By: C.Q. Wilder, M.Ed
August 19, 2014
Right foot. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. That is how we walk. However, young children, especially between the ages of 3-6, walk a different way. Many of them will move one leg/foot down one step and then meet the other leg/foot to meet the alternative leg/foot. This is the process all the way down the stairs.
Developmentally, children who just begin to walk will not be able to master the alternating feet down the stairs. However, if your child is starting school as a preschooler or pre-k student, begin to teach them how to alternate their feet. You can also help them by moving their leg/foot while they walk down the stairs while you are modeling how to do so beside them.
When your child is walking down the stairs, encourage them to switch their feet. I like to sing a song every time I am teaching a child anything. So, to help your child, you can sing a very easy song! “Right foot, left foot. Right foot, left foot. Right foot, left foot!” Just that easy!
I have seen middle schoolers walk down the stairs without alternating their feet and I think to myself, who didn’t show them how to alternate their feet? Even though many articles tell others to not push the child to alternate their feet, as a former preschool and pre-k teacher, that is the first thing I would teach the children. It’s a safety concern plus it will indirectly push them to do other things. If they can master alternating their feet, then they can master playing with others, and master learning their letters, and the list goes on.
So don’t forget to switch those feet! It will only support your child’s development in a positive way!