People & Spaces

My Space, My Body: Helping Children Understand Boundaries and Space

Written by Sheeba Manish

Movement and creative thinking are directly linked together. An infants world view changes from the time it can move its head side to side to crawling on all fours. The child moves to explore and learn. Movement takes a back seat as children grow and thus they slowly but surely move away from an important aspect of learning and comprehending the world around them.

The GAIT program hopes to address this and get children to re-incorporate movement and therefore space in their learning idiom. They hope to help as many children achieve a balance between body, mind and thoughts. Self-expression and self-awareness are the keystones of the GAIT program.

An extension of their unique program is a wonderful book ‘ My Space, My Body’, which releases on Oct 17th at the Lightroom Bookstore, Bengaluru.

Roopa Pai (she of Taranauts and The Gita: for Children fame) and Archana Sreenivasan (has in the past illustrated for Puffin, Red Turtle, Katha and Scholastic to name a few) collaborate creatively to come out with a wonderful book ‘My Space,My Body‘, based on the GAIT program’s first module that covers the areas of Body awareness, Personal Space, Rhythm & Movement and Emotions. This glossy hard bound picture book is a delight that will be enjoyed and understood by children of all ages.

Central to the book is our hero and heroine, Taka and Dimi. The siblings have been named after the twins of rhythm. The intrepid duo is much loved by their parents. The book opens with their father making the Sunday breakfast of Mickey Mouse dosas, mini-sugared paranthas and strawberry toast. “Refreshing”, I can hear moms like myself say. The twins, unfortunately, let their enthusiasm get the better of them often. They jostle with each other and push their father too, which doesn’t get much done.

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Father gets on with Sunday breakfast

The same story is enacted when their mother calls them over. They wiggle and push and soon infuriate her.

Their mother suggests that they try the ‘bubble game’. Imagine she says that there is a protective bubble around you. Anyone who infringes another’s bubble loses. A zoo visit is dangled before the twins and soon it is game on! Taka and Dimi are careful not to pop each others bubbles, resulting in a comfortable fun filled Sunday for children and parents alike. The children learn that by respecting each others space they actually have a much better time.

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The invisible bubble around us

Any child can imagine the bubble around them and be aware that they must not enter another person’s bubble without their permission and vice versa. This is a very useful concept when discussing child-adult interactions. Children will realise adults who do not respect boundaries are ‘breaking bubbles’.  A simple and beautiful concept to teach children, particularly very little ones as well.

The bubble game is a powerful tool in managing siblings, classes or any group activity. The concept of boundaries is instilled in children which then translates into greater mindfulness in their other transactions.

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The story is followed by a beautiful worksheet that has instances of ‘bubble poppers’. A hidden puzzle and ‘choose the right words’ get the brain gears going.

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The second story explores movement and expression. The children and their parents observe and try to replicate their movements. Such a fun exercise! Taka opens his mouth wide as a hippo while  daddy uses his hand to work like a trunk!

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Make like a hippo!

The writing is informative, yet sheer fun. The water- colour illustrations are brilliant and immediately engage the reader.

Tested on a focus group of two, I found that the children wanted to immediately do what they had read. They were exceedingly polite and friendly, careful not to pinch and slap each other. We were then regaled with displays of the hippo, snake, swan and monkey – time that would have otherwise been spent watching cartoons.

The GAIT program is worth exploring and you can find plenty of information at their website gaitonline.co.in

 

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