Spatial awareness involves the perception of one’s body in relation to the surrounding space and objects, as well as the ability to judge distances, sizes, and spatial relationships accurately. It is essential for participation in activities of daily living such as dressing, grooming, and play!
Whether it be avoiding obstacles when walking through school, transitioning from the floor to the couch, reaching out to pick up a toy, or determining left from right, these are all spatial awareness examples in daily activities.
Children with poor spatial awareness may appear to be clumsy or often bump into things. They may stand too close to others in line or have difficulty remaining in their personal space bubble. They may accidentally break toys frequently or rough house too hard with peers not understanding how their body can affect others. Additionally, children who lack spatial awareness may have difficulties with writing such as not using the proper pressure on the paper, difficulty staying in the lines, or poor legibility. It is highly linked to the sensory system, in particular the proprioception and visual systems, so it is common to see in children with sensory processing difficulties.
Below are some ideas of activities that you can do at home to help your child improve their spatial awareness.
It’s no secret that occupational therapists at NAPA Centre just LOVE obstacle courses! Much like the ability to maneuver through our environment, maneuvering through an obstacle course requires a lot of spatial awareness skills. You could use the stairs/steps of your house to complete different sequential steps like crawling, climbing, jumping, etc.
Simple crafts are a great way to combine visual perception and spatial skills! Crafts aid children in coloring inside lines, cutting along boundaries, and gluing items together, all foundational skills for spatial awareness.
Let’s play a fun game of “Simon Says” with your child! Encourage them to mimic both big and small body movements, such as jumping, lunging, or walking on tiptoes while putting their hands on their hips. This game helps teach your child about appropriate spacing between participants. Have fun!
Constructing objects, building with toys like Jenga or Legos, and playing with cause-and-effect toys can help children develop spatial awareness and object-positioning skills.
Puzzles like shape puzzles, pegboards, and jigsaws are great for building spatial awareness in children. Start with simple puzzles and progress to more complex ones as your child’s skills improve.
Baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer…when it comes to sports, you name it, it can improve your child’s spatial awareness capabilities. Learning how much force to apply when hitting a baseball, or making the volleyball go over the net are all skills that help a child learn and understand the spacing of objects.
Not only is yoga a great way to build spatial awareness, but it also acts as a sensory activity for children with sensory processing disorders. Bonus: Yoga also helps children focus on breathing and mindfulness!
Having your child complete a maze worksheet is a great way to practice building your child’s spatial awareness skills. This promotes the ability to coordinate hand movements with visual cues and develop a better understanding of spatial relationships.
Playing games like Connect Four and chess can help improve your child’s understanding of spatial relationships. Board games are also an excellent tool for promoting social skills and critical thinking.
Games like “Red Light, Green Light” help children learn to use their bodies in different ways and improve their coordination and balance.
Aisling Smith is a paediatric occupational therapist at NAPA Center in Austin, Texas. When she’s not playing hard at work to help her patients achieve their goals, she can be found exploring the outdoors through hikes or climbing as well as exploring all the food options Austin has to offer!
At NAPA Centre, we believe in creating individualised programs that address every child’s specific needs across a range of different therapies. Every child is unique, which means implementing unique therapy programs is the only way to help them truly reach their full potential. Contact us today to discover how NAPA can help your child or loved one.