In recent times it seems like parents are constantly ferrying their kids to one activity or another.
This can be even more apparent if your child is attending regular medical appointments or therapy sessions. Whether it’s physio/physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy, or specialists visits, it can be very draining on both you and your child.
While I think that it’s important to watch out for schedule overload, the benefits of Organised Activities are definitely worth considering.
If your child is seeing an Allied Health professional, I think it would be pretty safe to say that at some point during your session they discuss areas for you to continue to work on between sessions. After all, it makes sense that the more opportunities your child has to practise the skills you are working on, the quicker they will develop in these areas.
This, in itself, can cause a lot of additional stress as a parent.
I’ve been there!
On many occasions I have found myself wondering:
- How am I supposed to fit in all of these exercises?
- If I add in even one more thing to do, I think I might go insane!
- Is it all too much on her?
- How do I balance this and make sure that she still has fun?
So why would you even consider adding something in to your already hectic schedule?
If it is done with thought and consultation, this could actually be something that SAVES YOU TIME!
Imagine if your child can use an organised activity as a way to incorporate therapy goals.
How can you make it work for you?
Well, the first thing I would suggest is that you take a step back from the detail, and think about your larger goals. Rather than thinking about each and every activity, think big picture, and get clear on what it is that you want to achieve:
- Improved coordination and balance
- Better core strength
- Increased stamina
- Improved social thinking
- Better reciprocal movement
- Improved bi-lateral coordination
- Increased opportunities for vestibular input
- Better proprioceptive awareness
- Additional opportunities for receptive language
- Opportunities to just be a child and have fun
The next thing I would suggest is talking with your therapist about any ideas they have for what type of organised activity would be a good way to achieve these goals. Between the two of you I’m confident you could brainstorm a short list.
Additionally, it’s important for your therapist to let you know that the activity you are considering is safe for your child, and if there are any restrictions or modifications that might be necessary.
I would recommend considering what your child is interested in from your list, or asking them for their opinion (if suitable). If it’s not something that your child is going to enjoy, you may find it more stressful than it’s worth.
Then I would suggest contacting a few different providers of the activity and letting them know about your child’s unique situation. You want to make sure that you feel comfortable that they will be able to accommodate any additional needs.
Ask for a free trial session, and meet the coach/teacher. You are your child’s advocate so observe how they interact, and ask questions or clarify any concerns.
After careful consideration, and through consultation with our 2 physios and a discussion with our OT we settled on a structured Movement and Music pre-Ballet class, and Soccer.
There have definitely been some times where Miss 4 has struggled from a rigidity and behaviour perspective in class and I have made it clear to her teachers that whilst I want her to be included, I don’t want that to come at the cost of the other children. There have been a couple of occasions where she has been removed from the classroom during dance class. And I have supported the teacher’s decision. I have offered comfort and hugs and persisted in returning the next week.
In addition to all of the Gross Motor skills that organised activities offer, there are also those softer skills that are equally important:
- Following instructions
- Social skills
- Cooperation and team work
- Persistence and growth mindset
If you choose the right coach/teacher you are effectively adding another member to your child’s team. Don’t be afraid to let the coach/teacher know what some of your therapy goals are that you are working on. I’ve found that they are happy to help and provide feedback.
And best of all, these sessions provide ample opportunity to practise many of the specific tasks that we are working on in therapy. It’s one of the best ways that I have found to incorporate skills practise into our week.
I would love to hear from you about organised activities that you do with your child that help them achieve their therapy goals.