This article focuses on spatial awareness, including how the objects surrounding us affect our spatial awareness and some various challenges we face regarding spatial awareness.
The Floor Is Lava
If you've ever played a game called ''The Floor Is Lava'' and had to maneuver around the living room or classroom without touching the floor by jumping or climbing on things, you were developing your spatial awareness to a specific set of objects in the room. Spatial awareness, simply put, is the ability to understand your relationship to objects in the area around you. In other words, when you have spatial awareness, you know how to move through a room without bumping into things.
When police officers give someone a field sobriety test and ask him to touch his nose, they're determining motor function, which is an aspect of spatial awareness. How you walk through a room without walking into or falling over furniture is spatial awareness. If you've ever watched a server maneuver through a crowded restaurant with a tray of dishes, you're witnessing a master of spatial awareness.
Understanding Objects Around You
To understand spatial awareness completely, you also have to understand the function of the objects around you. This is simply a matter of knowing how you can respond or interact with those objects. Being in front of, behind, on top of, beside, inside, etc., are all ways that children learn to maneuver themselves with regard to spatial awareness.
If children struggle with spatial awareness, instructors `will plan exercises and games during which children have to judge distance and placement, such as throwing balls or beanbags into hoops or holes.
How we move throughout the day is a constant test of spatial awareness. An obstacle course is a fun activity for all ages that challenges and tests spatial awareness.
Spatial Awareness Challenges
The objects around you can be either inanimate or animate. Animate means objects that can move around autonomously, or on their own. Inanimate objects cannot. So, in terms of spatial awareness, moving around a room full of furniture and non-moving objects is an easy task for most.
Some, especially those who are challenged by spatial awareness, have a difficult time with perception or understanding their relationship in space to the object near them. They might not be able to determine how close or far the object is. They have difficulty grasping the movement and space consumption of their own body. Babies, for example, develop their spatial awareness by reaching for inanimate objects like rattles or stuffed animals and learning over time how far to stretch their arms.
Now think about how challenging it is to move through a room with other animate objects. Not only do you have to be aware of your own movement through space, but you also have to predict and adapt quickly to the movement of other objects. To see this in practice, take a room full of sugar-high children and tell them to run around without bumping into each other. Chances are, you'll see at least one concussion.
Because most early physical education classes focus on teaching children spatial awareness, it's important to start them off with the basics. Before they can become star athletes, they have to learn what they can crawl under or stand on top of. Even more challenging is that children are growing rapidly, and their sense of spatial awareness often isn't fully absorbed until they've stopped growing.
This is what makes athleticism such an incredible feat of ability. Think about this in terms of contact versus non-contact sports. In boxing, one fighter tries to strike the other while often simultaneously trying to avoid being hit by his opponent. American football is an interesting observation of spatial awareness. Instead of trying to avoid collision with other objects, defensive football players must use their spatial awareness in an attempt to collide intentionally with another object.
Understanding how the body moves is the ability to recognize spatial awareness, or how you can move through an area in relation to other objects. Some of those objects might also have the ability to move, which makes spatial awareness a bit more challenging. Spatial awareness is more than just having the ability to walk around an obstacle. It's also about knowing how you can interact with an object by knowing if you can stand inside, on top of, or beside an object. A good illustration of spatial awareness is the incredible ability of athletes.