“Praxis” is our ability to think about how to do something we want to do.
Kids use praxis when they are learning something new (which happens every day!). Let’s look at an example: Learning how to climb across the monkey bars at the park.
- Imitation “Can my child move across the monkey bars after I demonstrate it?”
- Problem-solving “Do they know where to place their feet and hands to maintain their balance?”
- Sequencing: “Does my child understand the order of the steps:
- 1) climb up the ladder
- 2) turn their body around
- 3) place both hands tightly around the first monkey bar… and so forth?”
- Timing “Does my child know the optimal time to let go of the monkey bars to move onto the next bar?”
- Planning “Does my child know to find the momentum to move across the monkey bars efficiently?”
While this may seem instinctual to adults, consider how it must feel to look at the monkey bars for the very first time. There are a lot of steps involved and a lot to consider.
So, “Why does praxis matter?”
Research shows a relationship between praxis and socialization (Smith Roley et al., 2015) and a relationship between praxis and academic outcomes (Parham, 1998).
“Where else do I see praxis in my kids?”
Praxis is in everyday tasks such as:
- Getting ready for play dates at the park
- Learning new social games such as “Duck, Duck, Goose”
- Organizing their room
“How can we improve praxis?”
It varies. In general, consider how well they imitate, problem-solve, sequence, time, and plan the steps in the activities you introduce to them, and adjust the teaching strategy accordingly.
Some fun activities to try include:
- Simon Says
- Learning new sports
Have fun, and find that “just right challenge” for your kiddo. Add support as needed and remove support when they are ready. Enjoy!
Parham, L. (1998). The relationship of sensory integrative development to achievement in elementary students: Four-year longitudinal patterns. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 18, 105-127. doi: 10.1177/153944929801800304.
Roley, S. S., Mailloux, Z., Parham, L. D., Schaaf, R. C., Lane, C. J., Cermak, S. (2015). Sensory integration and praxis patterns in children with autism. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(1):6901220010. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2015.012476. PMID: 25553746.