We all know that human beings are much more than a group of individual traits, and even more than the sum of their parts. An activity that increases proprioceptive processing will likely benefit other areas such as vestibular (balance) processing, touch, sight, etc.
Proprioception is information from muscles and joints as to body position in space. It lets us know if we are sitting, standing, kneeling. It works with the tactile (touch) sense to give us a sense of how close we are to other people, furniture, walls, etc.
Activities involving large muscle groups are great ways to increase proprioceptive sensory processing. Here are some favorites:
- Climbing on playground structures.
- Playing tag. There are many variations on this game, some good ones are “line tag” where everyone holds hands or links arms and the person on one end has to tag the person at the end of the line; “freeze tag” where a person has to freeze in place for a certain amount of time after they are touched, then they become “it”; and “silly tag” where everyone has to tag everyone else and they are all “it” at the same time, once you are touched you have to sit or lay on the ground and the last person standing wins.
- Make an obstacle course. Almost anything can be used: pop-up tunnels or fabric tunnels*, blankets over chairs or other furniture, small trampolines, have your child see what is in the environment, either indoors or outdoors, and use their imagination. They will know what to do!
- Animal walks. Ask your child to show you how an elephant, a tiger, a donkey, a frog, etc. moves, they’ll be able to show you.
- Play “crab soccer”, on hands and knees, face up.
- Kick a ball back and forth.
- Wheelbarrow walks.
- Roll forward on a large ball. Make sure you’re close by to prevent falls.
- Sit and bounce on a large ball. Again, make sure you’re nearby.
- Jump on a trampoline.
- Jump from one space to another, i.e. hopscotch, from one large rock to the next, etc.
As you can see, these activities can easily be incorporated into daily life. In fact, when children are left to their own devices, they often choose these activities on their own.
*Fabric tunnels are simply knit jersey that is knit in a tube form, as opposed to flat. The advantage of having it knit in a tube is that it does not need to be sewn, since many children like to pick apart the seam if it is sewn.