"Our therapist has recommended some daily activities to help our child. I know it needs to be a priority, but how on earth do we fit anything extra into our family’s hectic schedule?"
As a parent of kids who have needed to follow several home programmes, as well as a therapist, I feel very familiar with just how challenging this can be. At one point there we were working on a strengthening programme with one child and an articulation programme with another. Our family has had Speech Therapy, Physio and Occupational Therapy goals to work on at different times with each of our children. In my experience there are lots of ways to tackle this and. Like many things, it’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. A big determining factor is the nature of the therapy goal and the tasks themselves, then you’ve got variable like parenting style, your child’s personality, resources/equipment available, other children’s needs, etc, etc. Some of the options below may work for you with a bit of tweaking……
- TEACHABLE MOMENTS – this is about looking for ways to build therapy goals into your regular daily routines. This can work well for families who have regular routines! I think this is the way to go for general developmental areas, eg muscle tone, bilateral coordination – where you might get your child to bear walk from their bedroom to breakfast each morning to develop muscle tone, and have some fun 2-handed games with the bubbles in the bath each night to work on bilateral coordination.
- SCHEDULED PRACTICE TIME – This worked best for our family! I found if I didn’t set a specific time it just didn’t happen. It also works well when you need to do specific, prescribed activities, eg literacy tasks, specific handwriting activities.
- SETTING UP A BOX OF ACTIVITIES AND LETTING YOUR CHILD GO FOR IT. This can be brilliant! Work on finger strength, dexterity, pencil skills, sensory processing, oral motor activities can all be achieved by your child with minimal support if you set them up with fun activities. This is part of the reason we’ve made up the therapy kits you can see on the Skillbuilders website. These kits give parents (and teachers) a simple, practical option for helping kids develop specific skills. They provide a good starting point that’s easy to build on.
- A COMBINATION OF ANY OF THE ABOVE. Sometimes you need a combination, eg when you’re working on specific muscle stretches along with general work on muscle tone, and sometimes you just need a change of approach to re-charge your enthusiasm.
A point on maintaining enthusiasm…..
For yourself – Ask yourself – “What will it look like when my child has sorted out this developmental glitch?” eg Toby will be able to use scissors as well as his peers, then break this skill down into VERY observable steps so that you can really see his progress and not be vague about it. This will help you be clear about his progress and this motivates you to keep up your efforts.
For your child – FUN FUN FUN – try really hard to incorporate fun at every opportunity. Kids will practice the activities spontaneously if they enjoy them.