Home Can Be Fun!
- 24 February 2020
- Posted by: CDC
- Category: Parent Tips,
Having a long break from the regular routine is like having a long summer holiday. No school, different routines and round-the-clock care; parents of children with learning differences are faced with their biggest challenge. It is especially hard when the activities that your child, or even your family, can do become very limited, such as in our current situation. Parents can find it as difficult to cope as their children.
Here are three things that you can try to do while you are stuck at home, to support your child. It is possible to both look after their needs and make the time a bit more manageable.
- KEEP THE ROUTINE GOING
Consistency and structure provide security. Change of routines and rituals can be difficult for children and they might need help to manage alterations to their daily routine. Your child may be missing some school time, sports classes, or playground time. Try to keep as many of the regular activities as possible. then set out a daily schedule and put routines in place, such as mealtimes, bedtime and bath time etc. You can include some quiet time, creative time, music time and even movement time. Sticking to the routines should not be exhausting to your child or yourself. It is important to understand that each child is unique; choosing activities for your child requires consideration, not only of their difficulties, but of their own individual tastes.
Visual schedules are a simple way to help your child to know what to expect, and when. You can use pictures, words or both. Putting the activities in a timeline shows what happens next or later. These schedules can be a powerful tool for keeping your child organised, providing independence, and reducing meltdowns, for instance.
These schedules provide an easy-to-understand way for children to see changes in their routine. For example, if you want to swap bath time and storytime, you simply move the order of the pictures on the schedule. Once school is back, it’s easy for you to show your child that the routine is back to normal by moving the pictures again and talking them through it!
This prepares your child to get back to the regular routine by making the transitions clear and predictable.
- KEEP MOVING
Children need to move and should be encouraged to move as much as possible, when it is appropriate! Try to incorporate physical activity into your child’s day as much as you can. You can make it part of your child’s daily routine and family activities.
Here are some indoor activities we have prepared for the home programmes in the past three weeks. Practise with your child daily to provide quality support for their overall development.
Children love music. To brush up on listening skills and attention, try playing ’Freeze!’. The rules are simple: dance when the music plays and when the designated DJ stops the music, everyone freezes. Children get to practise how to coordinate their body with their senses. You can spice it up by encouraging your child to imitate different poses when they freeze, such as a star, a bunny, or simply copying you. This is great for motor planning, building strong muscles and body awareness. By maintaining poses like the dog pose children can gain increased body flexibility and benefit from the calming effect caused by joint compression. Do these poses with your child and see who can hold them the longest!
Crawling like a turtle
Make use of the resources you have at home. Line up some chairs and have your child crawl under them like a turtle, a tiger or their favourite animal.
This is a weight-bearing exercise that helps strengthen your child’s whole body and helps with muscle tone and coordination. It also increases their body awareness and provides a calming effect as it gives joint compression.
You can start with your child in a prone position and try to get them to push up on their palms (lying on their tummy, supporting their upper body by extending their arms).
Then, gradually move into a crawling position (four-point kneeling).
If you want to make it more fun for your child, you may put some toys that they like under each chair to motivate them and make the ‘trail’ easier to follow.
- SHARE THE ‘CHORES’
We all understand the struggle to work out creative ways to teach our child responsibility and the importance of helping out around the house. ‘Chores’ can actually offer great therapeutic benefit to your child as well as improving their independence and self-help skills. Here are a few household tasks that you can tailor to your child’s needs.
Wiping the table
This is a great way to address crossing the midline and shoulder stability. You can also have your little one practise how to wipe the table by moving the towel. Encourage them to move in vertical, horizontal or circular motions. This is a fundamental skill needed before young children are able to write. Some children do not like holding on a wet towel, so offer them a dry one.
For those children who need a lot of sensory input, carrying around heavy objects such as laundry baskets, grocery bags or pillows can give them a lot of proprioceptive input. Many children find proprioceptive input calming and regulating.
By simply picking dirty clothes off the floor, following directions and sorting skills are addressed. Pushing or carrying a laundry basket to and from the washing machine can help give proprioceptive input as well as work on bilateral coordination, shoulder stability and grip strength.
For those who can manage it, folding helps improve shoulder, wrist and hand development. Your child may also want to help with matching those socks, which improves visual and sorting/matching skills. Sequencing of a multiple-step task can be addressed by having your child actually use the washing machine.
For children who may struggle in dealing with different textures, soft clothes and towels tend to be a little easier to handle. It’s good for them to enjoy textures that don’t set them on edge.
Clearing up toys
Playing with, and manipulating, toys is beneficial to hand and grasp development and so is clearing them up. Often, taking apart toys such as blocks, puzzles and games requires additional fine-motor strength. Having designated spots for toys helps with sorting and children can also learn to follow directions e.g. “put the cars in the red box”.
Whether you use a dusting wand or cloth, this activity can promote crossing the midline, while increasing the stability of the shoulder and elbow. It can also be a great visual-scanning activity by helping children learn that they have to look across an entire table or shelf to make sure the dust is gone. The best way to practise this is by using both hands.
Supporting your child to achieve little victories by helping grown-ups, can go a long way to help them build the motivation they need to accomplish bigger tasks!