A Child Who Moves, Is a Child Who Learns

 In Children's wellness, Fitness, Occupational Therapy

Research has shown that exercise, nutrition, and meaningful engagement are all part of a child’s overall success. Many parents, caregivers and educators may think that children with sensory integration difficulties would dislike or have a hard time engaging in these types of activities. Sensory integration is grounded in the idea that movement helps to develop the nervous system and actually produces POSITIVE impact for children.

Here are 5 movement based activities that Honest OT recommends for your child. Some of these you can even do TOGETHER! Participating in the activities below can make transitions throughout the day easier, improve your child’s attention and focus and strengthen their overall development including gross motor, sensory processing and social emotional skills.

Breathing
We want our children to have the ability to use their breathe to self soothe, self calm or self regulate. Teaching them this from early on, can have long lasting effects. Using bubbles, musical instruments or using the Hoberman sphere are great ways to engage your child.

Movement
Dance, Yoga, Martial Arts, Swimming, Gymnastics are great movement activities that are structured and provide sensory kids with opportunities for strengthening and body awareness.

If you want activities for the home or your classroom, check out GoNoodle.

Encouraging your child to participate in activities like these, instead of team sports can help build self confidence.

Obstacle course
Check out your garage, the dollar store, or garage sales to find equipment that would work to make your very own American Ninja Warrior training course….or something close to it.

  1. Pool noodles, step stools, accordion tunnels, hula hoops, cones, and jump ropes are all great ways to encourage exercise in a FUN and cheap way. You can also incorporate fine motor activities like tossing bean bags, completing puzzles or clipping clothespins on a string. You can also add sensory components like bean or rice bins or a sensory walking path.

Nature
Get outside! Take a walk, ride your bike or scooter, pull a wagon around your neighborhood. If you have some more time, take a drive out into nature, the mountains, a lake, a park. Explore leaves, trees, animals, different textures and smells. Go on a scavenger hunt.

Everyday activities
Occupation Is what you do everyday that is meaningful to you! That’s how occupational therapists got their name! Think about the tasks you and your child do everyday and what you can change to support their independence, participation and motor skills. Could they help out groceries away, set the table, open and close the door, make their bed? Make the everyday FUNctional!

Jill Loftus, MS, OTR/L is a practicing pediatric occupational therapist and parenting coach focused on enabling and empowering children and families. Her 15 year career working in schools, homes, clinics and the community has spurred her passion for providing child development education in a meaningful and creative way. She provides a variety of services, events and a weekly 5 tips newsletter that you can learn more about by visiting www.honestot.com or follow us on www.facebook.com/HonestOT/

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