10 Tips To Get Your Students To Sit Quietly In Class/Circle Time

Girl Sitting LearningIt can be hard to get children to sit still in circle time or at a desk. Ideally, we can take the time to see why a child may be having trouble. For those that are young, fidgety or distracted, we need to know they are not doing it to bother us, and we need to have strategies to help them be more attentive. Remember, some children can sit still longer than others. Others children need to fidget or move because their nervous systems just are made that way.

Here are some ideas and strategies for assisting restless kids:

#1-Use a visual cue. For example, if the teacher is reading Spot, the children can hold beanbags, and every time the teacher says Spot’s name, the children have to toss the beanbag into the bucket. This keeps him attentive!

#2-Use carpet squares or bean bag chairs. Space the kids out so they are not on top of each other!

#3-Some kids can not sit unsupported (and unless you are super strong in your core, you can’t, either!). Make sure you identify these kids, and lean them against the wall, let them lie down, or give them a chair with feet on the ground.!

#4-Have the kids stand up, sit down, get involved with the story, and listen for some name or place in the story to stay attentive.

#5-Use a checklist so that kids follow and check off as things are said or done.

#6-Use multi-sensory teaching strategies. March around while doing multiplication tables, have the children stand up while speaking, and develop fun routines during the day to that will get the kids moving around. Read more

Arts and Craft Ideas To Improve Fine and Gross Motor Skills

toddler coloringToddlers learn about their world by using their senses, manipulating objects and experimenting.  Toddlerhood is marked by an explosion of development in all areas, including fine motor skills, or “hand skills”.  One fun way to promote fine motor skills every day (and on Valentine’s Day in particular) is through crafts!

Here is a short, craft-friendly guide to fine motor milestones:

  • Scribbling and making horizontal or vertical lines – 2 years old
  • Squeezing out glue – 2 years old (though squeezing out an appropriate amount of glue is a skill that will not develop until much later!)
  • Snipping with scissors – 2 ½ years old (with constant supervision!)
  • Drawing circles and a rough cross – 3 years old
  • Stringing large beads – 3 years old
  • Cutting on a line – 3 ½ years old

Unless you are hoping for updated living room walls, your toddler will need constant supervision, direction and demonstration throughout all of these projects.  When these tasks are completed, everyone’s heart will be warmed when you see your child beaming with pride at what has been created.

A few fun and simple craft projects to try with your toddler this Valentine’s Day:

  • Make a valentine for family members, classmates, or neighbors.  Young toddlers will be satisfied with simple tools such as finger paints or crayons.  Older children may want to add glitter, stamps, or stickers. Read more

Is Toe Walking Normal?

child on tiptoe.It is not uncommon for toddlers to walk on their toes or on the balls of their feet. This practice is often referred to as toe walking, a hereditary condition that may be seen when a child is learning how to walk. It is considered appropriate until the age of two, but if your child continues to toe walk beyond this point, it is important to have him/her evaluated by a physical or occupational therapist.

Toe walking is a common sensory-seeking behavior – children receive intense proprioceptive input to the calf muscle in their legs when they do it. This intensified input helps them to better prepare their bodies for play and learning. However, toe walking may be a sign of other sensory integrative difficulties and should be evaluated by an occupational therapist if accompanied by other symptoms (e.g. decreased eye contact, decreased coordination, or difficulty with gross or fine motor activities).

If your child toe walks occasionally, it may be a sign of a sensory issue. However, a child who consistently toe walks may eventually develop shortened Achilles Tendons (also known as tight heel cords) and should be evaluated by a physical therapist.

Toe walking may be considered appropriate if:

• Your child is just learning to walk

• Your child is under the age of two years old

• Your child can walk with normal gait when you ask them to

Seek professional help for Toe Walking when:

• Your child toe walks past the age of two years old

• Your child toe walks the majority of the time

• Your child demonstrates decreased eye contact, decreased coordination, or difficulty with gross or fine motor activities

Developmental & Fun Holiday Gift List For All Ages!

Holiday gift giving can be tricky to juggle when providing educational toys that also happen to be fun for your children. Here is a list of suggestions that is seperated by Ages, Sensory Considerations and Fine and Gross Motor Skill Development.  girl with gifts

Holiday Toys for Infants (0-1yr)

Gross Motor:

“Tummy time” offers strengthening of the back, core and neck muscles that are critical to a baby’s development. There are many tummy time mats on the market to help this important position be a part of your everyday routine,

Tummy time play mats; $14.99 – $24.99

Fine Motor:

Babies enjoy exploring environments that are filled with music, colors, lights and a variety of textures. Cause and effects toys are great for developing fine motor skills as well as eye-hand coordination such as,

Fisher-Price Little Superstar Classical Stacker (6mos & up); $13.99

Sensory:

Providing infants with teethers and rattles of a variety of shapes, sounds and textures will assist in their exploration of their environment as well as help sooth those teeth coming in. Read more

7 Activities To Keep Your Baby Active During The Winter

Active BabyThe leaves are changing, Thanksgiving is right along the corner, and the temperatures are dropping!  It is so important to keep your entire family active during the winter months, including your infants.  Many area community centers have “Mommy and Me” and “Gym and Swim” classes that encourage fine and gross motor activities.  Local music centers also have specialty classes just for the little ones.  There are still plenty of great activities that you can do indoors with babies to keep them active and achieve those gross motor milestones along the way.

Below are some fun activities to do with your little ones outdoors and indoors as the weather turns colder.

1)      After a diaper change when your baby is still on the changing table, ‘bicycle’ their legs in a rotating movement from their hips and knees.  This reciprocal motion is great for learning to crawl and walk!

2)      If you have a dog, include your babies in the daily dog-walking.  Quick, ten- to fifteen-minute walks with your kiddos that can walk or be pushed in the stroller get them (and you!) out into the fresh air.  As you are walking, talk to your children about the nature around them and how the seasons change the trees, grass and temperatures.  As a rule of thumb, dress your babies in one layer heavier then you would yourself. Read more

Organizational Strategies For Grammar School Students

Are school mornings hectic and stressful? Do the evenings fly by in a blur? Whether they’re in kindergarten or fifth grade, helping your children stay organized will help to get you out the door in the morning and leave more time for family fun at home in the evening.Unorganized Books

Here are a few organizational strategies you can use to get them better structured:

  • Organization for any family starts with a solid daily routine. This will help things to run smoothly once kids come home from school. Scheduling TV time, homework, dinner and a consistent bedtime will help the evenings move along like clockwork rather than chaos.
  • Checklists may be helpful in keeping kids on track with the family routine. Allowing them to check off what they have accomplished gives them ownership and increases their independence.
  • As the daily routine of the school year sets in, your child may require reminders to look through their backpack for any important papers to give you, assignments for the day, or upcoming school events. Building this process into the after school routine will help everyone stay on the same page and up-to-date with what needs to be completed.
  • Establish a designated area for backpacks, lunch boxes, show-and-tell items and other school supplies. An area close to the door will help your grade school student remember all of their supplies for the day’s events.
  • Help your student establish an organizational system for school. Binders with folders for each class or a labeled accordion-style folder will help them complete homework and meet deadlines. This strategy will stick with them for years to come.
  • Create an area for your child to complete homework that is free from too many distractions and allows for concentration and focused completion of homework and school projects. Making pencils, paper, and other necessary supplies easily accessible will help them to complete their assignments in a timelier manner.
  • If your child resists sitting down to complete their homework or becomes fidgety after sitting for too long, it may help to set a timer (5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes) and when it goes off give them a movement break. This provides an end point and may help them focus; giving your child a break during homework time is also helpful in keeping them motivated and on task.
  • Talk with your child’s teacher to identify what organizational strategies they will be using in the classroom in order to promote consistency at home.
  • Help your student use a daily planner to keep track of assignments given each day in school. Making a bulleted list for each class may remind them to fill out their planner each day.
  • Help your student to break down long-term projects into more manageable steps. This skill will prevent them from waiting until the last minute to complete the project, and will be beneficial into middle and high school.
  • Reviewing your child’s homework and recognizing their effort and accomplishments will motivate them to continue working hard.

 What is your best practice for organizing your child?

Click Here To Download Your Free Executive Functioning Skills Checklist

How to Transition Your Special Need’s Child for the New School Year

parent teacher conferenceAs summer comes to a close, the transition back to school can be difficult for just about any child. After three months of fun with no real demands, children now have to attend to teachers for six hours and following a structured routine. Children with special needs and neurodevelopmental concerns are even more likely to face difficulty here, but there are numerous strategies parents and teachers can implement to ensure the transition goes smoothly as possible.

Preparing Your Child For The New School Year

Prior to school starting, it is important to sit down with your children and explain the changes that they will be experiencing soon. Prepare your child for the school year. Explain to him or her what the school routine will look like. Give your child a schedule of what the day will entail.

Getting Your Child Acquainted With The School And New Teacher

Next, bring your child to school to meet his or her new teacher, who should be able to give further preparation and reassurance for the coming year. If your child will be attending a new school, it is recommended that he or she take a tour beforehand in order to get acclimated to the layout and surroundings of the building. Read more

Child Development: Is My Child Normal?

Mom and Baby The number one reason that parents contact myself and the various therapists at North Shore Pediatric Therapy is to find out whether or not their children are developing and progressing at a normal rate. When should my child crawl? When should she start speaking? At what age should he be walking? These are all questions that we find ourselves answering on a daily basis. Parents often are not privy to this information. If only children would come with an instruction manual. Each child develops at a different rate, which is found to be dependent upon several factors including environmental influence (exposure to a variety of experiences) to genetic predisposition. That being said, there are stages of development that every child will reach in a hierarchical order. The main areas of development include a child’s motor ability and his or her language functioning. Language functioning can then be broken down into two main areas: receptive language, which is the child’s ability to listen to and follow auditory demands, and expressive language, which is the ability to provide comprehensive responses. Below is a chart for the major stages of motor and language development along with typical ages in which the child should reach the stage. Read more

Does Your Child Have Bad Behavior at School, or Is it Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory integration (SI) is the organization of sensory input and sensations (touch, sight, sound, smell, taste, movement, body awareness, and the pull of gravity) in order to produce appropriate responses to situations, events, emotions, and expectations throughout the day. Sensory input flows constantly into our brain from our body and from the environment at a very rapid rate. The brain takes in information from our sensory systems and forms a combined picture of this information so that the body can make sense of its surroundings and react to them appropriately. This sensory information needs to be processed, organized and co-coordinated, and acted upon if a person is to behave appropriately and learn efficiently. If these sensations can be well managed, the brain can form perceptions, then concepts, and then derive meanings which results in acquiring skills and learning. Sensory integration provides a crucial foundation for more complex learning and behavior to develop.

While the process of SI occurs automatically and without effort for most of us, for some, the process is inefficient and is called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). SPD is a neurological problem, which affects behavior, learning, and Read more