Directionality refers to understanding and applying movements in regards to surrounding space. For instance, if you tell your child to go up the ladder and down a slide, they will understand how to perform the necessary actions. Beyond wanting children to be able to read a map, the skill of directionality helps them learn how to read. Without directionality, children can often mix up letters so that words such as "bead" and "dead" read the same to them.
1. Obstacle Courses
You won't need to explain the purpose of an obstacle course to your child. It’s just plain fun. Let your child help build the obstacle course. Chairs with blankets can be bridges they need to crawl "under." Pillows can be mountains that they need to climb "over." Outside, obstacle courses can be made with balls to kick "right" then "left" into a goal before jumping "up" and falling "down" into a baby pool filled with water. Use pool noodles, hula hoops, jump ropes, and backyard or public playgrounds to create your course. Pretend to be monkeys while you do it as extra fun for your child and entertainment for your neighbors.
2. Hot and Cold
The first time you play “hot and cold,” hide a special treat. Let them know what the treat is and explain the rules. You will give them direction by telling them if it’s to their right or left or up or down. Then when they get close you’ll say "hot" or if they’re far away, you’ll say "cold." Once they’ve found the prize, they will most likely want to play again just for the fun of it. Let them take a turn in hiding something and directing you. Once they get good at the game, hide more than one object, such as plastic eggs, and pretend it's training for Easter egg hunts.
3. A Bit Hokey
The song "The Hokey Pokey" is an ideal tool for learning a child's left and right. Sing the song and do the motions with your child. If this is too challenging for you child, try "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." At the point in the song when you touch the parts of your face, try touching only the right eye, ear, mouth and nose. The next time you sing the song, switch to the left side.
Sit down and watch your child’s favorite program with him. If it’s a new one, watch in silence lest you drive them to exasperation. “Mom, I’m trying to hear the show!” Children’s programming relies on repetition as much as parents do, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a rerun. Before the rerun starts, challenge your child to a game of noticing when a character uses a directional word. Keep it simple. Point out when something is “up” or “down” or “in” and “out.”
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