5 Back To School Backpack Tips

School is just around the corner and back-to-school shopping is in full swing! One of the most important items to buy your child is a well-fitted backpack that will ensure proper posture and comfort. Backpacks that are too heavy, too low-fitting or worn just over one shoulder can hinder a child’s spinal alignment and cause muscle strains. It is not uncommon for backpacks to cause acquired scoliosis.

5 tips to keep in mind when buying your child their new backpack

  1. Make sure to choose a backpack that has two shoulder straps. This way, weight is distributed evenly between both sides of the body. One-shoulder packs may be stylish, but can lead to spinal curvature if packed too heavy.Blue Child's Backpack
  2. A backpack should fit snugly on the lower back and should never lay below 4 inches below the waist. This way, shoulder and back muscles are not strained and a child will be able to maintain correct posture when standing and walking. A child should be able to stand up straight and not round their back or shoulders when carrying their backpack.
  3. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, a backpack should weigh no more then 15% of the child’s body weight. For example, a child weighing 100 pounds should not wear a backpack weighing more then 15 pounds.
  4. If the backpack is too heavy for the student, roller-bags are a good option. Make sure to check with school faculty to see if these are allowed within your child’s school. A heavier item, such as a large textbook, can be held in an arm instead of on the back if the backpack is too overloaded.
  5. Try to lead heavier items toward the back so that weight is evenly distributed. If certain items are not needed for the day, leave them at home to lessen the weight of the backpack.

 

Loop, Swoop, and Pull! Teaching Shoe Tying

Learning to tie shoes can be an exciting milestone for a child; however, teaching your child to tie their shoes can feel very daunting! Here are some tips to make it a littler easier and much less stressful.

Tips for making shoe tying a little easier

  • Child's hands tying shoeTake your child’s lead to determine if they are ready to learn this new skill. Children typically have the coordination and dexterity to tie their shoes by the time they are going to preschool or kindergarten. This, however, is not a steadfast rule and some kids may be ready earlier and some later.
  • Find a time to practice when
    you are not rushing out the door. Before or after dinner or on the weekend might be a good time to sit down and practice.
  • Choose a method and break it down into steps. Whether you use the two loop or one loop method be sure to go step by step. Either method starts with making an “X” and then a knot. Sometimes this is a good place to stop. Have your child master these first two steps before moving on.
  • When you are demonstrating for your child make sure you are sitting beside or behind them so that they are watching from the correct angle rather than in front of them where they would have to mirror your movements.
  • A rhyme or story can help your child remember the steps to shoe tying. One of the best known and simple rhymes is “Loop, swoop, and pull.”
  • When you first begin, have your child practice with their shoe on the floor or on the table. Sometimes this is easier as they can get up close and see what they are doing. There are also books and dolls available that have laces for practice.
  • Praise them for each step that they master! A little encouragement goes a long way!

 

Go Outside! The Many Benefits Of Outdoor Play For Children

These days, technology has made everything more convenient for us, including play. Children don’t have to leave their house as they have a wide assortment of video games and educational Outdoor Play Blogcomputer games to choose from, as well as educational toys that talk and move and as a result, we see a decrease in outdoor play. These advances can be great and very beneficial for a developing child; however, technology cannot replace what is most important- the real, natural experience.

The benefits of outdoor play on children:

Children need to engage in outdoor play to experience the smells, textures, sounds and movement of the world in order to help their nervous systems develop. Children need the natural sensory experiences to learn about the world, and how to react to and adapt to their surroundings. Sometimes children really want to stay inside to play video games and sleep, but when they do this they are deprived of these developmentally important, sensory-rich experiences.

The tactile sense, for example, is a very important sense as we need steady tactile stimulation to keep us organized, functioning and healthy. Tactile information helps to develop visual perception, motor planning, body awareness, social skills and emotional security, among others. The vestibular, proprioceptive, visual, and olfactory senses are very important as well, and children need to utilitze these in order to help the development of their gross and fine motor skills.

Some fun activities to stimulate children’s senses during outside play include:

  • Splashing and playing in puddles
  • Playing in the mud and making “mud pancakes”
  • Picking flowers to make a wreathe, or to play “flower shop”
  • Climbing trees
  • Running around barefoot in the grass
  • Playing in sand and making sand castles
  • Swimming in a lake
  • Riding a bike on a bumpy driveway outside
  • Crunching dried leaves with your feet
  • Raking leaves and jumping into the piles
  • Making snow angels, snowmen, igloos, forts and having snowball fights in the winter

The benefits are many; one mother has even said that her “picky eater” child “is so much more willing to try new foods after he comes home from playing outside.” Children also need some time for relaxation and unstructured play to learn about the world and to help develop their imaginations. So go ahead, relax, and let your children go outside!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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5 Tips For Improving Your Child’s Language And Social Skills During Your Everyday Routine

When it comes to improving language and social skills, and evolving cognitive behavior in children, it is natural that a Young Boy Reaching For Toybehavior analyst will  look for environmental variables that may impact behaviors that influence these areas of learning. There are various studies  showing that children’s early life experiences can play an important role in language development. There are also various educational models that result in improvement in language and other cognitive and social skills. However, there is also evidence  suggesting that any gains or advantages can diminish over time, especially in children of poor and working-class families.

Through their book Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children (1995), Hart and Risley found that the quality and frequency of speech between parents and infants (6 to 8 months of age) have a direct impact on their vocabularies. They were also able to teach parents at home, and on the job to say more to their children and be more reinforcing (as opposed to primitive and discouraging in nature) when their children imitated and took notice to their examples.

The following are some strategies that can assist you in improving your child’s verbal and overall social skills.

Tips For Finding Everyday Moments To Teach Verbal And Social Skills

Identify a few learning goals that you want to focus on with your child (e.g. establishing eye contact, asking for a preferred item, etc.)

  • To start out with, it may be helpful to choose some activities in which to focus on (e.g. looking at your child’s favorite book, playing with a preferred toy)

Look and plan for “Teachable moments”

  • Can include daily routines (e.g. meals, playtime, car trips, getting dressed, watching TV, etc)
  • Take time to plan your events (e.g. During a community outing you can work on one word exchanges with others, gross motor imitation, or eye contact). This may help eliminate trying to think of what to do while you are in the middle of doing it.

Pay attention to what your child wants. The best “teachable moment” is when your child wants something (e.g. food, toy, attention, a break, etc)

  • Let your child select the activity
  • Let your child initiate the interaction by requesting assistance from the adult
  • Requests can be verbal and nonverbal e.g. calling your name, crying, stretching for an object, asking for food, play material, or information

The “teachable moment” should be just that – a moment. Keep it brief and enjoyable. If it goes too long it may become unpleasant to the child. In this case stop and go on to another activity.

Start small and set a goal – “Today I will look for 3 “teachable moments”

  • As you get used to this it will start to feel more natural and you can increase your goal
  • Keep planning to make sure you are reaching your goals

 

Milestones for Kid’s Success

Active BabyHow do we identify the milestones our kids need to succeed? How fast should your child be developing mentally and physically? Does every child develop on their own schedule or should you compare your child to the “norm”?

Milestones are important to be aware of because if children are not in the general range of normal or typical development, parents need to be proactive and start asking questions.

7 Steps to Measuring Milestones and Making Sure Your Child Is On The Right Track:

1) Use a check list and log your child’s new skills.

2) Make a separate checklist of areas you may feel your child is behind on.

3) Read well-respected parenting blogs and articles by licensed professionals to stay on top of what your child should be doing

4) Read E-Books and Popular Publications that include Milestone Checklists and Guides For Parents and Doctors

5) If your child is delayed in a developmental area, move on it quickly. Better safe than sorry.

6) Make a visit to your MD and tell him/her your concerns.

7) Visit the necessary specialists and find someone you can trust and do what you need to do.

Always trust your instincts as the parent and remain proactive!

Save Time: Incorporate Your Child’s Home Exercise Programs into your Daily Routine

Therapy Homework Doesn’t Have To Be Another Task On Your Long To-Do List

Girl Helping Un-pack GroceriesSometimes, it can be overwhelming to fit everything into your day when there is just so much to do! That feeling has often led me to wish that there were at least 28 hours to each day so that it could all be accomplished! Instead of feeling like your child’s occupational therapy homework is another thing to cross off your list, there are ways you can incorporate it into your usual daily routine. Below are some ideas to incorporate this homework into your routine to make it easy to get it done.

Ways To Incorporate Occupational Therapy Homework Into Your Daily Routine

1. Have your child transition from activity to activity as he gets ready to leave the house for the day by doing heavy work.

  • For example, he can wake up and do 10 jumping jacks before going to the bathroom to brush teeth, crab walk to the kitchen for breakfast, bear crawl to the bedroom to get dressed, and then frog jump from the front door to the car to leave for the day.

2.Have your child help you with household chores. For example they can:

  • push a laundry basket
  • help vacuum
  • wipe the table off after dinner
  • push in chairs
  • shovel snow
  • rake leaves
  • changing sheets on the bed
  • take out the garbage
  • help carry groceries from the car to the house and help put them away

3. Have your child use tweezers or clothespins to help make pizza for dinner (or another meal). Have him pick up pieces of cheese or pepperoni with the tweezers and put it on the pizza dough.

Please leave a comment if you have any additional tricks to fit your child’s therapy homework into your daily schedule!

Reading Contest Results: Top Books For First Time Readers

Reading together is a great activity with many benefits parents and caretakers can do with children from a very young age. Some parents even read to their children before birth!

Before you know it, the time comes for children to get Pile Of Booksinvolved with the reading… But what story will provide the right combination excitement, fun, inspiration, and picture guidance to allow your child to read a book to you, all on their own?

A trip to the library or the children’s section of your local bookstore will provide a variety of options that can sometimes be overwhelming. To help you pick out the best books for your child we held a contest on our blog asking our readers to share with you which books they, or their children had first reading success with.

Below are the best first book titles we compiled from our blog readers to help start your child on their life long reading adventure.

Top Titles For First Time Readers

  1. Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly – “fun to read and act out”
  2. Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman – “When they don’t recognize a word, they only need to look at the pictures to help them figure it out!”
  3. We Love You…Just The Way You Are! Mommy Perks got creative and wrote this story for her daughter and it became “her first memorized story”
  4. Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton
  5. The Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton.
  6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
  7. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr.
  8. From Head To Toe by Eric Carle
  9. My Uncle’s Donkey by Tohby Riddle: “I really really loved it to the extent that I would always hold it!”
  10. Green Eggs And Ham by Dr. Seuss – “as a picky eater, I loved quoting this book for my parents at meal-time and using food coloring to make green eggs with my mom

We hope you can use some of these books to get your child excited about reading. Soon you will experience the proud feeling and excitement that comes when your child can read a book to you next story time!

Tackling Trouble With R: Exercises to Practice “R” Pronunciation With Your Child

The /r/ phoneme is one of the most commonly mis-articulated sounds, and it can be one of the most challenging sounds to correct. Many of the sounds we produce are visual, which is very helpful for school-age children. 

One of the reasons /r/ is so hard to teach is because the child is unable to see what their tongue looks like or where it is inside the mouth. In addition, the way in which the tongue is positioned in the mouth for an accurate production of /r/ varies from person-to-person.

How the “R” sound is formed:

  • The front part of the tongue may be “retroflexed”, which means that the tongue tip is pointing slightly up and back, behind the teeth.
  • The tongue may be “bunched”, which means that the middle of the tongue is bunched in the middle area of the mouth. The sides of the tongue must press against the back teeth or molars for both the “bunched”and “retroflexed” tongue positions.

The /r/ phoneme is even more complicated because the pronunciation depends on where the sound falls in a word. The /r/ can be prevocalic (comes before a vowel, “rabbit”), intervocalic (between two vowels, “cherry”) or postvocalic (after a vowel, “butter”). The prevocalic /r/ is the only case where /r/ is considered a consonant. The other /r/ sounds are known as “r-colored vowels”.

Elicitation techniques for /r/:

Using hand gestures – Hold one hand horizontally to symbolize the tongue, and hold the other hand underneath. Using the hand on top, show the tongue movement necessary to produce /r/. By cupping the hand, you’re showing the tongue tip is up and slightly back.

Shaping /r/ from /l/ – Tell your child to make an /l/ sound. From there, they should slide their tongue along the top of their mouth (hard palate), and this will inevitably turn into the retroflexed tongue position.

Shaping /r/ from /oo/ – Have the child say “oo” as in the word “look.” While saying the “oo” sound, tell the child to move his tongue back and up slowly – Using your hand to show this movement can be helpful!

Shaping /r/ from /z/ – Have the child prolong the “z” sound. Then tell the child to move his/her tongue back slowly while opening the jaw slightly. Remind the child to keep the back sides of the tongue up against the upper teeth.

Using animal sounds (Always model these sounds for the child first.)

  • Rooster crowing in the morning, “rrr rrr rrr rrrrrrrrrr”
  • Cat purring, “purrrrrr”
  • Tiger growl, “grrrrrrr”

Using a silent /k/ – Have the child open their mouth and make a silent /k/. Then have him attempt the growling sound.

Changing jaw position with /l/ – Have the child produce the /l/ sound, and while saying this sound, pull the lower jaw down slowly until he reaches the correct position for /r/ –  An adult can pull the jaw down gently if the child is having a difficult time lowering it down slowly.

Eliminating the /w/ – If the child is using a /w/ sound for /r/- Tell the child to smile – you can’t make a /w/ sound when you smile!

Other ways to help:

  • Be a good model – Restate what your child said and say the /r/ correctly.
  • Work on discrimination – Say an /r/ word correctly or incorrectly and see if your child can recognize the difference between a “good” /r/ sound and a “could be better” /r/ sound.
  • Talk to a certified speech language pathologist (SLP)

When to consult a speech language pathologist:

The age range for mastery of the /r/ sound is quite large. Many children master the sound by age five and a half, while others don’t produce it correctly until age 7. A general rule of thumb is that if they aren’t pronouncing it correctly by the first grade, seek advice from a licensed speech language pathologist.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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Got Chopsticks? A Great Tool For Improving Hand Skills

Colorful Assortment Of Chopsticks

Chopsticks are a great utensil to use during mealtime and for a variety of creative games and activities. Chopsticks can help children to work on hand-dominance, pre-handwriting/handwriting skills, and improving their grasp in a fun and exciting manner.

Games with chopsticks

Relay race:

Place a bucket at one end of the room and the objects to be picked-up on the other side of the room (e.g. marbles, beads, cotton balls, dry cereal). Read more

All By Myself: Child’s First Book Contest

Share Your Child’s First Book For a $75 Amazon.com Gift Card | So Easy To Win This Contest!

Very Happy Boy With Book

Time and time again parents are told that reading to your child as early as birth and teaching your child to read early is important for development and will lead to life long success.  Here at North Shore Pediatric Therapy we couldn’t agree more!  Encouragement from parents, teachers, siblings and peers is an important motivator, and of course, so is a good book!

At North Shore Pediatric Therapy we want to provide you with a list of parent tested titles to get your child excited about reading. We know that parents are the field experts so we want your help!  And of course we will reward you for your opinion!

Contest Details: Share Your Favorite Book And Win!

  1. Become a fan of our Facebook Page by liking us here:
  2. Write the name of the first book your child read independently in the comments section of this blog post. Feel free to add additional comments about why you think your child had success with this book or how you got them interested in reading.
  3. Then thumbs up your favorite suggestions form others
  4. Finally, share this contest on your facebook and encourage your friends to like your suggestion!  Don’t have a child old enough to read yet? Don’t worry, you can tell us about your first book.

On July 14 (10:00pm CST) the author of the most voted comment will win a $75.00 Amazon.com gift card. That’s enough to buy plenty of new books for your children to get excited about (and a few for you as well).

At the end of the contest we’ll also be posting a blog with the top 10 beginning readers titles and some comments and input from you as well.

Click here to read other blogs about reading…

For more information on how to get your child reading, visit our Orton-Gillingham Reading Program by clicking here.