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Household Chores for Children by Age

Children doing household choresWith school, holidays and less time to keep up with household chores, parents everywhere are looking for a few more helping hands to keep “home base” spick and span. Here is a brief overview of developmentally appropriate household chores:

Here is a brief overview of the developmental sequence of household chores:

Chores for a 13 month old:

Your child should begin to imitate you completing household chores. Pushing a pretend vacuum cleaner over the carpeting or helping you wipe up their craft table are excellent examples.

Chores for a 2 year old:

Your child should demonstrate the ability to pick up and put away their toys with verbal reminders (e.g. clean-up your puzzle before lunch).

Chores for a 3 year old:

Your child should be able to carry things without dropping them; dusting, drying dishes, and gardening. They should also be able to wipe up their spills.

Chores for a 4 year old:

Your child should be able to prepare dry cereal and snacks for themselves. They should also be able to help sort laundry before washing.

Chores for a 5 year old:

Your child should be able to put their toys away neatly, make a sandwich, take out the trash, make their bed, put dirty clothes in their hamper, and appropriately answer the telephone.

Chores for a 6 year old:

Your child should be able to help you with simple errands: complete household chores without redoing them, clean the sink, wash dishes with assistance, and cross the street safely.

Chores for a 7-9 year old:

Around 7-9 years of age, your child should begin to cook simple meals, put clean clothes away, hang up their clothes, manage small amounts of money, and use a telephone correctly.

Chores for a 10-12 year old:

Your child should have the ability to cook simple meals with supervision, complete simple household repairs with appropriate tools, begin doing laundry, set the table, wash dishes, and care for a family pet with reminders.

Chores for a 13-14 year old:

Your child should be able to independently do laundry and cook meals. By expecting your child to complete daily chores before moving onto their preferred activities, it is a wonderful way to prepare them for the demands of homework and other activities when they return to school.

Children of all ages can contribute to keeping up with housework. In addition to keeping your house clean, chores are also an excellent way to instill a sense of ownership and responsibility into your child’s daily routine. Your child could be responsible for one or two chores each day, or each week, depending on the time they have available. Create your own system for keeping track of the chores your child has completed (ex. sticker chart or a marble jar). Each time your child completes their chore, reward them with one token (ex. one sticker or one marble). When they reach 10 tokens, reward them with a bigger prize of their choosing (ex. an ice cream treat or a trip to the zoo). Be sure to verbally praise your child with each attempt at completing a chore and assist them as needed, especially while they work to complete a novel duty. Your verbal encouragement paired with the reward system will only help to motivate your child to take on more and more responsibility at home.

Fleming-Castaldy, R. P. (2009). National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam: Review and
Study Guide. Evanston, IL: International Educational Resources, Ltd.

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The Benefits of Increasing Therapy Over the Summer

Summer is the time of the year when children engage in more free play and physical activity. Therefore, summer is the perfect time of the year to improve upon skills that children need in order to be active, successful, and independent children!Little girl jumping a rope

Here are some of the best reasons to consider starting therapy or increasing the number of therapy sessions for your child over the summer:

Maintain and improve skills for school – Since school is out for the summer, it is important that children do not lose the fine motor, problem-solving, planning, and organizational skills (and more) that are necessary to be productive students at school. Although summertime is a great time to provide opportunity for free play, it may create academic issues for your child once school starts back up if he or she does not engage in challenging tasks  during their 3 month break from school.

Practice physical activities, such as bike riding, climbing, and jumping rope – During the summer, children are often playing outside for hours on end. It may become noticeable that your child is not keeping up with their peers. Activities with which you may notice some difficulty are often when children have to coordinate their arms and legs, such as jumping jacks, climbing the jungle gym, and learning to ride a 2-wheeler. By participating in therapy over the summer, therapists can address these specific concerns in order to help your child stay up to speed with their friends while performing these activities.

More availability over the summer – Since your children are out of school for the summer, they may have a lot more time and availability during the day to participate in more therapy. Summer camp and extra-curricular activities often only take up part of the day, so there may be more times you are available to schedule therapy appointments. Furthermore, although camp and extra-curricular activities are great options for staying active, they do not necessarily offer the same therapeutic benefits as therapy.

Provides structure to their day– Oftentimes, summer can be a season of unstructured play time in which children can do anything they would like. Sometimes the choices are so overwhelming that this can often lead to hours of playing video games, watching TV, and other sedentary activities. Therapy can provide structure to your child’s day to make them feel like they are being productive by spending their time doing valuable tasks.

Opportunity for peer interaction outside of school – Once school is over for the summer, some children may only spend their time with the same friends every day. Therapy sessions can provide the opportunity to make more friends in the clinic and learn how to engage in social situations with other people.

These are just a few of the many benefits that therapy can provide to your child over the summer! By making your child more actively engaged in goal-directed activities, you are setting your child up to be productive students the following school year and active children during the summer!

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When Your Child Hates Day Camp

As parents, we hope that each of our children is going to hop off the camp bus each afternoon with a smile plastered on their face, eager to tell us about their wonderful day at camp. In reality, this is not always the case. Sometimes, even the simplest issues can make day camp a negative experience for your child. Don’t get discouraged. The first step in turning a negative experience into a positive one is to identify the underlying problem. Listed below are some helpful hints, which just might turn your child’s frown upside down.

5 Ways To Help A Child That Hates Camp:

  1. Stay Calm: As parents, we need to take a deep breath and not make any quick decisions.Sad boy on bus
  2. Remember: You sent your child to camp not only to have fun, but also to increase their independence and allow them an opportunity to grow socially. All of your child’s experiences will add to their social and emotional development.
  3. Get the Scoop: First and foremost, talk to your child; find out if they can tell you what it is about camp they don’t like. See if they can verbalize what specifically is negatively impacting their experience. Identifying the problem is always the first step to finding a solution. After speaking with your child, contact a reliable source at camp that you feel best knows your child. Gather information from them and let them in on what you have learned from your child. If you’re still at a loss as to why your child is so unhappy, ask the adult in charge if they have any ideas of what the problem might be. Try to identify the time of day or activity that might be causing your child to have a negative experience, or any social interactions that might be stressful.
  4. Remove the Roadblocks: You know your child best. If it is an activity that is causing your child to be upset at camp, come up with a solution. If your child is getting upset during swimming, maybe take them to the public pool and help them get comfortable in the water, so that they will be eager to jump into the pool at camp and show off their new skills. If the issue is as simple as a long, hot bus ride at the end of the day, consider meeting the bus at a halfway point to get your child, so that the ride is shortened. If your child is having any type of social issue, try role-playing with them to help increase their confidence.
  5. Turn the experience into a success, not a failure: Though nothing is harder than watching your child be unhappy, it is so important to show your child that you are not only totally supportive, but also that you have confidence in their ability to work through this roadblock. Problem solving is an essential life-long tool. Use these opportunities to help your child develop those skills!

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5 Tips For Easing back into the school year

Another summer has flown by, and a new school year is right around the corner. Parents and children alike are wondering what the new school year will bring. Parents wonder: will my child have tons more homework this year? Will my child meet new friends? Will my child have time for extracurricular activities? Children Children walking to schoolwonder: Will I like my new teacher? Will I get a recess? Who will I eat lunch with? Will I get to ride the bus? Here are some tips on preparing for the school year ahead, so that everyone can have a smooth transition from summer into fall.

1. Map out the route to school

Whether your child is going to walk to school, take the bus, or carpool with friends, both of you will feel more confident in the transportation process if you know where your child is going (e.g. which streets), how they are going to get there (e.g. meet a friend on the corner; turn right at the red fire hydrant etc), and how long it will take. You and your child can take several practice runs at using this route before school actually begins so that you can work out any kinks that may arise.

2.Talk About Changes

Make sure to talk about any changes that may be occurring this year, such as a new teacher, a different classroom, a new school, or a longer school day. By being honest and open with your child, they will be more likely to voice their concerns, and you can then work through these fears right away. You can make a chart with your child, listing “things I am excited for” and “things I am nervous about” or “things that will be different”; focusing on the pros of this new change occurring, and reinforcing that you know change can be difficult and scary, but it will help them to grow and learn.

3. Prepare a homework space

Prepare a personalized study nook or a homework table where your child will be able to have his own space to concentrate and spread out their schoolwork. Help him to find a table and chair combination that promotes a 90 degree angle of the hips, knees, and elbows so that your child has a tall, supportive posture to elicit good postural control and attention to task. Make this area more exciting by allowing your child to hang a bulletin board nearby with a calendar or pictures on it; have a cup full of different pencils/pens/markers for a variety of assignment; or a plastic bin containing a pair of scissors, ruler, markers, glue, highlighters, etc.

4. Plan out lunches

Plan out “special” lunches that your child enjoys by creating a list that can hang on the refrigerator. This will help your child to be involved in her lunch-time meal plan, help to eliminate extra planning time for the “lunch packer” in the morning, and also help parents prepare before making a trip to the grocery store. This list can be broken into different categories, such as “fruits”, “veggies”, “sandwiches”, “snacks” and “desserts” so that your child can learn more about the food pyramid and will be able to help to pick out one item from each category when packing a lunch.

5. Ease into a sleep schedule

Start easing your child into a school schedule by having him go to bed and wake up at similar times he will have to do when school begins in a few weeks. Work together to find activities that help to calm him down and/or wake him up, to use at night to unwind before bed, or in the morning to get the body moving (e.g. a warm bubble bath; reading a book; watching 1 television show; jumping jacks; wheelbarrow walks).

Keep Play Safe and Fun in the Summer Heat and Sun

With the hot and humid Chicago summer we have been having these past few weeks, it is important to be mindful of how well your children’s bodies can handle the heat. Children are still playing outdoor sports and finishing up their leagues before school starts, and some camps may still be in session. Many older children have already begun practice for fall sports. When your children are spending hours outdoors during the day, keep in mind these safety tips:Young T-Ball Player Running

Safety Tips for Sports And Activities in the Heat

  • Drink plenty of fluids at least an hour before vigorous physical activity, as well as during and after the activity. Drinking too much water right before the activity may cause muscle cramps. Drinking very cold beverages may also cause cramps, so let the drink sit out for a few minutes after taking it out from the refrigerator.
  • Sports beverages are great, as they can help replace the salts and minerals lost when sweating.
  • Allow children to pace themselves with physical activities. Start out slowly and pick up the pace gradually so as to avoid muscle cramps. Avoid overexertion.
  • Be weary of signs of heat exhaustion (heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headaches, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and paleness).
  • If possible, stay inside in the midday when the sun is the hottest and strongest, and try to schedule sports activities in the mornings and evenings.
  • Stay in the cool shade as much as possible when outside.
  • Wear sunscreen.

Play outside safely, and have fun!

Fandango With Kids: Tips For A Trip To the Movies

Summer is meant to be active, fun, and exhausting for children but sometimes the weather just won’t cooperate. What do you do on days when they can’t run outside, swim, or barbeque? You Fandango! Remember these words of wisdom for the best theater experience with your children.

 Top tips for a trip with kids to the movies

  1. Choose a very child friendly film. You can even look up the sensory friendly screenings in your area.Empty Movie Theater
  2. Consider bringing your own snacks, especially if your child has special dietary needs.
  3. Remember that you don’t have to stay for the entire movie. Your child may only be able to handle half, and that is OK.
  4. Bring another adult if your children need to be able to get up or go to the bathroom quickly. You may need an extra pair of helping hands.
  5. Bring headphones to reduce the sound if your child is sensitive to loud noises.
  6. Teach your child movie time rules before making the trip so he/she knows what is expected ahead of time. Bring a reward chart if that helps.
  7. Enjoy the show!

How to Survive a Day with a Child at Six Flags Great America

Six FlagsWe all have memories of the amazing days as children when we took a trip to the amusement park. Growing up in Chicago, my park was Six Flags Great America. It was so easy for my parents: Plan the day, get some hats and suntan lotion and go! If your child has special needs it can be a little trickier, but there are a few things you can do to make your six flags experience even more enjoyable!

Tips to Prepare Your Child With Special Needs For A Day At Six Flags Great America

1)   Talk to your child about the trip several days in advance.

2)   Show him pictures. If necessary, make a social story about the trip.

3)   Make a list of rules at the park with your child. Create a reward chart or any other visuals ahead of time so they are ready to bring with you for a more successful day.

4)   Create a visual schedule for the day so your child knows exactly what to expect while at the park.

5)   Make sure your child is really ready to enjoy the trip, and if not get a babysitter instead.

6)   Contact guest relations before you go and check to see if there are accommodations for children with special needs.

7)   Make sure to get permission to bring the food and drinks you need for any dietary restrictions before you go. They are very strict with their rules on bringing any food or drinks into the park. According to Six Flags:

May I bring my own food and beverages into Six Flags Great America? No outside food, beverages or coolers are allowed to be brought into Six Flags Great America. However, exceptions are made for Guests with special dietary needs to include food allergies and baby food/formula. Guest should contact Park Security or Guest Relations when they arrive at the Park for approval to bring in special dietary foods. The special dietary food containers will be marked and dated to clearly show that they have been approved for entry into the park.

8)   Enjoy Your Day!

 

 

Five Tips For Flying With Kids On Southwest Airlines

Air travel with children is always tough. With children along, you need more prep time, you must be extra alert at the airport to not lose track of them, parents and children are a bit nervous, ear pain may ensue, and you may deal with other perSouthwest Airlpane In Flighthaps loud, rude, or inappropriate fellow passengers.

Enjoy the flight the way Southwest Wants You To

Here are my top five tips for making your flying experience as pleasant as Southwest Airlines claims it will be.

1) Set flying rules with your children ahead of time and stick to them.

These should include rules for behavior from the time you load up the car until the time you arrive at your destination. Outline behavior expectations for packing the car to the airport, in the car, at the airport, and in flight. Have a behavior chart with you with stickers or tokens and designated prizes for every large part of the trip. Read more

Day Camp and Overnight Camp: Survival Guide for Parents and Campers

It’s summertime: warm weather, freedom from homework, and great summer camp experiences. Camp is an amazing opportunity for kids to learn independence and responsibility. When we go to “family camp” in the Wisconsin Dells each year, my husband and I challenge our kids and say that camp is about trying new things, even if they seem scary (my almost six year-old tried a zipline for the first time this year).

The Benefits Of Overnight and Day Camp: camp signs

Children meet new friends at camp and learn self-confidence along the way. At overnight camp, they also learn about responsibility and how to take care of themselves! But, summer camp may not be an easy transition for all kids (and their parents).

Avoid Homesickness by Staying Positive and Following Camp Rules.

Parents play an integral part in their child’s adjustment to camp. If parents are anxious about sending kids to camp, kids will pick up on that and they will then feel anxious.

Some Camp DOs and DON’Ts:

  • DO stay positive about camp. Focus on all the incredible experiences your child will have at camp.
  • DO look at the camp website together to see the smiling faces of past campers. Research all the available activities and help your child learn what his day will look like.
  • DO visit the camp together before the first day.
  • DO participate in pre-camp activities offered by the camp to meet other campers. Having a familiar face can make all the difference.
  • DON’T tell your child that you’ll have a difficult time without him being home. This can make your child feel guilty that he is leaving you and that you can’t survive without him.
  • DO allow him to enjoy this amazing experience.
  • DO follow the visitation rules the camp has created, whether it’s day camp or overnight camp. Kids need time to adjust to camp and they do best when they can adjust with their fellow camp friends.
  • DON’T show up at camp unless the camp allows a visitors’ day. When parents arrive while children are trying to adjust, it will inevitably lead to the child wanting to bolt out of the new environment and retreat back to the comforts of home.
  • DON’T tell your child that if she doesn’t like camp, she can call you and you will pick her up. That speaks to your own anxiety about her being away from you at camp. If kids don’t know that leaving is an option, they will learn to acclimate to their new surroundings and be able to fully enjoy themselves.
  • DO make sure that a letter (or email, if allowed) arrives when your child arrives at overnight camp. This lets your child know that you are thinking about him. But, make sure to stay positive in your letter. Ask questions about the kids in your child’s cabin, favorite activities, and what he is excited to try at camp.
  • DO talk with other parents about their experiences and how they survived (the kids will be fine).

 

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