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How a child learns to know where she is

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Blind > Chapter 11: Helping Your Child Know Where She Is (Orientation) > How a child learns to know where she is

A child who can see uses her eyes to know where she is and where objects are. A child who cannot see well needs to know these things too, but she must learn to use her other senses. When she does, she will be able to move around her home and later become active in the community. To learn how to orient herself:

she must learn
where her
body is in
relation to
other objects
a girl thinking as she stands at a closed door.
The door is right in front of me.
she must
learn where
objects are
in relation
to other
the girl thinking as she opens the door.
From the door, the woodpile is just ahead, on the right.

You can help your child learn orientation skills by: (1) teaching her about her body and the way it can move, (2) helping her develop her senses, which give important information about her surroundings, and (3) thinking about things around your home or neighborhood that she can use as landmarks.

Body Awareness

A child learns the names of the parts of her body by watching and imitating other people. A child who cannot see well will learn the names of different parts of her body when you teach her to use her sense of hearing and touch. For activities that help a young baby learn about her body and develop her senses, see Chapter 5, “Activities for the Young Baby.” Many of these activities are also good for older children.

To help your child learn the names of different parts of her body

a woman speaking to a child in her lap.
Can you touch my mouth, Majoya?

Make up games in which you ask your child to do things with different parts of her body and with your body. To give you some ideas, here are a few examples:

Ask your child to touch part of her body and
then touch the same part on your body.

a man speaking to 2 children lying on the floor.
Now your stomach is touching the floor. Roll over again, so your back touches the floor.

Ask your child to roll over on the floor and name each part of her body as it touches the floor. This is a good group game too.

illustration of the below: a woman speaking to a child with a cloth on her arm.
Mei Mei, your arms help you carry things.

Wrap a cloth around different parts of your child's body and ask her to take it off. Explain the name for each part of the body and what it does.

a boy helping a child to wave to a man on a motrocycle.
Raise your arm and wave bye-bye, Alba.

Encourage your child to nod her head, kick, and to wave — and name the body part she uses.

To help your child learn about the relationship between her body and other objects

a woman speaking as she shakes a rattle behind a child.
If she has trouble knowing right from left, tie a ribbon or bracelet on one of her wrists.
Now the rattle is behind you. Can you find it?

Your child needs to learn ideas like "in front of you" and "to your left" to know where things are. Here are some ways to help her learn.

Try getting her attention with a noisy toy. Tell her where the toy is — in front, behind, or on the right or left side. Then move the toy, tell her where it is, and see if she can find it herself.

a woman speaking to a child who sits facing a pile of stones.
Roibita, let's see how many stones you can pick up with your right hand. Then put them on your left knee.

After she can tell the right side of her body from the left side, hand her different objects and ask her to put them on one side or the other. Gradually make the games harder.

a woman speaking to a child next to a table.
I've hidden the ball
underneath the table. Let's
see if you can find it.

Make up a game in which she gets underneath things (like a table or a bed), on top of things (like a bed), in between or around things (like a table and chairs), through things (like a door) and inside things (like a big box). Explain what each movement is.

a woman speaking as she guides a child who is walking.
First go forward, then to the left to get your ball...

Make up different games in which she must move her body forward, backward, or sideways in order to find a toy. Explain what each movement is. If you make up a song that names each movement, she will remember them better.