5 Great Motor Games for Kids with Dyspraxia and Poor Coordination
Motor planning refers to the ability of the body to do what the brain is telling it to do. So, if I’m trying to knit a blanket, my brain will tell my fingers to move the yarn and the needles in a certain way so that I end up with a blanket instead of a hat at the end of the day. When dyspraxia comes into play, it’s not that my brain doesn’t tell my body to knit a blanket, it’s that it doesn’t understand how to do it. This makes movement appear clumsy, haphazard, and sloppy.
As we chatted about in the past post on this topic, dyspraxia is best managed by limiting multi-step activities, maintaining consistency, and incorporating heavy work. But, life isn’t always about simply getting through the day as easily as possible.
There are times when we want to grow and improve. When specifically trying to challenge your child’s motor skills, it’s best to focus on motor planning abilities.
Depending on your child’s degree of dyspraxia and motor issues, these are games that your child will struggle with. These are games that will challenge your child’s motor planning abilities and make their brains work hard at controlling and coordinating movements.
Go slowly with these games and, while encouraging participation, follow your child’s lead and be prepared to move on to something else when necessary. Know that your child may get frustrated easily and want to give up.
1) Create a Spy Hallway
Autumn from “It’s Always Autumn” came up with an amazing idea to turn your hallway into a motor coordination spy game.
What I love about this is that it’s extremely motor skills based, but is also super fun.
Your child won’t even realize they’re using their motor skills! What’s even better is to have your child help you put up and take down the streamers for some additional motor benefit.
2) Balance Board Fishing
Who doesn’t love fishing? Have your child stand on a balance board and catch fish. Not only does this work on core strength, it forces your child to adapt to movement and learn about cause and effect. How do I need to readjust my arm if my body just moved in a different direction? If I move my leg, how does that change what my arm is doing?
This activity is tricky, even for the most coordinated of us. Have your child start by using the balance board and the fishing game separately. Once they’ve become comfortable with each element, slowly put them together into one activity.
If you want something more challenging than standing on solid ground, but aren’t ready for a balance board, the stepping stones pictured below can be a happy medium.
3) Yoga and Simon Says
Aside from being a great stress relief after a long day, yoga can actually be a great activity for your kids as well. Not only does it help kids understand where their bodies are in space, it also requires them to understand verbal and visual cues and translate them into movement.
Simon Says is a fantastic game for this reason as well.
Keep in mind that this translation is exactly what kids with dyspraxia struggle with. The first couple of times, don’t expect yoga to be the relaxing activity you’re used to. There’s no doubt that this will be hard for your kiddos. But, disguise it as fun and practice it enough and you will start to see motor improvements.
It’s time to travel back into our childhoods and remember the joys of getting all tangled up in games of Twister. Like yoga, Twister requires translation of verbal cues into body movements. It also lets your child practice their balance skills.
There’s no doubt this will be frustrating at first. Raise your hand if it still is for you now! Be sure to make it fun by playing your child’s favorite music, taking frequent breaks, and down playing the competitive side of it.
5) Free Dancing
Turn up the music and just let your kiddo move! When thinking about the best games for kids with dyspraxia, we often forget that the body instinctively craves understanding of the world and how to move in it. If your child is getting frustrated by successfully completing any of the tasks above, have them let loose and give their bodies permission to go wild.
While structured play and activity can be crucial for skill development, sometimes our kids just need a break. Dancing is a great way to let your kiddo express themself and let their movements just come naturally.
If you want something with a bit more structure, try a game of freeze dance. This game lets your child dance freely, while also understanding how to come to a stop when asked.