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How to Build a Positive Relationship with your Child’s Teacher | Tips from Moms and Teachers

As a mother of 3 children, and having been a teacher myself for many years before having my own kids, I find it interesting to be on “the other end” ofthe parent/teacher relationship. So how does a parent build that positive relationship with teachers? Here are a few tips that I picked up along the way as both a parent and a teacher.

How to Build a Positive Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher:

  • Start out right. Send an email a week or two into the school year outlining the positives you have seen from your child. Simply write something along the lines of, “I am really impressed with how Jacob came home yesterday knowing all of the planets!”. This simple stmom and teacher with boyep will open up lines of communication with the teacher early on, while at the same time showing the teacher that you are paying attention to what is going on at school and that you care.
  • Ask the teacher what you can do to help! Is there something you can volunteer for in the classroom? Are there activities you can help organize? Are there donations you can make to optimize the room? How can you make life easier for the teacher? By offering your services and time, you are showing the teacher that you truly care about helping her have an easier year.
  • Do not overwhelm the teacher! It is good to make sure your child’s teacher is well versed in everything they NEED to know about your child. But you must also give them space. It can become hard for a teacher to prepare, learn and teach your child if you are contacting them every day telling them what to do or not do. You may even be surprised when they are able to help your child in innovative ways that you never thought were possible before!
  • Show appreciation. Everybody likes to know they are appreciated, and teachers are no exception. You don’t have to break the bank buying them tons of gifts. However, teachers do not get paid as much as they should, and they do not just work on your child’s education only during school hours. Most work at nights and on weekends in order to complete everything they need! So yes, it is nice to get them a little something during the holiday break and at the end of the year. It is even nicer if you have your child draw them a picture or write them a letter to show appreciation. This, of course, can be done throughout the year!
  • Be prepared in case something goes wrong. In most cases, there will be something that you are unhappy with at school. You must speak up right away. Do not wait to say something, or just hope that the problem will go away on its own. Explain to the teacher that you would like to problem solve with her/him and your child all together. This way you aren’t putting all the pressure on just the teacher. If you child has certain special needs or has his/her own education plan, read this blog on how to further help: https://nspt4kids.wpengine.com/therapy/start-the-school-year-out-right/ .

Tips from Teachers on How to Make The Year Successful For Your Child:

Preschool Tips | By: Mrs. Alexandra Feiger, 2-3yr old Preschool Teacher at the Jewish Community Center of Chicago

  • Communication is key when sending your child to preschool. If there is something that you feel is important for us to know about your child, let us know right away. Talking with your child’s teacher about your child’s needs will help the teacher have a better understanding of who your child is and how to make sure the environment is set up in a way that will allow your child learn and feel comfortable.
  • When both parents are working, it is common for babysitters to drop off or pick up the child from school. This means that you finding out how and what your child did in school that day is based on what you hear from your 2 year old or the babysitter. If you are concerned that you are not getting enough information, or you would just like to hear from the teacher yourself how your child’s day went, the best thing to do is call or email the teacher. It is never a bother for us; in fact, we encourage parents to stay updated with what their child is learning and doing in school so they can talk about it at home and participate in the child’s learning.

Elementary School Tips | By: Mrs. Jennifer Cohn, 3rd Grade Teacher at Woodland Elementary East in Gales Lake

  • Teach kids to be responsible for their own actions and hold them accountable. So many parents continue to do things for their kids instead of teaching them to be in charge of themselves. I ask parents to check homework, but also to have their child do it him/herself and pack his/her backpack him/herself.
  • Parents should support their kids, yet let them learn how to be a successful student on their own. They will benefit in the long run and be proud of themselves when they have accomplished their goals on their own.

Middle School Tips | By: Mrs. Suzanne Mishkin, 7th Grade Special Education Teacher at McCracken Middle School in Skokie

  • Find out who your child’s advisor is before school begins. This is most often the point person for questions that are not related to a specific class, and knowing who it is will help both you and your child stay afloat of information for the whole year.
  • Parents should find out how teachers post assignments and where they can see their child’s grades. This information should be given out at Back-to-School Night. If it wasn’t, just ask!
  • Ask to see your child’s assignment book. Most teachers take care to have the students write assignments down in their assignment book each day, so you can learn a lot by looking.
  • Let the school know immediately about any changes that could affect the child, such as changes in medication levels. It is not uncommon for children in this age group to change medication or medication dosages from time to time due to hormone changes, and any information you can give the schools would be helpful.

Finally, remember that a teacher’s success is based on your child’s success. The teacher wants the best for your child, and as long as you and the teacher are working towards the same goals and have a positive relationship, you are both bound to provide your child with a great year!

Breakfast for a Better Kid and Day!

Breakfast often gets skipped in the haste of the typical morning. Mom and dad are getting themselves ready, getting the kids ready, and tying up loose ends around the house. Many people report not having an appetite in the morning. Often, this is caused by over-eating in the later part of the day. family breakfastKids will model their parents, so think about what example you may be setting for your kids. In any case, the fact is, this morning a lot of kids woke up late and got breakfast at a fast food drive thru or ate nothing at all.

Studies show that kids who eat breakfast do better on tests in school. Nourishment in the morning provides brain fuel needed for concentration and energy. Even behavior and general attitude is better. Have you been around a hungry, tired kid lately? Not so fun and probably not the kid who’s skipping to the head of the class, so to speak.

Not only do kids who eat breakfast do better in school, but kids who eat breakfast tend to have healthier BMIs. It’s hard to say exactly why this is, but likely it has at least something to do with kids having less energy during the day to be active, and then over-eating later in the day. Eating in a balanced way throughout the day will prevent over-eating later, and leave room for a good appetite in the morning.

Here are some tips for a breakfast for a better kid:

  1. Change your morning so that breakfast is a requirement. Would you let your kids go to school in their pajamas? Just like getting dressed is a morning requirement, eating breakfast should be too. Carve that time into the morning, for yourself and your kids. Remember you are the most important role model in shaping their eating habits.
  2. Make breakfast count. Breakfast is just as important as lunch or dinner in terms of creating a complete, healthy meal. Strive for the healthy plate model at breakfast, which is to include whole grains, a protein source, and plenty of fruits and veggies. Vegetables are not typically the stars of the breakfast show, but try things like homemade hash browns or omelets with a variety of veggies. Potato pancakes are usually a hit if you have time to make them.
  3. Something is better than nothing. I would really recommend avoiding the fast food drive thru breakfast. Usually this isn’t going to be the healthiest food, but also, eating on the run results in poor digestion and tummy aches.If on occasion, you are late and have to do breakfast in the car, try a trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, and cereal. Another option would be a Clif ™ bar or Larabar ™ with a string cheese.
  4. Use the weekend to make breakfast a special meal for your family. The weekend breakfast can be such a fun family (and friends) tradition. Eating breakfast at home gives kids another chance to have a family meal at the table, which builds good habits, communication skills, and relationships. Breakfast foods tend to be popular with kids, and can be made with a healthy spin.

Examples of a Better Breakfast for Children:

  • Multigrain pancakes with blueberries and scrambled eggs. Try a maple-agave syrup blend (it’s less expensive than 100% maple syrup but still contains whole ingredients instead of high fructose corn syrup). Another healthy topping is homemade strawberry-rhubarb syrup which you can make by simmering chopped rhubarb and strawberries with a few tablespoons of water.
  • Granola, fruit, and yogurt parfait. Make it seasonal by stirring in pumpkin spice granola or farmers market fruit. Make it a winner by setting bowls of yogurt at the kids’ places at the table, and allow them to pick from an array of mix-ins on the table that they can spoon in themselves.
  • Organic bacon or sausage, whole grain English muffin spread with fruit preserves.
  • Whole grain toast, egg scramble or omelet with any of the following: chopped peppers, spinach, broccoli, peas, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes virtually any vegetable, black beans, cheese.
  • Oatmeal, berries, and nut butter mixed in. Top with homemade coconut whipped cream, which can be made by whipping canned coconut milk with beaters on high until foaming and thick.

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School Lunchbox Meal Ideas

It’s here- the new school year! Bringing lunch from home is great if it is feasible for your family. It can be tricky coming up with school lunchbox ideas that include variety, foods your kids will eat, and foods that will stay good until lunchtime. I recommend getting a lunchbox that can Child with lunchboxaccommodate a refrigerated pack to keep certain foods cold.

Here are 5 ideas, one for each day of the week, that are dietitian approved:

Sandwich Lunchbox

You can’t go wrong with the tried and true staple.

  • Whole grain or 100% whole w­­­heat bread, nitrate- and nitrite-free lunchmeat, real cheese (steer clear of the heavily processed ones that come individually plastic-wrapped), lettuce, tomato, mustard.
  • 2 mini oranges
  • Whole wheat pretzels

Vegetarian Tortilla Wrap Lunchbox

Although it’s vegetarian, it’s not lacking in protein.

  • Use your kid’s favorite tortilla wrap (spinach, whole wheat, etc), and fill it with hummus or pureed black beans or lentils, sliced red and green peppers, and shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese.
  • To make a bean puree:  Saute ½ of a white or yellow onion in olive oil in a small skillet. Add pre-cooked lentils, beans, or canned beans and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Cool after cooking, and stir in chopped cilantro and a little of your favorite salsa. Puree or fork mash the mixture.
  • Tortilla chips
  • Grapes

Lettuce Wrap Lunchbox

Kids like assembling their own foods, and although this might seem outside of the norm in terms of “kid food”, they are delicious.

  • 3 pieces of whole romaine lettuce leaves (approx 6” long ), 3 strips of baked, grilled, or otherwise cooked chicken or steak, thinly sliced carrots, and a mini Tupperware container of Asian salad dressing (be aware that many Asian dressings contain peanuts. If your school is 100% peanut-free, try French or Catalina dressing instead).
  • Clif Z bar or Larabar
  • Dried cranberries
  • Milk

Bagel, Nut Butter, and Jelly Lunchbox

 Again, you can’t go wrong with this kid favorite.

  • Use a whole grain bagel or a whole wheat English muffin. If your school is peanut-free, instead of peanut butter, try sunflower seed butter, almond butter or cashew butter. Add your kid’s favorite jelly (I recommend organic preserves that have less sugar- check at the farmers market too), and even a little drizzle of honey.
  • Carrot sticks
  • Whole grain Goldfish crackers
  • Milk

Cracker and Cheese Assortment

With the right sides, this does make a good meal.

  • Whole grain woven wheat crackers (i.e. Triscuits)
  • Brown rice cake or rice crackers
  • Whole grain round crackers
  • Two types of cheeses, sliced into 2”x2” squares, such as cheddar, swiss, muenster, or whatever you have in the house.
  • Shelled edamame
  • Banana

Each of the above meals includes (at minimum) a source of protein, a whole grain, a fruit, a vegetable, and a dairy serving. Give your child’s lunch experience a special touch by including a little note from you or dad, or put a sticker on one of the baggies or containers. And remember, fueling your child’s body and brain with healthy foods before and during school promotes better learning and school performance.

*Tip to encourage your child to eat the above lunchbox meals:  Share these meal ideas with your child’s friends’ parents. Kids tend to eat better in social settings where they see other kids eating and trying different things.

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The Benefits of Increasing Therapy Over the Summer

Summer is the time of the year when children engage in more free play and physical activity. Therefore, summer is the perfect time of the year to improve upon skills that children need in order to be active, successful, and independent children!Little girl jumping a rope

Here are some of the best reasons to consider starting therapy or increasing the number of therapy sessions for your child over the summer:

Maintain and improve skills for school – Since school is out for the summer, it is important that children do not lose the fine motor, problem-solving, planning, and organizational skills (and more) that are necessary to be productive students at school. Although summertime is a great time to provide opportunity for free play, it may create academic issues for your child once school starts back up if he or she does not engage in challenging tasks  during their 3 month break from school.

Practice physical activities, such as bike riding, climbing, and jumping rope – During the summer, children are often playing outside for hours on end. It may become noticeable that your child is not keeping up with their peers. Activities with which you may notice some difficulty are often when children have to coordinate their arms and legs, such as jumping jacks, climbing the jungle gym, and learning to ride a 2-wheeler. By participating in therapy over the summer, therapists can address these specific concerns in order to help your child stay up to speed with their friends while performing these activities.

More availability over the summer – Since your children are out of school for the summer, they may have a lot more time and availability during the day to participate in more therapy. Summer camp and extra-curricular activities often only take up part of the day, so there may be more times you are available to schedule therapy appointments. Furthermore, although camp and extra-curricular activities are great options for staying active, they do not necessarily offer the same therapeutic benefits as therapy.

Provides structure to their day– Oftentimes, summer can be a season of unstructured play time in which children can do anything they would like. Sometimes the choices are so overwhelming that this can often lead to hours of playing video games, watching TV, and other sedentary activities. Therapy can provide structure to your child’s day to make them feel like they are being productive by spending their time doing valuable tasks.

Opportunity for peer interaction outside of school – Once school is over for the summer, some children may only spend their time with the same friends every day. Therapy sessions can provide the opportunity to make more friends in the clinic and learn how to engage in social situations with other people.

These are just a few of the many benefits that therapy can provide to your child over the summer! By making your child more actively engaged in goal-directed activities, you are setting your child up to be productive students the following school year and active children during the summer!

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How to Determine if a Child Has Executive Functioning Difficulties | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric neuropsychologist explains ways to tell if a child struggles with executive functioning.  Click here to download a FREE checklist on Executive Functioning Signs by age!

In this video you will learn:

  • What factors the child struggles with daily
  • How executive functioning issues start at home
  • What a child needs help with when they suffer from executive functioning

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and today I’m sitting here with Dr. Greg Stasi, a Pediatric
Neuropsychologist. Doctor, can you give us some tips on how to identify if
a child needs help with executive functioning?

Dr. Greg: Of course. When we talk about executive functioning, we’re
talking about a child who struggles with organization, initiation on tasks,
problem solving, cognitive flexibility. This is a child where the morning
routine is going to be extremely difficult. They can’t follow through on
tasks. The parent has to follow through constantly to get them out the door
in the morning. It’s a child who starts projects at the last minute,
Sunday evening, when a project is due Monday morning. If we’re seeing the
child not be able to develop strategies on how to complete homework
assignments and if the child gets frustrated easily, those are all symptoms
and characteristics of what we’d expect in a child with an executive
functioning issue.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much, and thank you to our viewers.
And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

Inclusion: How to Make it Work

What is Inclusion?

Inclusion has been a common school term for decades.  It is a philosophy and strategy in which students with special needs spend most or all of their time with non-disabled peers, rather than being educated in separate classrooms or schools.

When students are part of a full inclusion program, they receive additional academic assistance or instruction in the general education classroom, whenever possible. Happy child in school More commonly, though, schools provide education to the students in a variety of degrees from separated classrooms to mainstreaming (general education classes for less than half the day and usually for less academically rigorous classes such as PE, art, music, story time, etc), to inclusion, and determine the setting that would most likely help the students achieve their individualized educational goals.  Specialized services such as speech, OT, PT, and social work are provided outside the regular classroom, but can also be inclusive and have peers from the regular education classroom participate with them, when appropriate.

When I worked as a school social worker, I often created “friendship groups” where I would have three or four peers from the classroom join the child with special needs each week.  The regular education students would rotate from a list of all classmates whose parents gave consent.  Kids would beg to participate in these groups which often helped the regular education peers as much as the “targeted” student.  It was a positive experience for all because a trained professional facilitated the group as they navigated social skills, assertiveness training, and conflict resolution with small group instruction, role play, games, social stories, etc.  The peers from the regular education classroom had a fun time with their peer whom they thought could not keep up with them on the playground during recess and would often subsequently ask the child to join them.  I often recommend this type of group for children who have difficulty integrating with their peers.

Is Inclusion Right for Your Child?

Before deciding whether inclusion is right for your child, remember that schools are legislated to provide the least restrictive environment (LRE) for the child that will meet the child’s needs and Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  The child’s plan should indeed be individualized and always have the child’s best interest in mind.  A child with severe behavioral problems or severe sensory processing deficits may negatively impact the classroom setting within the regular education classroom and be disruptive, which would negatively impact the learning environment as well as friendships.  A child who is delayed in learning academic skills or who has behavioral or emotional struggles may need individualized instruction or small group instruction in order to make appropriate gains.  Placing that child strictly in a regular education classroom may create added anxiety for the child and may increase negative behaviors because of heightened stimulation in the larger regular education setting.  A child with these struggles may initially benefit from integrating with same-age peers in classes such as physical education, art, music, library, or computers with an aide present to help the child.

Best Practice for Inclusion Success

To obtain the optimal success rates of including the child within the regular education classroom, the school setting should provide:

  • tailored individualized education programs (IEPs)
  • adequate support and services for the student
  • diversity training and professional development for all educators working with the child
  • weekly planning times for all teachers on the child’s team to collaborate and create the optimal learning environment for the child and regular education peers
  • smaller class sizes, depending on the student’s special needs
  • training in cooperative learning, peer mentoring, and curriculum adaptation to address the child’s needs
  • funding to develop appropriate programs to continue to meet these needs
  • most importantly, ongoing communication with the child’s support team (educators, specialists, parents, and administrative officers) will provide the most appropriate programming to meet the child’s individualized academic, social, and behavioral needs.

To help your child with social skills, you will LOVE this blog about ipad and iphone apps for teaching social skills 

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10 Signs in the Classroom Suggesting a Student May Benefit from Occupational Therapy

A teacher’s job can become very hectic when trying to help each child with their own specific challenges. An occupational therapist (ot) can be an excellent resource and adjunct to helping students overcome challenges and excel in the classroom. Here are a few tips to help a teacher identify if a child could benefit from an occupational therapy evaluation and treatment. (This is by no means a complete list of behaviors or challenges in the classroom that an OT can help with.)kids at circle time laying

10 Signs A Child Needs OT:

  1. The child is a bystander or observer on the playground and rarely tries out the equipment independently.
  2. The child has poor posture while sitting in a chair at the table and during situations of unsupported sitting, for example, during circle time the child is observed to roll or move around a lot on the floor.
  3. The child has a difficult time walking in line or being close to other children. The child appears to be irritated by touch from other people but frequently touches things themselves.
  4. The child frequently chooses the same familiar game or activity and avoids learning new motor activities or games.
  5. The child avoids fine motor activities. They have difficulty manipulating small objects, using scissors, demonstrate an abnormal pencil grip, or their hand tires easily during fine motor tasks. The child may press too hard or too light on the paper when writing.
  6. The child seems to have more difficulty than peers putting on their coat, putting on and tying shoes, and buttoning.
  7. The child has trouble putting together puzzles or finding a specific object in the classroom.
  8. The child frequently runs into things in the classroom, falls to the floor, or purposely crashes into things or people.
  9. The child has more trouble than their peers writing in their assignment notebook, keeping their desk and folders organized, and turning in assignments on time.
  10. The child takes excessive risks and frequently demonstrates decreased safety awareness.

If you see any of these behaviors or characteristics in the kids you know, every-day life may be more difficult to get through for them than for other children, and is going to affect their success in school. Help these kids by seeking out an occupational therapist for techniques and strategies to improve their academic success and overall daily performance. Also, it is important to note that many children will exhibit the above behaviors and may or may not require Occupational Therapy (OT) intervention therefore it is important to consult with an OT first.

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When it’s more than a case of “The Mondays”: Motivating your Child when School Is Challenging

“I hate school, I’m never going back!” “I can’t do it!” “ I’m not smart like the other kids.” “My teacher hates me.”

If you’ve heard these comments from your child, you are not alone. Children with learning differences in particular are at risk for school burn-out. girl hates schoolThe work is challenging and the battle seems mostly up-hill; once he or she masters one skill, the next, more difficult lesson poses yet another daunting challenge. You can’t take your child out of school, but here are some ideas to make the time they spend there a bit more relaxed and motivating.

5 Steps To  Motivating Your Child In School:

  1. Appeal to your child’s sense of fun!
    1. Surprises: Try to do something at least once a week to remind your child that you care at school. This can be a notecard with an interesting fact tucked in his pencil holder, a note that says you love him, or some words of encouragement in his Spelling folder on the day of a test.
    2. Extra-curricular Activities: Finding the activity that suits your child’s interests and abilities can foster a connection to a teacher and other students. Be supportive and positive in letting your son or daughter choose one activity that appeals to him or her!
  2. Talk it Out: Get out of the one-word answer rut by asking a different question each day. You can ask questions such as:
    1. What is something that you did really well today?
    2. Who made you laugh today and why?
    3.  What did you make in Art class?
    4. What songs did you sing/play in Music?
    5. If it was a bad day you can ask: What can you do differently to make tomorrow better?
  3. Set Realistic Goals: Give your child practice setting goals by making a specific plan each week for what they can do to improve the school experience.
    1. The child should be involved in the process, rather than having you tell him what he needs to do.
    2. Be sure that the goals you set together will be met with success by creating the goal at or just above the child’s current ability level. For example, if your child got 60% correct on his last math test because he didn’t study, you could set a goal that he will get 70% on the next one and make a plan study one hour in advance of the next test.
    3. If he meets his goal, recognize that at dinner for the whole family or find another way to reward his efforts.
  4. Break it Down: There is a mountain of research since Hermann Ebbinghaus’ 1885 discovery that spacing learning out over multiple practice opportunities results in better retention and recall than cramming. If your child is going to study for an hour this week, help him break it down into smaller, more focused sessions that will take place throughout the week. Recognize and praise him as he follows the plan.
  5. Positive reinforcement works: Rather than punish your child for mistakes, and further contributing to his sense of failure, look for progress everywhere, including in subjects you may not find as important. If your child sees that you recognize his effort in his favorite subject, and he gets a reward for doing well where he can, this is an opportunity to gradually begin to reward more difficult areas. Depending on your child’s age, rewards can be anything from a certificate of recognition to a formal plan with monetary, tangible, or other meaningful rewards such as special privileges. Consistency is the key with reinforcement systems; be sure to seek the help of a trained professional if your child has substantial barriers to learning.

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5 Ways to Work on Endurance for Handwriting

Handwriting involves many components, such as visual motor skills, fine motor skills, bilateral skills (stabilizing the paper and manipulating a pencil),  hand strength, grasping, and executive functioning (planning, preparing, organizing). Oftentimes, a child will greatly improve the sizing, spacing, and legibility of his handwriting, but will still have girl practicing writingtrouble getting his thoughts onto paper. This may be due to decreased attention, decreased hand strength and endurance for fine motor tasks, or increased distractibility. Below are some strategies to work on creativity and independence for handwriting, particularly focusing on complete sentences and paragraphs, to help increase success at home and at school.

5 Steps To Work On Handwriting Strength:

  1. Write out the steps to a favorite board game: Have your child write out the rules and directions to a frequently played board game from memory. Make sure he uses complete thoughts and sentences, and that someone else would be able to play the game simply by reading the handwritten directions.
  2. Write out the directions to a favorite recipe: Have your child write out the ingredients and steps to a recipe from memory. In order to check his accuracy, make the recipe with your child, using only his directions. Then, your child will be able to “fill in the gaps” of his recipe to determine if he left out any important details. For an extra challenge, have your child write out the recipe on an index card to practice small, controlled handwriting and legibility.
  3. Create a story by looking at a picture: Help your child to find a picture from a storybook or off of the computer to use as the foundation of their own story. Make sure that he uses his own ideas, rather than the ideas and themes from the original storybook. Remind your child that there should be a title, a theme to the story, an opening sentence, and a closing sentence.
  4. Use a story starter: Provide your child with one or two sentences to work off of. For instance, “I am looking forward to summer vacation because ____, ____, and ____.” Or, “One activity I am really good at is ____ because ____, ____, and ____.” Or, “One day I went to the ice cream shop and…”. Make sure your child uses complete thoughts and sentences, rather than just filling in the blanks.
  5. Create an obstacle course: First, have your child walk around the house in order to brainstorm several activities and pieces of equipment he could use to develop his own obstacle course (e.g. dribble a basketball 5 times, log roll over a pile of pillows, and do 10 frog jumps down the hallway). Next, have your child write down his thoughts and ideas, including the equipment needed, and place the steps of the obstacle course in logical order. Lastly, have your child complete the obstacle course, as you read through the steps. This will help to find any missing directions in the obstacle course and add in any needed information or details.

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Sensory Strategies for Kids with ADHD

Sensory strategies are one of the most common and least invasive suggestions made to assist children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder  (ADHD) function more successfully in their day to day lives. Because of the increased awareness surrounding ADHD, it has become a popular topic for many adhd boyprofessionals. While this means that there is an ever-growing supply of research and increasing amount of resources for parents, teachers and medical professionals to reference; it also has the potential to be both overwhelming and confusing. Many of the professionals researching ADHD publish articles, books, and research papers with strategies they have found to be beneficial to children with ADHD. This has potential to be very informative and helpful but there is no unified terminology being used, and thus, the same suggestions are being made using different terms, creating a difficult system to navigate. Sensory strategies are included in some form in almost all approaches suggested for children with ADHD. Sensory strategies are also often referred to as “movement strategies,” or other similar titles, but provide the same suggestions and at their core are truly sensory strategies.

Sensory Strategies for kids with ADHD:

  • Allowing the child to take a 2-3 minute break every 10-15 minutes. This break should involve intense movement when possible, such as jumping jacks, pushups, jumping on a trampoline, etc. When intense movement is not appropriate, breaks may involve the student walking to the drinking fountain, getting up to sharpen his/her pencil and/or walking to the bathroom.
    • If an assigned task involves intense academic work, such as testing, lengthy projects or problem-solving assignments the child should be given the opportunity to take a longer break (approximately 10 minutes) to allow time for more intense physical exercise.
  • Provide a toy or item for the child to manipulate during solitary work. These items are often referred to as “fidgets,” and provide the child with an outlet to release their restlessness. Rather than continuously moving his/her body, the child can move his/her hands quietly in their lap or on their desk while manipulating the fidget.
  • Another way to incorporate physical work into settings where children are expected to be able to sit and attend to a task is to adapt the child’s seat. There are a variety of seating options available that involve the child working to maintain balance and an upright posture. Exercise balls are often provided in the classroom as an alternative to a standard chair, this allows the child to slightly move and requires him/her to use their core muscles to maintain seated. A T-stool is a flat, bench-like seat that is mounted on a single upright post. This provides similar sensory input to the child, without the possible temptations surrounding a ball. Rocking chairs have also been used both at a child’s desk and during circle time, and prevent much of the “disruptive” behaviors that teachers often observe during these quiet sitting periods of the day.
  • Gum is often not allowed in the school setting, but it can be an invaluable tool to a child with ADHD. Oral-motor input is something many children crave, hence why so many kids stick their pencils in their mouths or chew on their clothing. Providing gum to a child with ADHD provides them an outlet for their restlessness. The constant chewing/movement of the jaw and flavor options can act as an alerting stimuli as well as a grounding force, helping the child have the ability to better focus on the task at hand.

These sensory strategies can be implemented in the classroom, at home and in most other settings where a child is expected to be able to sit and attend to a task (church, Sunday school, music lessons, camp, etc.). Incorporating these strategies into particularly difficult parts of the day can also have an immense positive impact on the child; for example, incorporating physical exercise into transitional periods may lessen the stress that these times put on both the child and the adult. These sensory strategies are not strict rules to abide by, but are general guidelines to be expanded upon or adapted to fit each child’s individual needs.