Occupational Therapy Newsletter
Dear Parents and Guardians,
We have had a great start to the school year so far and the children have transitioned nicely into their new big kid kindergarten rolls! We have been doing some fun activities to build our body awareness and left and right discrimination skills. Remember to incorporate left and right vocabulary at home to help with this skill. You could also play the game Left, Right, Center at home for some family fun time, that is also educational!
So here is some great information I found on www.yourtherapysource.com that explains body awareness, why it is so important in our daily lives and what you can do with your child to help promote these skills:
Body awareness is the ability to recognize where your body is in space. Your muscles and joints send your brain information about your body and how it moves. You may wonder why is body awareness important?
Body awareness helps us to understand how to relate to objects and people at home, at school and outdoors. For example, proper body awareness tells us how far to reach for objects or how close to stand next to a person.
Sometimes, if people have difficulties with body awareness they may appear clumsy, uncoordinated or have delays in motor skill development.
Body awareness is important to teach throughout childhood development because research indicates that the multisensory foundations of the bodily self develop throughout early and mid-childhood, reaching an adult state by 10 to 11 years.
Body Awareness and Spatial Awareness
Spatial awareness is the ability to understand and interact with the environment around you. Whether it be avoiding obstacles when walking, reaching out to grab a pencil or determining left from right these are all examples of tasks that require spatial awareness. Developing the skills to express and understand spatial skills are the first step in understanding spatial ability and awareness such as math skills, visual perceptual skills, and body awareness.
Research indicates that visual-spatial abilities contribute to a larger extent to children’s verbal number skills than verbal abilities which is important for the conception of early mathematics assessments and interventions. In addition, the role of spatial skills, notably spatial orientation, were important for mathematical development.
Visual spatial skills have also been shown to be related to motor coordination and handwriting skills.
How can you help your child develop body awareness?
There are many ways you can help your child develop body awareness. Start out by reviewing and identifying body parts. Begin with very simple commands such as kick your leg, wave your hand or shake your head. Then progress to motor commands such as “touch your elbow”. Then progress to more difficult commands such as “touch your right knee”.
You can make the skills even more difficult by practicing touching different body parts to different body parts ie touch your left hand to your right ear, put your right elbow on your left thumb, etc.
Activity Ideas for Body Awareness
Trying playing games that reinforce body awareness such as Simon Says or Follow the Leader.
Practice drawing pictures of people or ask the child to draw a picture of himself or herself. Name body parts as they are drawn.
Set up obstacle courses for the child to go over, under, around and in between objects.
Complete heavy work activities such as pushing, pulling or carrying heavy objects. This will help to reinforce where the joints and muscles are in space.
Sometimes a child may benefit from changes to the environment in order to help with body awareness. Try putting an ‘X’ on the floor where you want the child to sit. Perhaps a chair with arms on it will help to provide an external cue of where the body needs to stay seated. The child may do better walking at the front or back of a line instead of in the middle of the line. To prevent the child from slipping out of the chair or from knocking objects over put non-skid materials (ie rug gripper) on the seat or desktop.
As always, thanks for all you do at home to help
your child be a successful student!
The Occupational Therapy Team