Rabbit Pose: The Fun way to Progress Writing Skills
Rabbit pose can be challenging, especially for younger children. Encourage your child to try this activity along with you, but if they are not enjoying it, please don’t insist. They may not be quite ready yet. Try the less challenging rabbit pose (see further down) instead.
Before you start
Find a clear space on the carpet or a mat. Make sure you both have a clear space around you so you are not likely to bump your heads! When young children does this pose they may look down at their feet and hands instead of straight ahead.
Take off your shoes and socks to prevent slips and to help your child feel the mat with their feet and hands accurately.
Always seek advice if you are unsure about whether Rabbit pose is suitable for yourself.
How to do rabbit pose
Squat down on the mat or carpet with your child. Show them how they can balance on their feet with their hands down in front of them – so they can use their hands to balance as well.
Guide your child to reach forward with their hands first, keeping their feet still.
With your hands out in front, slowly bring your weight forwards so that you’re taking more weight through your shoulders, arms and hands. Encourage your child to copy.
Now it’s time to move your feet! With your weight on your hands, hop both your feet towards your hands, like a bouncing bunny.
Repeat your rabbit yoga pose, lolloping forward a few times so your child has a chance to refine their hops.
On their first attempts your child may tend to land on their knees as they hop, instead of their feet. If this is the case show your child the pose again – this time emphasising how a bunny lands on his back paws!
A variation of rabbit pose
Try jumping over a river or grass. Your child will probably find rabbit pose easier to do if they have something to look at and jump over.
Whilst you are both squatting down, place a narrow scarf, streamer or piece of ribbon on the floor in front of you both.
Show your child how they can place their hands over the streamer first and then hop their feet over it!
The benefits of rabbit pose
How rabbit pose helps to support writing skills
Progressing writing skills doesn’t always mean doing more writing! In fact paediatric occupational and physiotherapists will often suggest whole body activities (just like rabbit pose) to help a child refine their hand skills. Here are 3 ways in which rabbit pose can help support writing skills:
1. Gaining strength to support writing
To sit correctly, your child needs to have active tummy muscles, otherwise they may tend to slump forwards.
If your child’s shoulder muscles are active and strong, they will use these muscles to support the weight of their arm, freeing their delicate hand muscles for writing. If shoulder muscles are inactive or weak your child may try to support their whole arm with their hand muscles and this can lead to a very tight pencil grip and hand ache.
2. Refining sensory organisation skills
As they do rabbit pose variation (jumping over a scarf or ribbon), your child will be organising huge amounts of different sensory information in their brain e.g. information from their visual, touch and movement (proprioceptive and vestibular) senses. This sequence of:
taking in sensations > processing sensations in the brain >in order to do a specific activity
is powerful way of practising and developing sensory organisation! When a child is learning to write, good sensory organisation skills will help them to focus on relevant sensory information e.g. their pencil grip and hand movements and to ‘filter out’ irrelevant sensory information e.g. a sound outside, a picture hanging on the wall, or the feel of their clothing.
3. Stretching & developing hand muscles
As your child takes weight through their hands they will be activating and gently stretching out their hand muscles, preparing them for writing and drawing activities.
A more challenging rabbit pose
Want to make Rabbit pose harder? See if you and your child can do rabbit pose backwards!
Squat down on the floor as before. This time place your hands close to your feet between your legs. Once again tip forwards so your nose is in front of your knees and you are balancing more on your arms, but now hop both your feet backwards. Move your whole body backwards onto your feet, so you’re squatting again and repeat the action to keep hopping backwards.
A less challenging rabbit pose
Rabbit pose can be difficult as the movement sequence requires mature co-ordination skills.
If your child is younger, or is struggling with rabbit pose, encourage them to either:
Bend and straighten their knees whilst they are standing – the start of jumping or
To play in the ‘squat’ position – reaching down for toys on the floor and then putting them in little containers. Most young children can squat in a perfect position!
A Rabbit Poem for A Spring Weekend
Our resident paediatric physiotherapist, Sue Heron, loved this poem as a child.
Remember to twitch your nose as you say it and get your rabbits and bunnies in the right order!
Rabbit Poem by Georgia Roberts Durston
There once was a rabbit, who developed the habit, of twitching the end of his nose,
His brothers and sisters, and various others, said “Look at the way he goes!”
Now one clever bunny, said “That’s very funny, I’ll practice it down in the dell”
The rest said “If he can, we’re positive we can” – and they did it remarkably well.
Now all the world over, where rabbits eat clover and scribble and scratch with their toes,
There’s isn’t a rabbit, who hasn’t the habit, of twitching the end of his nose!
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