Often considered the sixth sense, proprioception is essential for body awareness and movement. The sensory receptors are in the muscles and joints. These receptors send messages to the brain about body positioning and the direction and strength needed for a particular movement. For example, how to precisely stack blocks without knocking them over or pouring water from one cup to another.


Development of the proprioceptive system began when your child was still in the womb. Early activities like skin-to-skin contact, tummy time, shifting weight all help babies understand where their body is and how it moves. As children develop and participate in increasingly complex activities, feedback from their proprioceptive system is essential to their success.


While all children benefit from heavy work, your child may especially make gains from activities that provide proprioceptive input if he or she:


-Is constantly on the move: Jumping, bumping, and crashing.

-Frequently knocks over construction projects such as blocks or magnetic tiles.

-Constantly seeks out bear hugs or is too rough with friends.

-Rips paper or breaks writing tools when writing or coloring from using too much force.

-Bumps into peers or furniture regularly.


Activities to try:


Obstacle courses- Climb, crawl, hop, march. Use equipment or furniture that you already have. Place a puzzle piece at the beginning, and each time your child goes through, they will collect pieces to put together at the finish.


Hopscotch- As a bonus, this is an outstanding balance and motor planning activity. If your child is old enough, let them sketch out the board. Using chalk on the rough surface tar will also provide proprioceptive feedback.


Pull, push, or carry- Let your child pull a sibling in a wagon, push furniture, or bring a stack of books from one room to the next.


Complete chores- A great way to get consistent proprioceptive input is to build it into a routine. Designate a task for your child that involves heavy work. It could be pushing the chairs in after each meal, vacuuming, or wiping down the table. Let your child be in charge of bringing in groceries from the car or moving the laundry basket.


Try a sport- Many sports are great for getting heavy sensory input. Swimming, soccer, football, track, basketball, and gymnastics are sports children who seek proprioceptive input tend to seek out.


Chew- There are many joints and ligaments (and therefore sensory receptors) in the upper and lower jaw. Have your child eat something crunchy or try a ‘chewy’ for stimulating oral motor input that doubles as regulating.


Animal walks- Try bear walks, frog jumps, crab walks, donkey kicks, and crawling. Let your child make up new animal walks to practice forming a new motor plan while getting the proprioceptive work in.


Squishes- Get comfy laying on your belly under a weighted blanket, couch cushion or provide pressure with an exercise ball. Let your child determine the amount of pressure they want and let them read or color while they relax.

Any questions? Give us a call!


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