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Proprioception: Tools for Motor Planning, Proprioception and Hand-eye Coordination
This post contains information about proprioception, motor planning and hand-eye coordination. Affiliate links are included for your convenience. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
If you have ever watched your child throw a ball or kick a ball to their teammate, as they grow older and develop their muscles and joints, you start to notice improvements in their athletic ability. When they outgrow that toddler stage, you can see how much they improve in sports as they become more accurate in throwing and kicking and can usually determine how much strength it takes to get the ball to their teammate to help them score a goal.
If you have ever played baseball with your child and they throw it too hard so it goes way over your head, or maybe there was a sucker punch to your gut with the baseball as they threw it to you, it is a sign that they don’t realize just how hard or how soft to throw the ball to make it directly into your mitt. This is what we call proprioception. It’s often referred to as a “sixth sense” because it has to do with how we sense objects around us along with how we interpret messages with our muscles, joints, and motor planning skills.
Many of the students we see tend to struggle with proprioception because their brains and bodies aren’t receiving the messages they need to complete certain tasks and daily functions. They often have difficulty with balance, coordination, low muscle tone, are clumsy, uncoordinated and usually have poor motor skills.
If a child’s motor planning is off or if they have trouble with proprioception, we sometimes start to notice issues with learning in the classroom. Developing those motor skills are important because their brain knows what to do, but they can’t figure out how to make their body do it. Simple activities like tracking words on a page, copying notes from the chalkboard, following instructions give by the teacher, as well as their handwriting and pencil grip can all be affected if they have poor motor planning or a proprioception deficiency.
The Joey Jump Stepper for Proprioception
To help our students improve their proprioception, motor planning skills and hand-eye coordination, we use a number of activities to improve the connections with their hands, feet and eyes. The Joey Jump Stepper is just one of the activities we use on a daily basis to strengthen their motor planning skills. You’d be surprised at how this simple activity can be quite difficult for some kids. The Joey Jump Stepper is an important tool because it works the hands, eyes and feet all at the same time and it is all about timing. Your child or student has to be ready with their hands and eyes to catch the beanbag as it flies into the air.
Not only do they have to maintain balance with their foot (vestibular), they have to stand in a ready position (motor planning) so they can track the beanbag with their eyes (hand-eye coordination) and use enough force to get the beanbag from the floor into their hands (proprioception). Because this one activity helps with so many different areas of the brain all at once, it improves the neural connections between their body and how they learn in the classroom.
How it works
When you have your Joey Jump Stepper, place it on the floor in front of your child or student. Place one beanbag at the end of the stepper and then have your student push the stepper with their foot with enough strength for them to catch the beanbag in their hands.
If your child or student struggles with this activity, they may need to start with only their foot first. You may also notice that they don’t watch where the beanbag goes, which is why they may have a proprioception deficiency. The goal is to eventually help them work their feet, hands and eyes all at the same time. This will improve their motor planning skills and as they track the beanbag, it will strengthen their eye muscles for reading words on a page or copying notes from the chalkboard.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs