Body awareness starts as early as four to six months old in infants, but it is important for parents to continuously help children become more aware of their body as they grow. It is a crucial component of movement development, helping children learn how to move their body in different physical situations. Help your child develop better body awareness with activities that emphasize identifying body parts and how they work.
Sing classic children's songs with your child that focus on body parts, such as "Head, shoulders, knees and toes." Make sure that she touches all the parts of the body in the song. Other songs include "The Hokey Pokey," where she has to move and shake specific body parts, and "If You're Happy and You Know It," the classic clapping, stopping and head nodding song young children love.
Have your child and her friends race to put body parts in the right place. Draw an outline of a child on kraft paper, cut it out, then cut the paper into separate parts for the arms, legs, torso and head. Put just the face on the wall, and have the kids see how fast they can put the body together in the right places. Make sure that they name the body parts as they work to put the body together. For another game, have relay races where the kids are placed into pairs. The kids must race from one area to another while certain body parts are touching the whole time, such as hands, elbows or heads. Any team disconnected before reaching the end will have to start over. Make it even more challenging by making the kids switch to a different body part halfway through.
Art projects can help your child become aware of the many things she can do with her hands. Choose activities that really get her hands, and perhaps even her feet involved. Make clay hand and footprints by letting your child press them into molding clay. Once completely dry, let her paint the molds. Let her get messy by finger painting on a table covered with plastic sheeting. For another art project, give your child a hand held mirror to study her face and art supplies. Encourage her to make a self-portrait, getting as creative and abstract as she would like.
Read age-appropriate books with your child that focus on parts of the body. For toddlers, check out the board books "My First Body Board Book," from DK Publishing and "Where is Baby's Belly?" by Karen Katz. Both books offer simple words and pictures of babies and toddlers identifying body parts. For kids ages 3 and up, "Me and My Amazing Body," by Joan Sweeney provides a slightly more detailed look at parts of the body, including skin and muscle.
- Skills For Kids: What is Body Awareness
- My First Body Board Book; DK Publishing
- Where is Baby's Belly?; Karen Katz
- Me and My Amazing Body; Joan Sweeney
- James Woodson/Photodisc/Getty Images