Did you know that we have 7 senses!?! You must be thinking, no way, we have 5! Vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. These are the 5 senses we were all taught growing up. However, we actually have 2 additional senses, sometimes called our hidden senses, vestibular and proprioception.
These two sensory systems are crucial to support the foundation of an optimal sensory system necessary for learning to occur. When a kiddo is experiencing difficulties processing vestibular and proprioceptive input, this can impact academic learning.
Vestibular Processing is registered by the inner ear to tell the body where it is in space and where the body and head are in relation to the environmental stimuli.
Proprioceptive input is providing messages to your joints and muscles as to where your body is in space (body awareness).
There is so much research that supports kids are NOT spending enough time outside, exploring uneven surfaces and a variety of textures which challenges the vestibular and proprioceptive systems. This is now leading to decreased attention, maladaptive (unwanted behaviors such as biting, kicking, hitting, throwing body on the floor, etc) behaviors, and decreased self-regulation (the ability to calm and organize) at home and at school. This makes learning new skills and retaining the information a challenge.
Playing outside and exploring a variety of textures and uneven surfaces helps to smoothly integrate the different sensory systems to help interpret and perceive the world around us and how to manipulate our bodies through space.
Always with stand by support from an adult, let your child push their limits (always in a safe and supervised environment). Let them figure out where their bodies are in space and how they need to move their body in relation to their environment.
Here are just some of the skills that are being worked on through fun outdoor activities: attention, gross motor strengthening, motor planning, tactile exploration, self-regulation, body awareness, executive functioning, and so much more!
Motto of the story! Play outside kids! Get messy! Explore everything! Engaging in outdoor play helps promote overall motor development and optimal emotional regularity which is correlated to higher rates of success with academic achievement and other life goals . Now, go explore!