9 Benefits of Obstacle Courses for Kids
Obstacle courses for kids are a fun and challenging way to get those little bodies moving, but their benefits don’t stop there. Obstacle courses are also a great way to enhance ‘Praxis’ - the planning and sequencing of movement – which is a vital skill for growing children to master. They provide novel physical challenges that test this skill, and create opportunities for children to reflect and learn about the success (or otherwise) of their ‘motor plans’ (more on that later!)…
So, What Does ‘Praxis’ Mean, Exactly?
Praxis refers to our ability to create a plan (i.e. determine what we want to do), come up with a ‘motor plan’ (work out how we are going to do it) and then execute our plan. For all of this to happen effectively and smoothly, integration of the senses is required - that is, vision, hearing, touch etc.
Children use planning and sequencing skills for EVERYTHING; running, playing on a climbing frame or at a playground, dressing, eating and so on. These skills impact on a child’s ability to organise themselves and learn new routines, as well as when learning more academic skills like writing, cutting and drawing.
The Building Blocks of Praxis
The building block of praxis include:
- Muscle strength
- Motor planning (being able to move the body with appropriate timing and sequencing to perform movement with control)
- Motor learning (being able to change physical performance from past experience)
- Postural control (being able to stabilise the head and trunk so that the limbs can move)
- Sensory processing (being able to register, interpret and respond to sensory information in the child’s surrounding and their own body)
- Body awareness
- Executive functioning (reasoning and thinking skills)
How Obstacle Courses Can Help with Praxis Skills
Obstacle courses give children a chance to test out their praxis skills in an exciting way that they’ll be clamouring to do over and over again. They create chances for kids to reflect and learn based on how their motor plans worked out (or didn’t work out!) This in turn encourages improvement and refinement of motor planning and praxis.
By climbing over and under obstacles, children build strength in their hands, wrists, shoulders, and core muscles. This helps them to tackle tasks that require precision like writing and cutting more comfortably.
Other Benefits of Obstacle Courses
From a physiotherapist perspective, obstacle courses have other benefits beyond supporting praxis skill development. They also…
- Encourage bilateral integration, which simply means the ability to use both sides of the body in a controlled and coordinated manner.
- Give kids the opportunity for tactile play when they’re climbing under and over obstacles
- Enhance proprioception (knowing where your limbs are without looking)
- Challenges the vestibular system; an important sensory system that tells you where your head is in space! Moving through obstacles aids with development of this essential skill.
So, if you’re keen to challenge your little learner with a great obstacle course to navigate at home, look no further than our MOOV Baby modular climbing equipment collections! They’re easy to create, easy on the eye and have so many possibilities for fun and growth.