An obstacle course allows for sensory motor learning while targeting many skills, and the possibilities are endless!  Obstacle courses allow for praxis training leading to social emotional skill development and communication skills. Praxis is the ability to efficiently plan and execute novel motor tasks.

Praxis includes ideation (coming up with the idea), initiation (beginning the task), execution of the task (motor performance), and adaptation. These skills create the foundation for independence and elaboration in play, self-care skills and motor activities.

Obstacle courses target multiple sensory systems at once which is the foundation for skill development:

 

  • Proprioception (nerve receptors in muscles and joints)– bouncing, jumping, pulling, pushing, lifting, climbing, crawling, tunnels

 

  • Vestibular (nerve receptors in inner ear)– movement in all directions up, down, dynamic swings

 

  • Tactile- Varied materials in contact with the body (e.g. spandex/lycra, carpet, rice/bean sensory bins, shaving cream)

By targeting each of these sensory systems, this allows a child to reach optimal level of arousal and self-regulation. Through various activities within the path/sequence, this can be calming or alerting to your child.

Always have a clear start and end to your path, or make it a continuous loop. For increased predictability add in a puzzle or other fine motor task to signal completion of the course.

Obstacle courses are a great way to target the following skills:

Gross motor:

  • Balance
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Motor planning
  • Postural control and righting reflexes
  • Core strength
  • Timing and sequencing
  • Praxis

Safety Awareness:

  • Body awareness
  • Following rules
  • Impulse control

Cognition:

  • Working memory
  • Sequencing
  • Problem solving
  • Flexibility

Social/Emotional:

  • Turn taking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration to problem solve
  • Play skills
  • Sense of accomplishment

Visual Motor:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Ocular motor skills
  • Visual spatial awareness

 

They can be completed indoors or outdoors with simple household items or chalk on the sidewalk. Jump over, crawl under, spin around, follow chalk or tape path, climb through tunnels, use pillows or cushions, chairs, blankets and more! Involve your child in the process and make it fun!

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