We have lots to say about the importance of what we do...
When we think back to our school days, or even days earlier if we can, we never really remember learning our body parts (except of course the song "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" which will never leave our memories). In the Intellidance® curriculum, we are deliberate in our teaching and understanding of the body from our brains to our toes, shaping children who are appreciative, aware, and in full control of their bodies.
Ultimately, we are responsible for setting these little movers up to reach their fullest potential with more body control and less chance for challenges or insecurities down the road in school.
As adults, we use our bodies without even thinking. This is called automticity. Automaticity is what allows our brains to function on a higher level: to multitask, to plan ahead, to create new ideas, to recall information, and of course: to LEARN new information. Automaticity is the goal of early childhood development. Hit those physical milestones (aka integrate your brain and body) so your brain can stop working so hard to control your body and start working on other things like reading, writing, creating, and counting. Needless to say, our bodies should not be taken for granted as our #1 learning tools.
A child who hasn't yet figured out how to use a pencil (and there are many of them in the Kindergarten class) is NOT going to struggle to focus on anything but holding that pencil when sitting at a desk in the classroom. This results in distraction, confusion, disengagement, and potentially negative behavior.
Back to body parts. Identifying body parts and being intentional about using them is a cognitive, physical, and language-enriching process. In early childhood, we learn through sensory discovery which happens by moving through and experiencing the world. With each physical ability we aquire, we become more aware of something else we can do/see/explore. Our bodies are essentially our toolkit for discovery. (If I reach my arm and grasp my hand, I can grab! If I stand up, I can see more things from a higher point of view! If I bend my knees and swing my arms, I can jump like a bunny!)
As your little one is discovering their body, be sure to notice this learning and support it by labeling, touching, and moving body parts in isolation. And especially those body parts that aren't naturally used. The more awkward/unfamiliar movement you can practice (such as walking without bending your knees or rolling like a straight log, or crossing opposite arms to touch opposite feet), the more the brain is flexed.
Another important aspect of encouraging body learning is that it helps children develop an appreciation for their body and a confidence in themeselves which motivates them to reach new heights. Teaching little ones to love their bodies at a young age helps them grow into children and adults who WANT to keep their bodies strong, healthy, and safe so they can continue to do all the things they love to do. Eventually, they will learn that a happy body is a happy me and that is a lesson we as adults struggle with. Maybe if we start emphasizing this a bit more in early childhood, our kids will be more inclined to cherish and take care of their bodies through life!