Are you wondering how to increase body awareness in your children? In this video series, NAPA PT Cait Parr shares some of her favorite body awareness activities that are used in physical and occupational therapy sessions at NAPA. You can try these activities to promote body awareness with your kids at home. We hope you find the videos helpful. If you prefer text, we have the videos transcribed for you below. Have fun!
I’m going to talk about some body awareness exercises that you can try at home with your kids.
The first one is involving proprioception. This helps the body to be calm and organized; we use heavy work to activate the proprioceptive system, such as pulling or pushing a weighted laundry basket.
You can have your child on their knees or standing, pushing a heavy basket around the house.
Pro tip: Encourage your children to have races to make it fun!
Our second activity to improve body awareness in your children is games like Simon Says or Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. These are going to work on body parts, coordination to find or touch those body parts, and auditory attention to listen to the directions and follow them.
For example, you can play Simon Says as basic or as advanced as your child can handle.
You can also change up the verses of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” to incorporate different body parts. For instance, “if you’re happy and you know it touch your head.” This will allow your child to reach and coordinate those movements.
Our last activity that we’re going to talk about to improve body awareness in your children is a little more general. It can be anything involving a ball or balance skills. For example, we can use a small ball (as shown in video) to practice balancing on different sides of the body. For this activity, the parent or instructor might say “left, right, left, right” and the child will balance the ball on the corresponding side of the body or with the corresponding hand. You can also use the ball to incorporate single leg balance, to help your child understand where his/her body is in space in comparison to the ball to be able to keep his/her balance on the ball. You can also use things like balance beams, or even the curb of a sidewalk to use as a balance beam and work on body awareness.
Our favorite body awareness exercises for kids include:
These body awareness activities may benefit children with autism among other diagnoses. Of course, we encourage you to be safe in practicing these exercises and we hope they bring positive child development gains to your kiddos!
Cait Parr is a pediatric physical therapist at NAPA Center. Her favorite animal is snails, because they remind her to slow down and enjoy the beautiful details about life.