Proprioception is an awareness of where our bodies are positioned. It’s an important motor development skill everyone needs to learn, especially children. How can we tell kids to sit still at a desk when they can’t “feel” where their bodies are located?
“Physical movements involved in everyday tasks help children develop a sense of where their bodies are in space, a capacity related to learning to read.”–Teaching Children to Write, Read and Spell by Susan R. Johnson, MD, FAAP.
The current trend of pushing academics in preschool and kindergarten is harmful. For some, their neurological pathways are not developed which is why we are going to continuously see greater increases in the number of children, particularly boys, diagnosed with attention problems.
“The proprioceptive system is strengthened by physical movements, like sweeping with a broom, pushing a wheelbarrow, carrying groceries, emptying the trash, pulling weeds or hanging from the monkey bars. When a child does such activities, he stimulates nerve endings within his muscles, tendons, and joints that are sensitive to pressure, thereby allowing his brain to make a map of these various pressure receptors in the body. In this way, the brain becomes connected to the various parts of the physical body. The child now develops a sense of where his body is in space-proprioception-and even if he closes his eyes, he will be able to feel or sense the location of muscles, joints and tendons within torso, arms, legs, hands and feet forward, backward, up down, left and right, he will start to gain a sense of the spaces around himself.”–Teaching Children to Write, Read and Spell by Susan R. Johnson, MD, FAAP.
We need physical therapists and/or well trained physical education teachers to come into the school system and help connect the children to their bodies so they can feel the innate love of learning. Some great exercises children four-seven years of age to help or improve their readiness to read and write is to cross lateral skip, jump rope forward and backward and stand on one foot with eyes closed. Parents you can help increase your child’s proprioception by tracing letters on their back and they have to guess which one!
Imagine that you can promote social and emotional development with running, jumping, hopping, skipping, singing, playing catch, walking a balance beam, painting, coloring and playing hand-clapping games. Connect your children to what’s fun by using their body! We want to see our children thriving and enjoying life.
Important cross lateral movements such as swimming, hiking, walking with arms swinging and playing tennis strengthen the neurological pathways by integrating the right and left hemispheres of the brain. It’s true mind-body connection!!
As a physical therapist, I am so passionate about prevention. After working with chronic pain for over a decade, we’ve got to swing the pendulum the other way. We need to recognize and correct the faulty patterns so they don’t become destructive. Let’s give kids tools to stay on top. It’s crucial for this mindset to enter the school system to help better prepare our children to read, write, spell, do math and creatively think for a successful life!
If your child needs help connecting, please visit our website and schedule an appointment with Gina.