The Sensory Benefits of Raking Leaves

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kids raking leaves

If you live in a northern climate, it's that time of the year again! The weather is turning cooler, Halloween is just around the corner, and soon your yard will be filled with golds, reds, yellows, and oranges. It'll be super pretty, but also pretty difficult to clean up when the time comes to rake your yard.

Parents may dread this time of year because it means long hours in the yard and long hours of back pain to follow. But there's some good news for you: did you know that there are tons of sensory benefits for your child when they rake leaves??

The Sensory Benefits of Raking Leaves

Yup, we went there. There are tons of sensory-specific benefits for kids when it comes to raking leaves, but don't just take our word for it. 

Timothy D. Davis, Ph.D., CAPE, is the director of the SIMS (Sensory Integration/Motor-Sensory) Lab at SUNY Cortland. He had this to say about the sensory benefits of raking leaves:

"For raking leaves, the sensory systems that would be stimulated [are] our tactile, proprioception, and balance," Davis said. "Obviously, you have to stand and balance and twist to rake leaves, which is a stability task. Tactile is simply holding the rake and feeling the pressure as you press down and rake the leaves. Finally, the best part of raking leaves is jumping into the pile you make - that would be proprioception."

Let's break that quote down piece by piece.

Tactile Benefits

kids rake leaves

One of the sensory benefits of raking leaves is the tactile benefit. Specifically, "Tactile is simply holding the rake and feeling the pressure as you press down and rake the leaves." In other words, it's understanding the proper amount of pressure to apply - since too little pressure means the leaves won't move anywhere and too much pressure will break the leaves and make them difficult to clean - both when pressing down and pulling the leaves.

Balance Benefits

As Dr. Davis stated, when raking leaves, you have to "stand and balance and twist" to do it right. For kids, especially smaller kids, raking smaller piles of leaves into larger piles of leaves provides a ton of sensory stimulation precisely because they have to work multiple aspects of balance at once. Additionally, the physical motions older kids have to go through to rake large piles of leaves can work their muscles as well and provide a breathtaking workout!

Proprioception Benefits

Finally - just as Dr. Davis stated! - one of the sensory benefits of raking leaves for kids is the proprioception benefit, and more specifically, jumping into the pile of leaves at the end! Proprioception, which is the body's ability to sense movement and position in space, is super important.

The best part about this proprioception benefit is that it just seems like active play to kids - who doesn't love jumping into a huge pile of leaves at the end of a tough day of raking? If you've got a doggo at home, try inviting them to join the fun as well!

raking leaves

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Have you started raking your yard yet? Do you plan on having your kids help you rake? Let us know!

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