The sixth sense – knowing where your body is in space


Kindermusik Village:  Hickory, Dickory, Tickle and Bounce                                  Week 4
 

Up, Down, Wave, Sway, Over, Under, Around and Around… all words we said or sang in class while we moved. Labeling movement, or saying the word as we do the motion, helps your baby understand new words. In hearing the words, seeing the motion, and moving the body, your baby uses three senses to get information. We call this a multi-sensory experience, and it is one of the best ways your baby learns at this stage.

This week, I brought up the sixth sense that our bodies use to gain information about the world.  We typically think of the five senses, sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.  But we also get information by our ability to know where our body is in space (whether we are straight up, or leaning, or upside down) and how we move through space.  This is known as the sense of proprioception. 

Evan upside down      Darcie balances on ball

Babies are not born with this sense, they must learn it through movement.  By moving our babies in LOTS of different ways like we do in class, the Vestibular system is actively teaching the brain what it needs to know.  The cochlea of the inner ear is filled with a liquid, which acts much like water in a glass.  Because of gravity, the liquid stays parallel to the ground no matter how the body is tipped.  There are loose ended nerves that dangle in this liquid, and send messages to the brain about the position of the body, and how it is moving through space.  What the baby sees during this motion also adds to the connections that the brain is making about what it is learning.  And when you label the movement repeatedly, it adds language layers to the neural pathways that are forming in the brain.

 

Providing opportunities for the vestibular system to teach this sense builds a solid foundation,. from which they will gain balance and coordination.  And a well developed vestibular system also provides emotional security, good muscle tone, and develops auditory language processing and visual-spatial processing.  All while you’re having fun dancing!   I know it seems a little silly to be repeating movement words as we move around the room to “Sonata for Flute”, but you can see how the babies love it, and now you can see why it is so important for their development.

Throughout this week keep moving and labeling actions for your baby.  Just remember that it should be labeled according to your baby’s perspective.  Make sure that when you are saying and moving forward, that your baby is facing and looking forward as well, not to the side looking over your shoulder seeing the reverse.

Look forward to sharing space with you next week!

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