Why Your Child Needs Play Time With You!

When days are over-scheduled, make sure to save at least 15 minutes a day to just play with your child. Teach your child that down time is just asParents Playing with Daughter important as organized activities and daily responsibilities. It also teaches work-life balance early on, so he can better handle the stresses of school and eventually a career.

TV and video games may seem like the only thing your child is interested in, but what they truly crave is your attention and genuine connection. Video games can’t compete with the feeling a child gets when he get to share a special object, or even just a special moment, with his parent.

Tell your child to pick out 1 special toy and bring it to you so you can play together. When you’re down on the floor, on his level, look in his eyes and express genuine interest in what you’re doing together. Let him lead playtime with his imagination and excite your child with your facial expressions, sounds and your own imaginative ideas.

Quick tips for one-on-one play time with your child:

  • Play at eye-level and use loving touch
  • Unplug the electronics and give undivided attention
  • Commit to 15-20 minutes per day
  • Follow the child’s lead and join in his/her themes
  • Stimulate his/her creativity by asking questions
  • Use simple objects that can easily change meaning (i.e. a cardboard box is a car, and then it’s a hat, etc.
  • Children today don’t use their imagination enough, something they need in order to develop creativity. Designating a daily play time has a multitude of positive effects for your family.

8 Benefits of daily play time:

  • Sense of security
  • Stronger bonds
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Frequent stress relief
  • Less risk-taking behaviors
  • Less attention-seeking behaviors
  • Better mood throughout the day
  • More cooperation with rules/directions

Try it out and have a great time. Please share with us what your favorite things are to do with your child during one-on-one time!

*North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Inc. (NSPT) intends for responses to the blogs to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; all content and answers to questions should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). Questions submitted to this blog are not guaranteed to receive responses. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by NSPT to people submitting questions. Always consult with your health professional first before initiating or changing any aspect of your treatment regimen.


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!


Encouraging Your Infant to Communicate

Promoting speech and language development from the start

Your infant may not be using words yet, but they are communicating in big ways! In fact, children begin to communicate long before they start talking. Eye gaze, crying, listening, facial expressions, gestures, turn-taking, and vocalizations are all foundations of speech and languageHappy Baby Talking To Mom. The first year of life is a critical time in language development as children learn the building blocks of communication. There are many things parents can do to help their child’s language skills blossom!

Tips to encourage your infant’s communication:

  1. Play with your baby! Face to face interaction with your child may be the most valuable tool you have. No high-priced toy or well-researched program can compare to the benefits your child will gain from face-to-face time with loved ones.
    For grown-ups, play is what we do after a long day of work. For children, however, play is their job! Play is the backdrop for child learning and developing. It provides opportunities to explore, problem- solve, learn cause -and -effect, and communicate. As you play with your child, follow their lead. Pause before jumping in to assist your child. Give them opportunities to ask for a favorite toy by placing it just out of reach. If something unexpected happens (e.g. a book falls off the table), pause to let your child react or communicate before fixing the problem.
  2. Reinforce your child’s communicative attempts by responding to and imitating their facial expressions, vocalizations and babbling. Maintain eye-contact as you imitate the sounds your child makes.
  3. Encourage your child to use different vowels and speech sounds such as “oo”, “ee”, “da”, “ba” or “ma”. Engage your child in sound play, pairing different sounds with silly actions. You might knock over a block and exclaim “uh oh!” or tickle your baby’s toes and say “do do!”
  4. Pair gestures with words to help convey meaning as you communicate with your child. For example, if your child wants to be picked up, you might reach your hands up high and say “up!’. Wave your hand as you say “bye bye!” Point to objects as you label them (e.g. “ball!” or “milk!”).
  5.  Encourage your child to imitate your actions. Play finger games such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “Wheels on the Bus”, and “Pat-A-Cake”. You might also play “Peek-A-Boo”, clap your hands, or blow kisses.
  6. Make environmental noises during play (e.g. “car says beep beep!” or “cow says moo moo!”). Encourage your child to imitate various sounds as they explore and play.
  7. Sing to your child! Songs are an excellent way to engage your child in a meaningful and language-rich context. Add gestures to your songs, and create anticipation as you vary your facial expressions and intonation. The repetition of a familiar song will provide opportunities for your child to anticipate and even join in!
  8. Narrate what is happening in the environment. Use simple language to describe actions and events to your child as they are happening (e.g. “Mommy is putting shoes on!” or “Mommy is washing your hands!”).
  9. Read to your child! Choose books with large and engaging pictures that are not too detailed. Point to and label various pictures (e.g. “ball!” or “cow…moo moo!”). Ask your child “What’s this?” and encourage them to name pictures. A young child may not be able to attend to a book for very long- that’s okay! Follow your child’s lead and don’t feel pressured to finish a whole book. Instead, focus on keeping literacy activities fun and engaging, and enjoy the few pages that your child reads.

Click here for even more tips to encourage speech and language development in your child.

What Will Happen During My Child’s Pediatric Therapy Visit?

Concerned Mother With BoySetting Straight Therapy Myths

If you, your pediatrician, your child’s teacher or someone else important in your child’s life just told you that your child would benefit from physical, occupational, or speech and language therapy services you are probably feeling a little overwhelmed and uncertain about what to expect.

Some questions you may have about your child’s therapy

  • Will they put my child on a couch and talk to him/her?
  • Will they attach electrodes to the affected area? Read more