During this time when all families are spending more time together at home, let’s look at some ways you can increase language throughout your day to promote your child’s development! Have you ever thought about how much language you can expose your child to just by narrating your daily activities? Whether your child is already talking or not there yet, they are absorbing all of that language and already building their vocabulary, language, and social skills.
Even if you regularly see a speech-language pathologist to gain support for your child’s language and speech development, the person who is interacting the most with your child is you! It’s important for you to build on these skills in the home environment everyday to really see them grow. We are going to discuss 3 main ways to increase language in your home: self-talk, parallel talk, and expansion.
Self-talk is when you narrate what YOU are doing in kid-friendly terms. Think of things that are part of your child’s daily routine: meals, bath time, getting dressed, play time, and more! Talk about those five senses of what you see, feel, hear, smell, and maybe even taste (especially during meal time).
During bath time: “Bubbles pop. Water splash. Soap on, rinse off. All done!”
Getting dressed: “I see a pink dress! Let’s put it on. First your head goes in, then arms. Now time for socks and shoes!"
Parallel talk is when you narrate what YOUR CHILD is doing, again in kid-friendly terms. A great time to use this strategy is while your child is playing! Play along with them while narrating their actions, and think about what they are seeing, touching, smelling, hearing, etc.
Playing with a train: “You have a blue train, the train goes ‘choo choo’! Ready, set, go train. You are pushing the train fast. Uh oh, crash! The train fell off the tracks.”
Expansion is building on what your child is saying little by little. If your child is talking, take what they said and add one more detail or expand to a more complete structure. It’s important to acknowledge their effort to engage with language!
Adding a detail: The child says “Car!” then you can reply with “Yes, red car!”
Adding structure: The child says “Car fast!” then you can reply with “Yes, the car goes fast!”
Using these strategies can help expose your child to more language every day! Some key things to remember are to build on your child’s interests and motivation, this is when they will be most engaged with you. Play is an important building block for all aspects of your child’s development, it’s fun to get on the ground and interact with them at their level. Lastly, remember that you don’t have to narrate your entire day like this, it’s important for your child to hear normal adult language as well.
Language can be easy and engaging in the home environment! Make the most of this time at home to connect with your child and family while having fun along the way. Stay safe, stay healthy.
Blog written by: Emily Dyer, MS, CF-SLP
This playdough recipe is a fun and functional way to introduce kids to tactile play, while also targeting fine motor skills and bilateral coordination. This recipe does not call for any stovetop work so kids can help with all steps of making it!
From an occupational therapy perspective, playdough is a great way to target kids’ fine motor skills in various ways including having them open the kool-aid packages, twist the cap on/off the oil bottle, and open the salt container. Also, having them stir the ingredients together is a great way to target bilateral coordination by having them hold the bowl with one hand and stir with their other hand.
From a speech therapy perspective you can practice your child's speech sounds while following directions. This recipe is also great for the child to practice sequencing. After the playdough is made then you can make it into various shapes that contain the target sound. For example, if your child is working on S then you could make a snake, snail, or smiley face.
If the mixture is too sticky add a little more flour and oil until the mixture is binding and no longer sticking to finger.
Once the dough is made the child can use cookie cutters to create various shapes, or they can practice their name by rolling pieces of the dough into letters!
Blog written by: Katie Voorhis, Occupational Therapy Student
Music can have endless benefits in everyday home life and in therapy! How can you incorporate more music into your daily life? Many articles support that singing and songs help with social, emotional, and cognitive development in children. This can also increase bonding within families and improve the parent-child connection. So let’s start with how to incorporate music into your child’s life.
Walking on a Treadmill
Some children may have difficulty coordinating steps while walking on the treadmill. The rhythm in music can help coordinate stepping so the child feels like they are walking down the hall or sidewalk instead of on a stationary treadmill.
Spotify has a really unique option that you can sort your playlist by BPM (beats per minute) so you can decide how fast you want your child’s steps to be! Simply search “Sort my Playlist” and click the playlist you’d like to sort. You can pick all your kiddos favorite songs and make walking therapeutic and fun! http://sortyourmusic.playlistmachinery.com/
Music is often used in the hospital intensive units for its calming effect it has on the children. It has been shown to reduce crying behaviors in infants and toddlers and improve concentration. In the home, try using music during nap times or other quiet times of the day. Not sure what music is right? Type into Google or your music app “calming music” and it’s that simple!
If you feel like you need something to break up your daily tasks, try music! Dance breaks can be incorporated in the home to give kids a fun mental break and redirect emotions. You can also use music as a timer, “When the music stops, we are going to do our next activity!”
When children are developing speech and language skills, singing songs can encourage this development! Music can be a great way to engage kids in tasks and promote more language.
Dancing can be incorporated for rhythmic movement. Play the game red light, green light while dancing to improve your child’s attention. Try teaching dance routines to help them work on sequencing and memory, think about simple ones like “I’m a Little Teapot”. Freeze dance can also be a fun way to test kids’ balance!
Music is a great engaging tool to use in both therapy and at home! These activities can help your child’s development in a fun and functional way. Have you tried other ways to use music in therapy or in everyday life? Comment below to share with us!
Blog written by: Erin Lemberger, Physical Therapy Student
Have you been looking for a fun heart shaped craft to do for Valentine’s Day? Look no further! This fun interactive activity is a great way to work on following directions, sequencing fine motor coordination, and visual motor skills. Keep reading below for instructions on how to make your own!
What you’ll need:
How to make the heart maze:
Step 1: Make a heart maze design with pencil on the cardboard (make sure the pencil outline is wide enough to fit a marble between the maze lines)
Step 2: Outline pencil maze with a marker
Step 3: Place hot glue in sections over the marker and start to place yarn or Wikki Stix on top of the hot glue
Step 4: Continue to put hot glue on the marker outline and finish placing the yarn on the hot glue until the heart design is finished
How to play:
Have the child place a marble at the opening of the heart. Have the child hold onto each side of the cardboard and tilt the cardboard back and forth until the marble reaches the center of the heart. This activity targets coordination on each side of the body and requires the child to control the force they’re using in order to get the marble to the center of the maze. If too much force is used the marble will roll over the yarn, and if not enough force is used the marble won’t move through the maze. If completing the maze with a marble is too challenging, try using a small bead!
Added tip: If you have the child draw the heart maze that also targets fine motor and drawing skills!
Inspiration for this craft from The Inspired Treehouse.
Blog written by: Katie Voorhis, Occupational Therapy Student
Are you shopping for children's shoes that need to fit with orthotics? Heather Willets, a certified pediatric orthotist, has listed some tips and suggestions to help find the perfect fit!
Shoe Brand Suggestions:
Boot Tips for AFOs & SMOs:
Boot Brand Suggestions:
Shoes for Extra Tiny Feet:
Helpful Online Resources:
EXAMPLE SHOE MODELS:
These have worked well for other children.
Works well with SMOs
Toddler size 10 – big kid 6 (toddler sizes 5-9 will be available Fall 2019)
Works well with AFOs and SMOs
Toddler sizes 7-11
Works well with orthotic inserts, may also work well with SMOs
Toddler size 5 – big kid 3
Works well with KAFOs, AFOs and SMOs
Toddler size 5 - big kid 9
Works well with KAFOs, AFOs, and SMOs
Works well with KAFOs, AFOs and SMOs
Works well with KAFOs, AFOs, and SMOs
Works will with AFOs and SMOs
Blog written by: Heather Willets, MPO, CPO
Certified Prosthetist-Orthotist, Pediatric-Focused
300 Exempla Circle
Lafayette, CO 80026
Rock climbing is a wonderful activity for individuals of all ages! It is a fun undertaking which works to improve a variety of core body functions. Just to list a few they include grip/shoulder/core/leg strength, endurance, sequencing, bilateral coordination, memory, problem solving, body and safety awareness! The list could go on and on… Rock climbing is like performing a puzzle, only with your body! Not only does it draw upon a mental request making someone attend to the task at hand, but it also promotes physical engagement and problem solving skills in order to ascend the wall.
Before we start climbing, there are a list of items that need to be “checked off” accordingly. Climbing is a partnership, it consists of a climber - the person ascending the wall, and a belayer - the person supporting on the ropes from the ground. The climber goes up the wall and the belayer makes sure that the climber stays safe. There is a great deal of motor planning and fine motor task in order to get into the harness, to tie all the knots safely, and to make sure that everything is connected properly. This does not only go for the climber but for the belayer as well!
Before you climb and after you check each other, you engage language skills to verbally communicate back and forth which ensures you are both on the same page:
Climber: "On belay?”
Belayer: “Belay’s on!”
Belayer: “Climb hard!”
Climbing is not just a sport or recreational pursuit, it is an art. A beautiful art that KidSPOT is so excited to share with you! So we ask you, are you on belay?
Blog written by: Ciara Mestaz, Physical Therapy Student
Every child is different, especially with their food preferences. We have come up with some suggestions to help your child enjoy healthy snacks and lunches that are easy for you to prepare!
Blog written by: Caitlin Kraft, OTD, OTR/L
Learning vocabulary and expanding language can happen throughout a child’s day! Using silly songs and descriptive words can help strengthen your child’s language at bathtime, meal times, and getting ready for the day. Language is fun! Keep your activities playful and avoid “quizzing”. Below are some easy tips you can incorporate within daily activities.
Getting Ready in the Morning:
Label and describe clothing as your child gets dressed.
Make silly sounds for bath toys
Describe sensory qualities of the food
Looking for more tips to encourage language development? Download "Beginning with Babble" from wherever you get your apps. It’s a free and informative resource full of great ideas to expand language for children ages 0-4.
Blog written by: Katie Bode, Speech Therapy Student
Who is getting ready for back-to-school? Here are some tips to help ease your child’s transition from summer to school year routine.
Change your summer schedules to match your school year schedule now! An abrupt change in your schedule can sometimes be uncomfortable. Make the transition as easy as possible (without pressure) by working out all the kinks now before it’s too late!
Take some time to talk with your child about their feelings around school starting. Are they excited, sad, and/or nervous? If so, what about? Do they know their teacher and/or have the opportunity to meet their teacher before school starts? Will they be taking the bus this year and/or changing their previous routine from last year? This can help your child process their emotions before experiencing the sudden change.
Make going back to school exciting! If your child is feeling nervous or upset about school, create opportunities to build the excitement of going back! For example, go shopping and buy some new and fun school supplies. Or, go grocery shopping and pick out some new and healthy snack/lunch options that they are excited to eat and share with friends!
Think about the most difficult part of your routine- is it getting up and ready to go to school? Is it eating lunch? Is it homework? Is it remembering morning routine? Brainstorm with your child about why these tasks are hard and problem solve some strategies together to help make these tasks easier. Perhaps a checklist or visual schedule could help your child with routine.
Visit a nearby playground and/or your school’s playground before school starts! This can not only increase the excitement around starting school, but it can also help ease any anxiety around new play structures while also building confidence to explore! Bring a school friend along to explore equipment while building social play skills.
Blog written by: Alex Burg, Student Occupational Therapist
Create poses that focus on something your child is excited about. If they like letters you can make your body into letter shapes, if they like animals structure the yoga around animal breaths and movements…etc. It doesn’t matter if it is a traditional yoga pose or not the purpose of yoga for many children is to focus on breathing, moving their body, and calming their mind.
Here are some ideas to use at home with your child: Start by focusing on breathing. Place hands on belly while seated or a small stuffed animal on belly while lying down take 5 deep breaths and watch as your stomach goes in and out slowly while you breath. Next start to move your body, this can include traditional yoga poses, dancing with music, animal walks, or a creation of your own.
Depending on the energy level of your child yoga can either be used to increase energy through movement exercises or used to help calm your child through more relaxation poses. Finish the class with a little rest-this is usually the hardest part of yoga for adults and children so allow your child to move on their mat as they need but have them stay lying down and quiet for a few minutes/seconds depending on your child. This is a nice time to provide your child with a little foot or hand massage too to help them relax.
Check out these yoga resources for additional ideas:
Written By: Caitlin Kraft, OTD