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Improving Your Child’s Social-Emotional Growth Through Board Games

In the fast-paced, high tech world of childhood, girls and boys are much more likely to reach for the iPad and Xbox than a set of dice. Although, technology can provide immense growth in your blog-social-emotional-main-landscapechild’s life, it can also delay important social-emotional learning that the old-fashioned board game has to offer.

Below are some important reasons to bring back the board game to work on social-emotional growth:

Practice Social Skills

Board games are a fantastic outlet to practice turn-taking, rule following and positive sportsmanship. Depending on your child’s age, choose an appropriate game to begin the process of reading the rules, modeling the steps of a turn, and providing examples of positive praise and compliments. Commend your child as they begin to integrate this set of skills into their regular play!

Enhance Flexible Thinking

Board games also allow for children to work on improving their frustration tolerance. Many parents can often relate to observing their children shutting down, becoming angry, or walking away from the game after a missed turn, wrong move, or misunderstanding. Flexible thinking skills to practice include compromising, negotiating, and problem-solving. Taking a break and calm breathing can also be helpful strategies. Practicing how to handle frustration in the context of a board game will help children to better handle frustration in other areas of their lives.

Helpful Tips

  • Incorporate your child’s favorite stuffed animal or Lego character as an additional player in the board game when other family members are unavailable.
  • Cooperative games are a helpful way to practice teamwork and can prevent competition from getting in the way of practicing rule-following and turn-taking skills.
  • Involve your child in picking out the board game in order to increase their interest in this new activity.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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The Benefits of Family Game Night

Whether it’s rainy, snowing, cold or hot, a family game night can be a great way to enjoy time together while secretly working on fine motor skill development. Your children will have so much fun playing games and spending time with you, they won’t notice that they’re developing skills at the same time! Family Game Night Blog

Below are 5 classic board games that can be used to facilitate fine motor skill development at your next family game night:

1. Hungry Hungry Hippos: This classic game was created by Milton Bradley and is great for family game night. To play, kids are required to rapidly depress a lever that in turn extends their hippopotamus’ neck and gobbles marbles that are bouncing around the game board. The player whose hippo eats the most marbles wins! This game is an excellent way to strengthen a child’s finger isolation (ability to use one finger at a time, without correlating movement of the others). Encourage your child to use only one finger in each game to push the lever. For the next round, switch fingers. Try to play enough rounds so that your child has the chance to exercise each finger on her left and right hand!

2. Operation: This game was also created by Milton Bradley. It requires a lot of fine motor precision to remove small plastic “organs” from a pretend surgery patient using small tweezers. To play, kids are required to move their hands and fingers very slowly and steadily without allowing the tweezers to touch the patient’s body. Encourage your child to hold the tweezers using the same grasp pattern she would on her pencil. This activity will strengthen the same intrinsic muscles of the hand that your child will use for writing, drawing, and coloring.

3. Perfection: This game is by Hasbro and is a great addition to family game night. To play, kids are required to use their pincer grasp pattern (the tips of their index finger and thumb) to pick up game pieces varying in complexity of shape. The goal of the game is to match all game pieces to a correlating slot on the game board before the timer expires. To make this game even harder, encourage your child to pick up the game pieces using tweezers, resistive clothes pins, or chopsticks to exercise a different set of intrinsic hand muscles.

4. Don’t Spill the Beans: This game is the third by Milton Bradley on the list. To play, kids are again required to pick up small beans using their pincer grasp pattern. One-by-one, they are to place them on top of an unsteady pot. Your child will have to be very careful to place the beans just so, in order to avoid the entire pot of beans toppling over and spilling. To make the game even harder, your child can use the same tweezers, resistive clothes pins, or chopsticks to pick-up the beans.

5. Connect Four: This game is also by Hasboro. To play, kids pick up 2 inch plastic coins and drop them into a vertically stabilized playing board. The object of the game is to place four game pieces, of the same color, in a row. The pieces can be strung together in a line side to side, up and down, or diagonally. This is a great game for practicing the grasp and release of objects as well as hand-eye coordination. To make the game more challenging, encourage your child to pick up the game pieces using different combinations of fingers (ex. “This time use only your thumb and middle finger to pick up the pieces). This practice will promote improved fine motor planning, finger isolation, and body awareness.

6. Lite-Brite: This game (or art project) is by Hasboro. To play, kids can work on their own or with friends to create pictures by pushing colored pegs through an illuminated game board. Kids have the opportunity to follow a pre-designed pattern or create their own bright and colorful masterpiece all while using their pincer grasp pattern to pick up the pegs.

Board games provide an excellent chance for kids to improve their fine motor skills but can also be used to promote cognitive development and social skills. Try to find time in your busy schedule to have a family game night as often as possible for a fun evening of family bonding and the enhancement of a variety of skills.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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Top 3 Board Games to Foster Therapeutic Skill Development

Board games not only provide a cure for rainy day boredom or a source for family entertainment, but they also provide a positive and collaborative outlet in which critical thinking and interactional skills can be enhanced. Therapeutic board games are not needed to help identify and foster skills like compromise/negotiation, turn-taking, impulse control, frustration tolerance and problem-solving.  Even the most fundamental games can facilitate the integration of these key social factors. Child growth and development in the most natural of settings provides real-life applications for how to implement these skills.

Here are a few of my favorite games to help foster skill development:

Connect 4: Success in this game comes from anticipating the next person’s move and negotiating his own patterns, while also making moves that prevent the other player from achieving his pattern. Social thinking, impulse control, and frustration tolerance are essential when playing this game. Teaching your child to look not only at his own goals, but also at the potential goals of the other person, is critical to win. One strategy to improve social thinking is to also implement impulse control. Ask your child to Stop, Think, Act.  This will help foster more favorable outcomes.

At the onset of his turn, encourage your child to do the following:

  • Stop!
  • Think about his future move.
  • Think about his opponents next perceived move.
  • Act. Put his chip in.

Add a visual or written schedule to decipher the appropriate steps for each turn.  This will help foster social thinking as well.

If your child gets upset if he lost the round, encourage him to evaluate the size and severity of this problem. This is a small problem, as compared to getting bullied or falling down and hurting himself, so the reaction should be small too.  For example, “Oh well, I can try again next time.” or “It’s ok to win and lose at times.” Read more

Let the Games Begin: How to Help Your Child to use Games in a Different Way

As I mentioned before in my previous blog, it is important for parents to consider traditional board games as well as hands-on toys forlegos this holiday season. While new technology is impressive, traditional board games and hands-on toys continue to be an ideal way for children to work on a variety of skills allow them to explore their environment and pursue their own personal interests. One common struggle that parents may encounter is that their children may become ‘bored’ with their toys after a short period of time, therefore, this proves to be a perfect time to help your children think of alternative ways to play a game.

Below are a few suggestions as to how to break down a game and address different skills:

  • Easel: While an easel is a great place for your child to draw pictures and paint, it can also be used for practicing your child’s spelling words, playing Tic-Tac-Toe, Pictionary or Hangman and for creating a visual schedule. Similarly, have your child use  clothes
    pins or clips to hang his or her paper onto the easel to address their hand strength, pincer grasp and upper body strength. These skills will benefit their handwriting and other fine motor tasks.
  • LEGOs: It is often that children will have plenty of ideas of what they would like to create using their LEGOs, whether it be pirate ships, castles or spaceships. In addition, parents can challenge their child’s visual skills by building a structure and then asking the child to copy that identical structure using the exact same colors and placement of the LEGOs. This activity will help your child improve upon copying complex designs as well as tracking skills(to move his eyes left to right and up and down). Tracking skills ultimately help your child improve his or her visual skills for reading and handwriting (as both activities happen left to right).
  • Puzzles: It can be difficult for children to want to sit down and work on completing a puzzle as puzzles can be challenging and they often require patience and attention to detail. With that being said, try mixing it up a little bit for your child by creating a scavenger hunt with the puzzles pieces. One person is the ‘hider’ who hides the puzzle pieces and then can provide “hot/cold” verbal cues to help the ‘finder’ locate all of the missing pieces. Similarly, the ‘hider’ could create a Treasure Map in order to help the ‘finder’ locate the missing puzzle pieces or the ‘treasure’. Creating a Treasure Map enhances creativity, problem solving, planning and executing skills (completing a task start to finish). Similarly, it helps to improve fine motor and visual motor skills to create the map. Overall, a puzzle helps to address your child’s visual motor skills, problem solving skills and the skill of being able to politely request help when needed.

As you can see, many of your child’s games and toys can be used in a variety of ways and not only what is printed in the instruction manual. Similarly, there are various strategies to use in order to improve your child’s fine motor, gross motor, attention and motor planning skills with a fun and simple family game night. Please contact your child’s occupational therapist for more individualized ideas for your particular child. Let the games begin!

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Physical Activities to Get your Child Moving | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric physical therapist will explain creative ways to help your child get up and get active!

In this video you will learn:

  • What indoor games are best for encouraging physical activity with your child
  • What outdoor activities increase muscular activity
  • What gaming system is best for enhancing your child’s activity

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 you’re host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host Robyn
Ackerman, and today I’m standing here with Leida Van Oss, a
pediatric physical therapist. Leida, can you tell us some
physical activities that we can use to get our children
moving?

Leida: Sure. When you want to get your kid moving and active, it’s
really important that it’s something that’s fun to them. So
if they’re really interested in doing board games, there
are a couple different board games you can do, such as
Hullabaloo or I Can Do That by Cat in the Hat or Twister.
If they like to go outdoors, then do something like a
sport, like swimming or soccer, or if there’s snow on the
ground, you can build forts or go sledding. But it’s really
important to pick something that they’re going to be
interested in so that they get really active.

If they really like video games, there are a lot of good active video
games you can do, especially with the new system, the
Kinect. Things like Just Dance or Dance, Dance Revolution
are all really good games that incorporate the video game
aspect with being really active.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much for those tips, 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.