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5 FUN FINE MOTOR ACTIVITIES FOR HALLOWEEN

The weather is getting chilly again, and Halloween is almost here! Here are some great ideas for indoor fun that will help children develop their fine motor strength and coordination skills.

5 Fun Fine Motor Activities For Halloween:

Tissue Paper Pumpkin:

Supplies: construction paper, markers, tissue paper, gluegirl carving a pumpkin

*Draw a pumpkin on construction paper. Tear small pieces of tissue paper, and using one hand, scrunch up the pieces with your thumb, index and middle fingers. Dip the tissue paper into glue and place it on the construction paper to fill in the pumpkin.

Haunted House:

Supplies: popsicle sticks, glue or superglue (use with supervision), construction paper, paint

Use construction paper as a base for the popsicle stick house, as the glue may get messy on a table. *Make a floor out of popsicle sticks and secure it with glue to the construction paper. Glue popsicle sticks together to make the walls and the roof. To make a slanted roof, secure the roof to the walls on a diagonal. Once the glue on the house is dry, you can paint it black and paint on ghosts and goblins.

Ghosts:

Supplies: kleenex or paper towel (to make a bigger ghost), cotton balls, thread, marker

*Place a few cotton balls in the center of the kleenex or paper towel for the head of the ghost. Next, fold the napkin in to wrap it around the cotton ball, and secure the head by tying a thread around it while letting the rest of the napkin flow.

To hang it up, pull a threaded needle through the top of the ghost’s head. Make sure the thread is long enough to hang to hang on something, and loop it through to make a knot.

Pumpkin Carving:

Supplies: pumpkin, marker, pumpkin carver (it is easier and safer to use than a knife, and you can buy one at walmart, stencils (optional)

*Draw a face on the pumpkin with stencils or free-hand, and carve away! This is a great activity to develop motor control and strength.

Halloween Necklace:

Supplies: Halloween colored beads of all shapes and sizes, beading wire or thread

*Make a knot on one of the thread, and start stringing the beads! Using small beads is great for fine motor control and precision. For additional coordination and fine motor muscle development, instruct your child to hold 3-5 beads in the palm of their hand, and as they need the next bead, have them use their thumb, index and middle finger to get the bead out of their palm. Make sure their palm is facing up so that they cannot compensate and use gravity to help them get the beads!

“I Don’t Know How She Does It!”: How Do We Balance Our Careers With Our Family Life?

High-powered finance executive by day, devoted wife and mother of two by night. “I don’t know how she does it!” How does she balance her career path with her family life? The movie “I don’t know how she does it,” starring Sarah Jessica Parker, sets out to explore this age-old question. So how do you do it? How do you successfully balance your professional and balancing work and familypersonal life? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers, nor is there one answer that works for everyone.

Explore these questions to decide what fits for you and your life:

1. What are my priorities at this point in my life?

  •  Priorities change over time. Your priorities may change based on your age, the age of your children, where you are in your career, and your relationships with partners, friends, relatives, and co-workers.
  • Exploring with yourself what your current priorities are can help you formulate a plan. If your priority is time spent with your children, for example, what will that look like when you have a deadline to meet? If your priority is advancement in your career, what will that look like when your family decides to go on vacation? Exploring these difficult questions beforehand can help you brainstorm possible ways to act based on your priorities.
  • Periodically asking yourself about your priorities is a helpful way to remind yourself that it is normal and okay for priorities to shift and for your answers to career/family balance questions to also change.

2. What are my boundaries?

  • Many parents discuss the importance of boundaries when it comes to their professional and personal lives. Setting boundaries is one way to maintain guidelines.
  • Questions of career/family balance occur often. Your boss asks you to stay late, but your child has a math test the next day. Your children want to spend time with you, but you have a presentation to work on. Having pre-set boundaries can give you something to fall back on.
  • Asserting and communicating your boundaries to your workplace and family is important so that everyone is informed and on the same page about the way you want to balance your professional and personal life.

3. How can I cope when things do not go the way I had planned or hoped?

  • Exploring your priorities and setting boundaries will not set answers in stone for you. Sometimes you make difficult choices in a way that you had not planned. Sometimes you cannot keep your boundaries. This is normal and okay—juggling a career with a family is extremely complicated and challenging, and no one does exactly what they planned or hoped to do every time.
  • Accept yourself as a human being that may have to make choices that you did not anticipate. Explore with yourself what can help you cope when this time comes. Do you write in a journal? Talk to a friend or spouse? Exercise? Take some alone time? What is it that works for you to feel hopeful, at peace, and confident in yourself as an employee and parent? How can you let go of possible guilty, sad, anxious, or hopeless feelings?

4. How can I gain support?

  • Balancing your career and family life is a constant process and journey, and as employees and parents, reaching out for help and support is vital for your well-being.
  • When do you need support? Recognizing when you need help is important so that you receive the support you deserve. What helps you feel supported? Take some time to think about what makes you feel refreshed, energized, calm, and happy. With busy schedules of maintaining the career/family balance, some parents may say they do not have time to engage in self-care activities. Taking time (even if it is just 5 minutes) to feel supported, however, can help you feel more energized throughout the day.

Exploring these questions about career/family life balance can help you to begin thinking about how YOU would answer the question of “How do you do it?” No two parents are exactly alike, and answering this challenging question in a way that fits with your unique beliefs, background, needs, wants, family, and career is important, rather than finding the “right” answer.

So, parents: How do you do it? Sharing your stories with each other can create connection, spark new ideas to try, and help you to see that every person balances their careers and family life differently.

Here is a list of how some of our very own North Shore Pediatric Therapy staff maintain the career/family balance:

CEO, Married, Father of 5:

“First, you can bring your kids to work once in awhile and let them experience your work world. You can also talk about issues that are age-appropriate with your children so they learn what you do and what you deal with so they become interested, learn, and grow from your work experience. This can also help them to work harder at school with their peers. Another suggestion is to ask your children if they feel they have enough time with you, and if not, ask them how would they like things to change for the better. Scheduling in one-on-one time with your children is a good way to help them feel important. Be interested in their work and what they do in school. It is important that you’re not just talking about your work but letting them know their work is also important—acknowledge their stresses and responsibilities.”

President/Founder, Married, Mother of 5:

“First, don’t forget your children at school! Oh boy, I have five and a few times when I was treating kids at NSPT late I got calls to work from the kids ‘Hi mom, I’m in the office, you forgot to pick me up!’ The best thing is that the kids knew I was working hard and loved it and they knew when I wasn’t working I was 100% all for them. Turn off all screens and concentrate on them when you are “off” and they will always be “on” for you! Second, kids actually don’t want SO MUCH attention from you. So, when they come home from wherever they are, just turn 100% attention to them. Tell them they have 20 minutes of YOU YOU YOU. You will see that after about 3-5 minutes of talking to you or hugging or whatever they need, they have other business to tend to like playing, eating, talking on the phone, homework, friends, pets, and will continue on their merry way! Third, work somewhere where you are happy. Happy mom equals happy family!”

Family-Child Advocate, Married, Mother of 3:

“We just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on the 11th and have 3 children. Our oldest son Bill just graduated from medical school in June, our daughter Caitlin was married in May and our youngest Matthew has moved back to complete college at UIC for pre-med. All three have had learning differences so in addition to always working full time we had to factor in therapy and tutoring etc. We found that good communication and ORGANIZATION were the keys to getting it all done. In our case it was not “I don’t know how she does it”, it was always “This is mandatory for success” so it took priority and a schedule. We have a large centralized calendar and we had family meetings once a month to go over the schedule and we gave responsibility to the kids when they were old enough! Another thing that is key to getting it all accomplished is a sense of humor! Things happen and the wheels fall off of the best laid plans, but it helps to laugh!”

Clinical Consultant, Married, Mother of 2:

Make sure you leave work at work. When you come home and see your children for the first time, pay attention to them. Assign a time every night to hear about their day, talk about what they did and just spend valuable time with them. Save your work stories for your spouse after the kids go to bed. If you work from home it is especially important that your children know how long you will be on the computer for or on a conference call for. You can say to them “Mommy will be doing work for 45 minutes, but after I am done you get to choose an activity for us to do together”. You can even set a timer so they have a visual of when you will be able to bring your attention back to them. Leave weekends to family time. We call every Sunday “Sunday Funday Family Day” in our house. The children know that on that day they have our undivided attention!”

Neuropsychologist, Married, Father of 2:

“When I get home, my wife and I focus on our kids…getting them fed, going through routines, preparing for school the next day, spending time together…until they go to bed. Then, my wife and I have time together, where we process our days. Any work that I have to do, I do when everyone is asleep. So my time is spent first on my kids, then my wife, and then me.”

Occupational Therapist, Married, Mother of 2 toddlers:

“First, I love my career and my family. That helps everything. Second, I decided that the concept of balance, as it relates to career and family life, is unrealistic for me. So I have gone with the concept of seasons or synergy instead. Some weeks I’m going to come in to work early, stay late, and work on the weekends, some weeks the opposite will be true. If I expect that of my career and communicate that ahead of time to my family I don’t feel I’m disappointing them or myself during he hard weeks. Finally, I really value and prioritize my relationship with my husband – we are the ones running our crazy show together, so we need to be happy together for the most part.”

Speech Language Pathologist/Branch Director, Married, Mother of 1:

“As a mom of a 12 month old boy, I think the balance is all about finding a schedule and sticking to it. If you know what works, make sure to keep a routine that is predictable for you and your child. However, you also need to be flexible and able to change, so your schedule shouldn’t be too rigid. Most importantly, laugh! Keep a good sense of humor and go with the flow, even if things don’t turn out as planned. So what if the dishes aren’t washed and the laundry isn’t folded. At least my son went to bed happy and I have some quiet time to catch up with my husband and work!”

We would love to hear what you do, post a comment and tell us how you manage to balance work and family!

Teaching Your Child To Care

Teaching your child to care for others is an important role that each and every parentgirl caring for friend carries.

Often, people assume that compassion is a born instinct, but it can also be taught. Yes, all people are born with some level of a “caring gene”, just as Babe Ruth was born with a talent to play baseball. However, if Babe Ruth was never introduced to baseball, never taught the rules of the game, never tried to play, then what good would his natural talent have been? Everybody can be taught to feel for others; you just have to start teaching them while they are young and continue teaching them by example!

Here Are Some Tips to Help Your Child Learn To Be More Compassionate:

Start Young

  • Start teaching your child to care for others as soon as they are able to communicate.During play-time, role-play with your baby on dolls. Show them how to hold, hug and care for the doll. Even pretend the doll got hurt and show your baby how to comfort the doll. Playing with your child and a doctor’s kit is another great way to show your child to care for others and how one person makes another feel better.
  • It’s also important to teach your child in the moment. When at the playground or on a play-date and your toddler’s friend falls down or gets hurt, bring it to your toddler’s attention. You can say to your toddler: “Oh no, Joey got hurt, and is very sad. I think it would make him feel better if you gave him a hug”. This will ensure that when your child is in preschool, he or she will more likely be the kid who helps his or her friends instead of running past them when they get hurt.
  • Just as teaching your children to care for those who are hurt physically, it’s equally important to teach your child to be aware of those who get hurt emotionally. Let your child know that it is not okay to hurt other’s feelings. This will prove to be vital when your child is in grade school and Bullying begins.

Lead by Example

  • Parents are the first teacher a child ever has. Everything a parent does, their child is watching, taking notes and learning from. Show your child how to be compassionate. When you see a homeless person on the street, stop and give him/her some spare change. Afterward, explain to your child why you helped that person. How there are people out there less fortunate. Let your child know that there are children who may not have as many toys as your child. Ask your child how it would make them feel to not have all the things he/she has.
  • Often, people get frustrated when they have to pull over to let an ambulance or fire-truck pass by because it delays them to their destination. Instead of getting irritated, say out loud how you hope the ambulance or firemen get there in time to help those in trouble.

Find Local Places to Visit

  • Along with leading by example, you can help your child become caring and compassionate by actually working with those in need. Many nursing homes have programs where you can bring children to come and talk to residents.
  • You can also take your child to a soup kitchen to help serve people in need. Let your child feel good about helping others!
  • Have your child bring a bag of toys to a children’s home to give to less fortunate children. There are plenty of websites that offer information on places and ways you and your child can help. Below are a couple of examples:

 http://www.redcross.org/volunteertime/ and http://www.volunteermatch.org/

So go ahead, turn off your T.V. and video games and go out with your child into the world to make a difference!

I welcome any comments on more opportunities for children to “care”!

Helping Your Child Plan and Organize Their Daily Lives

The start of school brings many changes with children’s daily lives. Children must be able to transition between subjects, organizing their work, sitting at home, and independently taking the initiative to do their homework and monitor their own productivity. These above behaviors all fall under the label of “executive functioning.”

homework with mom and daughterMany children are able to complete these tasks and behaviors independently; however, a large portion of children also struggle with one or more of the behaviors and tasks. As a result, many children benefit from strategies to help develop their organization, planning, problem solving, time management, and monitoring of their work.

Parents vs. Children on Homework Assignments

As a psychologist, I often have parents inform me about constant battles that they have with their children to complete daily homework assignments. Specifically, parents often report to me that their children will do anything but start their homework (surfing the internet, texting friends from their cell phones, or watching television/playing video games).

Two major executive functioning tasks are involved with the child’s ability to complete daily homework: Initiation of action and time management. Children who demonstrate issues with their ability to complete daily homework benefit from strategies and interventions that target their ability to start and complete their work in a timely fashion.

Tips to help children complete daily homework:

  • Developing a daily “Need to” (homework, chores) and “Want to” (baseball practice, dance lessons, video game time) list of tasks
  • Prioritizing the list with estimated time requirements for each task
  • Verbally and physically prompting your child before starting each task by (e.g., “John, what is the next thing we should do?” while tapping him on the shoulder)
  • Positively reinforcing all self-initiating tasks by giving praise when your child starts a project on his/her own

Dealing With Your Child’s Forgetfulness About Assignments

Another major area of concern I hear from parents is that although their children are able to actually complete the work, they struggle with their organizational skills and will either forget about the assignments or lose the work between home and school. As a result of the difficulties with organization, all children benefit from strategies to improve this area of functioning.

Strategies that have proven to be effective with the development of a child’s organization include:

  • Structuring and scheduling designated ‘study time’ as part of your child’s daily routine.
  • Completing homework in a central location away from distracters including television, computer, telephone, and other people who might be disruptive.
  • Creating time-lines for long-term projects, breaking tasks down into basic elements with separate due dates for each task.
  • Discussing homework expectations with their teacher to determine the recommended amount of study time.

With the start of school, we want to help children be as organized as possible and ready to complete daily homework in a timely fashion. Following the above strategies and developing some of your own will ensure that your child will be more organized and less stressed!

6 Ways Aquatic Therapy Can Help Your Child

Aquatic therapy is a wonderful activity for children and adults of all ages. If your child likes the bath and is motivated by water, aquatic therapy is aqua therapygreat way to build their skills and confidence.

Below are 6 ways that aquatic therapy can help your child reach their full potential:

1. Gains in range of motion:

After an injury, such as a broken leg or an ankle sprain, joint movement is often limited by swelling or decreased strength to muscles. Aquatic therapy pools are generally set to a comfortable 80-90 degrees, which is warmer then a normal pool. Using the warm temperature of the water, joints will be able to be more flexible and stretch to new limits.

2. Increased strength:

Once proper range of motion is achieved at a joint, proper strengthening is needed in order for the muscle to perform well at its new length. Using the principle of resistance, muscles are able to gain strength by performing simple actions in the water, such as lifting a leg to the side of the body.

3. Achievement of gross motor milestones:

Children have an easier time completing gross motor milestones, such as rolling, walking and jumping in the water secondary to buoyancy principles. For example, a child with cerebral palsy may learn to roll in the water with the assist of a therapist and the buoyancy of the water. Once the nervous and musculoskeletal system in the child’s body learn how to roll in the water, it will be easier to learn on a mat table in the clinic and then transfer to rolling in bed at home.

4. Increased tactile input:

For kids with sensory processing disorders, the water can provide the deep pressure input that they crave. This deep pressure and overall increased tactile input will help a child who has difficulty processing sensory input transfer into a more organized, calm child.

5. Helps with breath support:

For kids with speech issues, aquatic therapy can be very helpful. By using techniques such as holding their breath under water, deep breathing and by raising their arms up and bringing them down with the resistance of water can all help with proper breath support for speaking.

6. Better social interaction:

Completing gross motor activities can often help to decrease social anxiety. Often times, jumping into the water or swimming across the length of the pool can encourage speaking in children who have anxiety. Kids can also learn a swimming stroke from watching each other, share toys and participate in fun games together in the pool setting.

Aquatic therapy can be a great way to help your child reach their full potential. Not only can it help with gross motor skills, but can also help with speech and social interaction. So, if your child is motivated by the water, encourage them to jump on in!

Have aquatic games you would like to share? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Sugar Not to Blame for ADHD

Sugar has been hypothesized for years as being a major culprit in the rise of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

In fact, this notion was so popular and accepted that it was actually paired as the correct answer to the statement, “The major cause of hyperactivity in North America” on the Kid with junk foodtelevision show Jeopardy in January of 1987 (Barkley, 2000). It is surprising that such claims have been made and still held onto today even though not a single scientific study has supported them.

Why people blame ADHD in children on sugar:

Why do parents and many practitioners hold on to such claims then? Why is the idea that sugar will make you hyper so popular? One suggestion has been postulated by two psychologists from the University of Kentucky in a study published in 1994 is the power of psychological suggestion.

In this study, the authors created a condition in which the mothers of several boys who rated their children as being “sugar sensitive” were instructed that their child was either given a drink with sugar or a sugar free drink; when in fact none of the children were given any sugar in the drinks. The mothers were then asked to rate their child’s behavior after they were given the drink.

Results indicated that the mothers who thought their children had ingested a sugary drink rated their children as being more hyperactive.

The mothers were also:

  • More critical of their physical activities
  • Maintained closer physical proximity to their children
  • Talked more frequently to the children then the parents who thought the child consumed the sugar free drink.

What this study indicates as pointed out by Barkley (2000) is that “what parents believe about a dietary cause of hyperactivity (e.g. sugar) not only can bias their reports but also can change the way the parents treat their children.”

Causes of ADHD:

So, sugar does not cause ADHD, but what does?

What numerous research articles have indicated is that both genetic and environmental factors produce the cluster of symptoms that make up the condition. What is known is that genetics has(have) the largest factor in the expression of ADHD. Research has indicated that up to 80% of the variance in the expression of ADHD symptoms is directly related to genetics (Marks, Trampush, & Chacko, 2010).

Beyond genetics, research has demonstrated the importance of two major neurotransmitters in the expression of the condition: dopamine and norepinephrine. Thus, it comes as no surprise that majority of stimulant and non-stimulant pharmacological interventions for ADHD target these two neurotransmitters.

Overall, much hype has been made regarding the impact that sugar has on the expression of ADHD; specifically many individuals hold the notion that sugar increases hyperactivity. Not a single empirical research study has supported that notion. What research has supported is that the cause of the disorder is the same cause of the majority of mental health disorders; a combination of genetics and the environment.

OT Skill Olympics | Fine and Gross Motor Skill Building Games

Children love games and competition, and parents love when their children are active and engaged with their siblings and friends. What better way to combine social skills, turn-taking, and fine and gross motor skills than with new creative activities? Below are a few new ideas to try incorporating with your family before the summer is over. Who will win the “gold” wheelbarrow racemedal at your OT Skill Olympics?

These activities help to address several occupational therapy skills, such as: motor planning, body awareness, hand-eye coordination, trunk control, grasping, and balance.

1. Dizzy bat baseball: The batter-up places his forehead onto the baseball bat and spins around in circles with the baseball bat on the ground and hands wrapped around the neck of the bat (approximately 10 spins). After the batter is done spinning, the pitcher pitches the ball like in a typical baseball game, and the batter runs his bases.

The challenge: to maintain balance and eye-hand coordination after making yourself dizzy!

2. Ping-pong ball races: Each player has a spoon and a ping-pong ball. They players can create many variations. For instance, players could walk across a balance beam while holding the spoon/ping-pong ball; set-up several cones or markers, and weave between the cones; or skip/gallop/bunny hop from one end of the room to the other while holding the spoon/ping-pong ball. The players could race one another or time one another using a stop watch.

The challenge: to keep the ping-pong ball on top of the spoon the entire time, holding the spoon with only one hand if possible.

3. Hula-hoop “ring of fire”: This activity should be done inside where lots of pillows and blankets can be used to jump onto. One or two players hold the hula hoop a few inches over the pillows/blankets, and another player must “dive” through the “ring of fire” onto the pile of pillows/blankets. The players can continue to raise the hula hoop a little bit higher each time; however, players should make sure to have their arms out like superman, so that the arms can help to protect the head and neck.

The challenge: to “dive” through the hula hoop without touching it with your body.

4. Relay races: Set-up two cones or markers to illustrate the starting line and the finish line. Have players choose a variety of different styles to get to the finish line: crab walks, bear walks, inch worms, wheelbarrow walking, or prone (on stomach) pulling self on scooter board or skate board.

5.Inch worms: start in the downward-facing dog yoga pose, with hands and feet on the ground, and hips and bottom raised in the air; next walk hands forward as far as they will go without falling, and then keep the hands where they are, and walk feet forwards to meet up with the hands.

The challenge: to maintain the proper body position the entire length of the course, from start to finish (e.g. crab walks: hips and bottom should be lifted off of the ground).

 Try a couple of these out and then leave a comment below with what worked best!

Oral-Motor and Feeding Difficulties in Young Children

All children are born hard-wired to eat. However, some children with poor oral motor skills may present with many challenges while feeding. Some children may appear to be “messy eaters”, but in reality, they may not have the strength to successfully close their lips around a spoon. Other kids may tend to rush through meals, however their oral awareness may actually be reduced and they may not even be aware of how much food is actually in their mouths. Therefore mealtimes may Young Girls Is A Messy Eaterprove to be difficult and frustrating for children, and equally as stressful for mom and dad.

Oral Motor And Feeding Red Flags

  • Lack of oral-exploration with non-food items as an infant
  • Difficulties transitioning between different textures of foods
  • Weaknesses sucking, chewing, and swallowing
  • Frequent coughing and/or gagging when eating
  • Vomiting during or after meals
  • Refusal to eat certain textures of foods
  • Rigidity with diet
  • Avoidance of touch on face and around mouth
  • Loss of food and liquids when eating
  • Obvious preference for certain textures or flavors of foods
  • Increased congestion during and after meals
  • Grimacing/odd facial expressions when eating
  • Consistent wiping of hands and face during meals
  • Pocketing of food in cheeks, or residue observed after swallow
  • Irritability and anxiety during mealtime
  • Excessive drooling and lack of saliva management
  • Sudden refusal to eat previously tolerated foods
  • Excessive weight gain or loss

Oral-Motor Skill Improvement

Fortunately, there are also many activities you can easily incorporate at home to facilitate improvements with oral-motor skills.

  • Blowing activities (blow-pens, instruments, whistles, etc.) help to improve posture, breath control, lip rounding, and motor-planning skills.
  • Infant massage may also help to increase oral-awareness and facial tone.
  • Straws, sour candies, and bubbles may help with drooling.
  • Constantly exposing your child to a variety of new foods will help to avoid food jags, and increase their tolerance to different textures and tastes.

If you notice that your child presents with some of the above-mentioned characteristics and does not seem to be improving, it would be advantageous to speak with a Speech-Language Pathologist about your concerns.

 

Fandango With Kids: Tips For A Trip To the Movies

Summer is meant to be active, fun, and exhausting for children but sometimes the weather just won’t cooperate. What do you do on days when they can’t run outside, swim, or barbeque? You Fandango! Remember these words of wisdom for the best theater experience with your children.

 Top tips for a trip with kids to the movies

  1. Choose a very child friendly film. You can even look up the sensory friendly screenings in your area.Empty Movie Theater
  2. Consider bringing your own snacks, especially if your child has special dietary needs.
  3. Remember that you don’t have to stay for the entire movie. Your child may only be able to handle half, and that is OK.
  4. Bring another adult if your children need to be able to get up or go to the bathroom quickly. You may need an extra pair of helping hands.
  5. Bring headphones to reduce the sound if your child is sensitive to loud noises.
  6. Teach your child movie time rules before making the trip so he/she knows what is expected ahead of time. Bring a reward chart if that helps.
  7. Enjoy the show!

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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