What is body awareness and why is it important? This lesson will define body awareness as well as offer explanations to consider regarding body awareness.
What Is Body Awareness?
Close your eyes and touch your nose. Keep your eyes closed and touch your left shoulder. Now stand on one foot. Have you ever considered how it is that we can do these types of things without looking? It is because of body awareness.
Body awareness is the sense that we have of our own bodies. It is an understanding of the parts that make up one's body, where they are located, how they feel, and even what they can do. Body awareness develops as we grow and mature. Now that we know what body awareness is, let's take a closer look to see why it is important in physical education.
How Does Body Awareness Develop?
Think about the movement of newborn babies. Newborns usually are not in control of their movement because it is largely reflexive at birth. They do not have body awareness. As babies grow into toddlers, movement becomes more controlled and intentional as a result of fine and gross motor development.
Gross motor development occurs when the large muscle groups like arms and legs get stronger. Fine motor development refers to the growth of the smaller muscle groups, like fingers. Fine and gross motor development are important in body awareness.
Balance is also important. We would not expect a one-year-old to be able to balance on a beam, yet a twelve-year-old would probably be fairly good at it. Balancing on a beam requires body awareness. It takes time, growth, and practice for body awareness to fully emerge. For example, we expect to see certain milestones for development as kids grow and mature. Most children can run by age four. The ability to throw takes a bit more time. Skipping is usually possible at about age six. The ability to hop should emerge between the ages of seven and eight, while jumping might not occur until age ten. These skills advance as body awareness advances.
Now that we understand how body awareness emerges as we mature, let's look at some different levels of body awareness.
Levels of Body Awareness
An important first step in body awareness is knowing what the body parts are and where they are located. Think of the game Hokey Pokey, for example. Players are asked to put their right arm in and their right arm out, their left foot in and out, etc. Games like this help elementary school-aged children learn the body parts, their locations, and how they work. This demonstrates early body awareness.
Now think of the game Twister. This requires not only body awareness, but the ability to reach, stretch, balance, and hold a position for an extended period of time. This represents more advanced body awareness. We would expect to see this emerge around middle childhood.
Now think of track and field. Track and field events include things like sprinting, the long jump, pole vaulting, and the discus throw. Adolescents and young adults will be much better at these types of events than younger people because they have developed advanced body awareness. They've developed an intimate knowledge of how their bodies move and what they are capable of.
In short, body awareness emerges as we grow and develop. It depends on fine and gross motor development and balance. Body awareness progresses as these things advance.
Body awareness is the sense that we have of our own bodies. It helps us know where the body parts are, how they move and work, and even how they feel. Body awareness develops as gross motor and fine motor development occur. Balance is also important in the development of body awareness. In sum, as we grow and mature, our level of body awareness advances.