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Executive Functioning Activities At Home

Many kids have difficulty mastering skills such as problem-solving, organization, sequencing, initiation, memory, attention, and breaking downgirl with homework books tasks.  These skills (and many more) fall under the category of executive functioning.  As children get older and begin middle school, these skills are expected to advance quickly.  It is usually in about 5th grade where teachers and parents start to notice their child may be having more difficulty than her peers in executive functioning skills. Academic specialists, occupational therapists, and neuropsychologists are just a few of the professionals who address challenges in these areas, but there are also a variety of activities that can be done at home that are both fun and target the development of certain executive functioning skills.

Here is a list of activities that build certain aspects of executive functioning and are fairly easy to orchestrate in the home:

  • Using Playdoh, blocks, or Tinkertoys, build a figurine and have your child build an exact replica in size and color.  This works on multiple skills, including initiation, breaking down tasks, sequencing, organization, and attention.  If you are unable to build an example, or if you have an older child who enjoys playing independently, there are often pictures of structures to build that come along with block sets or images online that can be printed.
  • Have your child go through a magazine and make a list of all the toys/items wanted. Then, have her organize the list in some sort of order (most wanted at the top, alphabetical, price, etc.).  For older kids, you could also have them write a description of the item, cut the pictures out, and type up a list with descriptions and pasted pictures, or even plan a presentation.
  • There are many board games that target executive functioning skill development.  A few of the games used in the therapeutic setting that would be easy and fun options for home use include: Rush Hour (a problem-solving and sequencing game involving getting a specific car out of a traffic jam when the other vehicles can only move in straight lines), Mastermind (trying to determine what the secret code is by process of elimination), and Connect 4 Stackers (a game of attention, organization, and planning to be the first to get four in a row, like the original, but this game involves different dimensions).
  • There are many resources that can be printed from the internet. Logic puzzles come in many different levels of difficulty and involve taking given clues, making inferences from those clues, and eventually solving some sort of problem through the use of the clues. There are often charts that accompany these puzzles and require attention, organization, sequencing and problem-solving.
  • Have your child choose a recipe from a magazine. After verifying that it is a realistic recipe that can be made in your home, have her write a grocery list containing everything needed to prepare that dish, create a list of the necessary cooking supplies, and for older children, have them look up the price of each item at the store and create an estimated budget. If possible, let them be part of the entire process, and take them with you to the grocery store. Again, with older children, you could even put them in charge of pushing the cart and finding the items in the store. For older kids, they may also act as the “head chef” and be responsible for completing most of the cooking. For younger kids, if there are safety concerns, assign specific tasks as their job in the cooking process.

One of the most important aspects of doing therapeutic activities at home is that your child is having fun. These are just a few of the many activities that can be done at home to develop executive functioning skills and are also engaging and enjoyable for school age kids.




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3 Signs Your Child May Have Dyslexia | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, an Academic Specialist explains ways to determine if your child has dyslexia.

Click here to learn more about dyslexia and find out more signs and characteristics to look for.

In this video you will learn:

  • What is dyslexia
  • How do children develop dyslexia
  • What are common signs in children with dyslexia

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host Robyn
Ackerman. I’m sitting here today with Elizabeth Galin [SP], an academic
specialist. Elizabeth, can you tell us three signs to look out for that a
child may suffer from dyslexia?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. And to start, dyslexia is a learning disability
characterized by an inability to decode words. So kids who have dyslexia
show trouble with spelling, with reading fluently, reading with accuracy.
It’s a deficit in the phonological component of language. So the first
thing that is a sign that your child may have dyslexia is a lack of
interest in reading. Most young children really enjoy reading and look
forward to that time but dyslexic kids, it’s difficult so they might run
away and hide. They’re not interested. Second is a lack of understanding
that letters make a sound, the phonological component again. So each letter
has an associated sound and that’s a really difficult association for
dyslexic kids to make. And lastly, dyslexic kids, when they begin to read
once they get a little bit older, they often make reading errors that
really just don’t even connect to the word at all. It’s different sounds.
Dyslexic kids often have a hard time sounding out words, and they have a
hard time with even the most basic of sight words. So if you’re seeing any
of those in your child, it might be worth a look.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much, Elizabeth, and thank you to our
viewers and remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

Creative Ways to Help your Child Work on Handwriting

Working on handwriting at home can feel like a lose-lose battle for parents and children alike.  It can be a challenging and/or least preferred activity for children, which makes it hard for parents to want to implement and follow through with.  While handwriting is certainly an activity which your child’s occupational therapist or academic specialist can help with, it is extremely important to expose your child to handwriting consistently at home on a daily or weekly basis.

Boy writing

Below are different creative writing ideas to get your child practicing his handwriting with less hesitation!

  • Write the family grocery list
  • Copy a recipe onto a recipe card
  • Create a bucket list of activities or places to go
  • Make a birthday list (e.g. places to have next birthday party; themes for party)
  • Write upcoming events onto the family calendar
  • Write out personal goals for the upcoming school year (e.g. to be part of a school play; to join a new sports team; to get straight A’s)
  • Keep track of what you ate each day or plan meals for the next day
  • Help create a to-do list (e.g. chores; long-term homework assignments)
  • Keep track of a topic of interest (e.g. bird watching)
  • Write a book report on your favorite book
  • Make a comic book with drawings and short phrases
  • Copy jokes into a booklet format (e.g. from laffy taffy wrappers or popsicle sticks)
  • Create a list of potential outfits to wear to school or to pack for an upcoming vacation
  • Write out cards to send to family/friends
  • Paraphrase the rules to a favorite board game or card game

The suggestions above can help your child find a handwriting activity that he does not mind doing.  If it is still a struggle, offer him two options for the day (e.g. you can either write my grocery list for me or write out a card for Grandma’s birthday).  You can also try setting a timer and let your child know that he needs to write for 10 minutes or come up with at least 3 sentences (or whatever is age appropriate compared to his peers at school).  Lastly, for the first few trials, don’t feel like you have to edit or critique your child’s work, rather, just have him try to do his best work and praise him for being creative or trying something new.  There will be plenty of opportunities to work on sizing, spacing and spelling after handwriting becomes more of a routine at home.

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What do Occupational Therapists Look for During your Child’s Handwriting Sample?

Handwriting is a lifelong skill. It begins as young as 3 years of age, when children start identifying shapes, letters, and numbers.  Handwriting and letter recognition are important for communicating (e.g. sending cards and emails) and for completing age-appropriate tasks (e.g. homework assignments; writing grocery lists).child pencil grasp

Below are many of the components your child’s occupational therapist looks for during a handwriting sample in order to work towards a clear and legible final product:

  • Sizing: Are the letters all relatively the same size (e.g. all upper case the same size and all lower case the same size)?
  • Spacing: Are the letters and/or words too close together?  Or is there at least a finger or pencil width between each word?
  • Mixing of upper case and lower case:  Is there inconsistency between the use of upper case and lower case letters?  Are upper case letters used correctly (e.g. start of a sentence or for a name/title)?  Mixing of upper case and lower case letters is appropriate until 6 years of age.
  • Capitalization: Are names, titles, and beginning letters of a sentence appropriately capitalized?
  • Formation of letters Does the child form each letter in the right direction?  (e.g. ‘b’, ‘d’)  Does the child use the correct number of lines and curves? (e.g. ‘m’, ‘n’)  Letter reversals are appropriate until 7 years of age.
  • Complete sentences Are there clear and complete thoughts?  Is the correct punctuation used at the end of the sentence?
  • Floating letters: Do all of the letters sit clearly on the line?
  • Pencil grasp:  Does the child hold the pencil or marker age appropriately?  The static tripod grasp is expected around 3 ½ – 4 years of age.  This is when the pencil is held between the thumb and index finger, with the pencil resting on the middle finger and the child uses and moves his wrist/arm to make movements with the pencil.  The dynamic tripod grasp is expected around 4 ½ – 6 years of age.  This is when the pencil is held between the thumb and index finger with the pencil resting on the middle finger, and the child uses and moves his fingers to make movements with the pencil.
  • Posture in chair:  Is the child slouching or falling out of the chair?  Is the child propped or leaning?  Are his feet flat on the floor?  Is the table the appropriate size?
  • Pressure used:  Is the child’s writing legible?  Or does he press down too hard or too lightly with the pencil, causing the writing to be hard to read or his hands to fatigue more easily?

This list of handwriting aspects may give you ideas of what to look for in your child’s handwriting during activities/assignments at home.   If you notice that your child is having trouble in any of these areas, encourage him to focus on one of those aspects each time he practices writing (to break down the task).  Your child will work on these aspects of handwriting during his occupational therapy sessions, but it is also very important to provide your child with similar learning opportunities and feedback at home.

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3 Signs your Child is Ready to Read | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode, an academic specialist introduces us to the 3 top indications a child is ready to start reading.
Click here to read our blog titled “10 Signs of a Reading Disorder

In this video you will learn:

  • What factors determines the child’s desire to read
  • What is phonemic awareness
  • Signs in the child’s behavior indicating his readiness to read

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and I’m sitting here today with Elizabeth Galin [SP], an academic
specialist. Elizabeth, can you tell us what are three signs to look for
that a child may be ready to read?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. The first sign to look for when your child is ready
to read is motivation. You’re looking for your child looking forward toward
that reading time, sitting down with you, understanding that books open and
close, they turn pages right to left, that the words and the pictures on
the storybook tell us something, tell us the story.

And as children get older, the next thing you’re looking for, the second
thing you’re looking for, is letter recognition. Children begin to
understand the letters of the alphabet, specifically letters in their name
or maybe, letters in a brand that they recognize, Thomas for Thomas the
Tank Engine or stop like a stop sign, and then they begin to associate
sounds with those letters and that’s called phonemic awareness.

The third thing that you’re looking for in a child being able to read is
print awareness. So they begin to realize that letters on the page come
together to form words. Those words form sentences. Those sentences tell us
the story that we’re listening to. And you may find a young child being
interested in imitating writing. They can’t form the letter but they make
pretend letters.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much, Elizabeth. Those are some great
things to look out for, and thank you to our viewers. And remember, keep on
blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.