Most children benefit from proprioceptive sensory work built into their day. The proprioceptive system receptors are located in our joints and muscles and tell us about where our body is in space. The benefits of stimulating this system vary for different children but can help children feel regulated, calm, and ready to focus. Unlike the vestibular system , the proprioceptive system cannot be overloaded. The benefits of heavy work last for up to two hours after engaging. Try to build planned activities into your day to support your student or child’s participation all day long.

 

1. Play:

 

Play is a creative and natural method of learning and exploring the world. Encourage running and jumping as part of play, draw a hopscotch game in chalk or offer a jump rope. Indoor and outdoor trampolines provide lots of sensory input to the lower body. If you have monkey bars nearby, try to test how long you can hang on. Create an obstacle course including several of these activities to make a memorable play experience.

 

2. Animal walks:

 

Common in occupational and physical therapy and physical education classes, animal walks are fun and motivating and great for sensory input and motor planning. Try crab walks, bear walks, snake crawls, dinosaur marches and wheelbarrow walks. Get creative and make up a new animal walk!

 

3. Clean up a space:

 

This is a functional life skill that children can practice at any age. Some cleaning activities like vacuuming or sweeping provide proprioceptive input. Younger and older kids can use a towel and wide sweeping motion to wipe down tables or spills. For even heavier input, delegate the task of pushing in chairs or pushing light furniture into place to kiddos.

 

4. Carry:

 

Carrying heavy items can be a purposeful activity where children get a chance to help out. Try letting them bring in groceries, carry books to another room, move their chair by themselves or wear a slightly weighted backpack.

 

5. Get outside:

 

For children of all ages, the outdoors provides lots of opportunities for proprioceptive input. Go on a nature walk. The more challenging the climb, the more proprioceptive input they will get. Using a small shovel to move snow or dig dirt is another way children can help out.

 

6. Snack time:

 

Do you know anyone that chews on a pen or pencil? The jaw has several proprioceptors, and by chewing on something hard, people get lots of regulating input. A more functional strategy would be to eat something crunchy or chewy. Carrots, celery, nuts, and granola work well and can easily work into your usual snack time. Older kids (and adults) can get the same benefit by eating crunchy foods or chewing on gum.

 

7. Use a weighted ball:

 

Try a soft weighted ball for a quick and easy way to get input. Starting at two pounds and increasing to higher weights, weighted balls are versatile and easy to have nearby. Try throwing and catching the ball, rolling it back and forth to each other, or slamming it onto the ground.

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