The Unexpected Benefits Of Story Time

 It’s Not Just About Reading

Reading is an important and fun activity to experience with your child. There are so many benefits to the time spent reading to your child, listening to them read to you, and talking about the story afterwards. Listed below aMom And Young Daughter Pointing At Picture Bookre some of the things that you can do to make the experience of reading even more beneficial and engaging for you and your child.

To make reading more meaningful and exciting for your child, ask them to tell you their own story or make up a story together. You and your child could also recreate the ending of a familiar story to enjoy a whole new adventure. As you read books together, make sure to be animated and engaged in the story, use your voice Read more

How To Get Your Child Outside And Active In The Summer

Battling Their Electronic Friends

Parents often struggle with getting their children out and about during the summertime. Many children are perfectly content with watching televisiHappy Boy in Lawn Sprinkler With Friendson, playing video games, or playing on the computer for hours. It’s often up to parents to make sure their children are engaging in outdoor activities and staying active.

If you feel like you’re in a constant battle with the electronic devices in your home, it’s time to get creative and get your children outside. Below are some helpful suggestions to encourage them to be more active in the summer.

Fun Outside Activities For Children

Get Wet! Spend time at your community pool. If a community pool is not an option, then use your backyard for some water fun! You can have water balloon tosses, water bucket races, or play with squirt guns or water squirt toys. You can even dance and play in the sprinkler. Get a kiddie pool or a big tub and fill it up with your children’s favorite bath toys.

Get Dirty! Dig and play in the dirt. Plant flowers or search for different kinds of bugs. Give your child a magnifying glass and see what kind of treasures they can find! You can also bring out your children’s favorite toy trucks/trains and Lego blocks and create different communities for them to travel through. You and your child could start your own vegetable garden. You can plant tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and other veggies. Children will not only be fascinated when they see their veggies growing, they will learn about the growing process, too!

Get Artsy! Bring a table outside so your child can have their own little art area. Provide them with markers, crayons, paints and lots of paper, and let them explore their creative side. Outdoors is the perfect place for messy finger painting. Have your child create pictures or play games (e.g. Tic-Tac-Toe or Hopscotch) on your driveway or sidewalk with sidewalk chalk.

Get Educated! If you can, walk or bike to your local library. While at the library, have your child check out different books that they are interested in, and have story time outside. You can also check out books about different plants, flowers, birds and insects, and take these books to the nature center or your backyard and try to find the different creatures.

Get Gaming! Play different outdoor games and invite some of the neighborhood children to play, too. Some different games that you can play are: Hide-and-Seek, Follow the Leader, Red Light – Green Light, Red Rover, Kickball, Four Square, Kick the Can, Hopscotch, Capture the Flag, or Horse/Pig and other basketball games, to name a few. “Inside” games like board games and card games can also be moved to a table outdoors.

• Get Picking! Look into going to different orchards or farms so that you and your children can pick your own fruits and veggies. Then, pack some of them into a basket and have picnic in the park for lunch.

Other Outdoor Options

  • Have naptime outside
  • Take a trip to the zoo
  • Bike, rollerblade or skateboard
  • Blow bubbles, jump rope or hula hoop

Fun In The Sun And Fine Motor Skill Development

Mother and Young Daughter with Potted PlantsMany summer time activities have a hidden benefit…they help to develop your child’s fine motor skills! Here are few of the fun things that you can do this summer to increase hand and finger strength, fine motor coordination and dexterity.

Make Outdoor Art

  • Play with sidewalk chalk! Sidewalk chalk comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, making it easier to find chalk that fits your child’s hand and keep them engaged. Draw pictures, play tic-tac-toe or hopscotch, write the letters of your name or a message to a friend. The fun you and your child can have with sidewalk chalk is endless.
  • Water play is an essential summer time activity. You can use squirt guns, empty spray bottles or even turkey basters to “write” on the sidewalk or use them Read more

How To Use Prompts To Teach Children With Autism

Father Helps Daughter Put On ShoesTeaching a new skill to a child with autism requires a different approach than that used with a typically developing child. Why is this?

Children with Autism Learn Differently

Children diagnosed with autism often need teaching techniques to be tailored specifically to their learning style. Otherwise, a child may learn incorrect responses or become frustrated. A structured learning environment is an important factor when teaching an autistic child because it allows for greater control in developing correct responses.

The most effective way to adhere to a child’s specific learning style is through the use of prompting. With this technique, you must first determine what type of prompt will be administered, and then decide on the method of transfer used from prompt to the target. For example, if you are teaching your child to say “book” in the presence of a book, you may begin by pointing to the book while saying the word “book.” Read more

Dating After Divorce: Is My Child Ready To Meet My New Partner?

Man and Child Shaking HandsFirst, Allow Time For Adjustment To The Divorce

When deciding the “if, how, and when” of introducing a new partner to your child, first consider the adjustment period they’ve been in since the divorce.

Ask:

How strongly did the divorce affect your children?

How were they able to cope?

If your children are still showing signs of emotional distress (anger, sadness, fear, surprise, non-compliance) in reaction to the divorce, then you may want to hold off. Your child could need a period of at least 6 months -1 year for healthy adjustment. It is my belief that a successful Read more

How To Advocate For Your Child Now

Mother Talking to DoctorA parent is their child’s number one advocate. If a parent does not act on behalf of their child, who will? There are multiple areas where parents must act as an advocate for their child.

Advocating At The Doctors

When a parent is sure that a child is falling behind the other children in their play group, the first step is to visit the pediatrician. However, if after consulting the child’s pediatrician they say, “just wait,” a parent does not have to wait. They must listen to their own instincts Read more

Boost Your Child’s Language Through 9 Easy Summer Activities

Summertime holds great opportunities to enhance your child’s language skills. Take advantage of extra time at home and summertime activities to give your child a boost using language with the following tips:

9 Tips To Get Your Child Talking This SummerMom Reading With Daughter

  1. Introduce a new vocabulary word each week. Discuss the word with your children, use it in conversations with them, and praise them for using it.
  2. Ask your child to tell you at least 3 things about their day. This can include someone they talked to, an event that took place, or even what they ate for lunch. Allow them to start off with simple descriptions, and then begin to include more details as they are discussing their day.
  3. Include your child in planning for trips. Have them list items that will need to be packed, sequence events that will occur, and describe what will happen on the trip.
  4. Encourage your child to talk about an event that just happened. If you spent the day at the park, have your child talk about what games they played and who they saw as you are leaving.
  5. Help your child tell a story by asking “who,” “what,” “when,” and “where” questions to make sure important details are included and understood.
  6. Read books with your children. Have them re-tell what happened in the story.
  7. Act out stories or movies. Put on a short play or re-enactment of a book that was just read, or even have children make up their own story for the play. Make it a day long project by having them create puppets to use in the show.
  8. Play “Twenty Questions” or “I-Spy” while in the car. They can put different twists on the games by finding things by category, creating their own categories, or finding objects based on a letter in the alphabet (e.g. “S…I see the Sears Tower and the skyline!”).
  9. Involve your kids in social activities, whether it is through structured programs like a summer camp or spending times with their peers.

If you feel concerned about your child’s language development, consult a Licensed Speech and Language Pathologist for further assessment and guidance.

Encouraging Your Child To Talk About Their Day

Why won’t my child share more Information? mom and daughter talking

One of the most common things I hear from parents is the desire to hear about their child’s day. Whether at camp, a play-date, or a day at school, we’re anxious to hear all about it!

“So how was school today?” It seems simple enough. For children with language difficulties, however, sharing events from the day can be quite a challenge for several reasons.

Telling others about our day requires integrating several complex skills, such as remembering the details from the day, sequencing the events in the correct order, and forming sentences to describe each event in the past tense. For children with speech and language difficulties, these are no small tasks. When I ask kids what they did at school today, I am often met with responses such as “good”, or “I don’t remember” or, most commonly, “nothing”.

Tips to help your child talk about their day:

Avoid asking challenging questions during transitions. For children with speech and language difficulties (or anyone for that matter), it’s far more difficult to talk during transitions or while multitasking (e.g. walking in the Read more

A Little Roughhousing Goes a Long Way

As a pediatric occupational therapist, this story on The Today Show this morning caught my attention.Dad roughhousing with boys

The story illustrates that roughhousing helps “self- esteem and physical development” and that “it can actually make kids smarter, emotionally intelligent, likable — even lovable”.

For years, I have been prescribing home exercise programs to parents with children with sensory processing difficulties that include just this, a little roughhousing.

Recommended Roughhousing With Your Children:

  • I recommend pulling couch cushions on the floor and having their children jump around. I suggest squishing their child between pillows and making a “sandwich” out of them.
  • I also advise parents to wrap up their child in a blanket and have them log roll across the floor. This roughhousing is actually intense proprioceptive sensory input (the input your body receives from your muscles and joints).

This type of play provides kids with the input that they need to help them be more organized for every day activities and is regularly used in pediatric occupational therapy sessions. In fact, these activities help your child to learn and be more aware of their bodies.

So go ahead and have a little fun!

Dealing with Avoidance Behaviors in Preschoolers

anxious boyThe preschool years are an amazing time in children’s lives. They have already learned many skills in their first few years and feel like they are on top of the world. They are at the age of “I can do it myself.”

At this age, children are egocentric and believe that everything in the world revolves around them. For instance, if you ask a preschooler what to get Daddy for Father’s Day, she may answer with a gift that she would like: “Legos! A Doll! Dora The Explorer!” It’s not her intention to be hurtful, of course – it’s just where she is functioning developmentally.

The Preschooler Wants The Best Of Both Worlds

In their quest for independence, preschoolers will be torn between wanting to be a baby and wanting to be a big kid. Babies get lots of attention because they need Mom or Dad’s help with everything. Preschoolers like that attention and thus may regress to “I need help” when they previously did a task independently. They want to do “big kid” things, but because their imaginations are thriving, they can also create scenarios in their minds that make ordinary events seem more scary to them. Therefore, they may try to avoid certain activities either because they feel they will miss out on time with Mom or Dad at home (attention) or because they fear that something bad could happen to them when they try a new adventure.

This could lead preschoolers to refuse to go on play dates independently, say they are sick and can’t go to school or camp, or simply refuse to get ready for any of these exciting “big kid” opportunities. Parents can confront these avoidance behaviors with some careful phrasing, active listening, and allowing their preschool-age children to exert their independence by making good choices for themselves whenever a choice is possible.

How to Confront Avoidance Behaviors:

As parents, we always want to know why a behavior is occurring, but…

1) Resist the temptation to ask preschoolers “why” they are exhibiting the particular avoidance behavior (e.g. don’t ask, “Why don’t you want to go to school?”). Young children will inevitably answer that question with “I don’t know”, which will inevitably frustrate parents.

2) Try talking with preschoolers about what they think about when they imagine going to school, camp, play dates, etc. You may be surprised to learn that your child is thinking about what you’ll be doing (in other words, what he or she will be missing out on) while the child is on this new adventure. It may not be that she doesn’t want to go, but rather that she can’t relax enough to allow herself to have a good time. Read more