After receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Jill completed a master’s degree in counseling and human relations. She did her advanced graduate work, including a teaching fellowship, at New York University. This is Jill’s first book but she has written numerous articles regarding special education in newspapers. She continues to write about motor development on her web site and blog.
Buy Your Child’s Motor Development Story from Future Horizons and get 15% off PLUS free delivery in continental USA! Add the coupon code KIDCOMPANIONS when you checkout of the store for discounts!