Want to help your children play?
In the field, families are often curious about what they can do to extend therapies beyond the session with occupational and physical therapists. One key factor in continued growth and development is for families to support play at home. Playing is a vital tool that has an impact on a child’s life. Because of the critical role of play, it is important for families to keep up the fun outside of designated therapy sessions.
Here are some ways families can help:
- Encourage sensory-rich play by using balls, sand and water toys, slides, swings, finger paints, and magnets. Sensory play involves youngsters using their senses of smell, touch, sound, vision, and movement.
- Promote manipulative play with play dough, LEGOs, and board games. Puzzles, pegboards, beads, and lacing cards are examples of toys that assist children to enhance their eye-hand coordination and dexterity.
- Encourage creative or pretend play using dolls and plush animals, toy furniture, puppets, and telephones, among other things. Pretend play stimulates creativity and role-playing while also allowing children to practice social skills.
- Select toys that are age and maturity suitable for the youngster. They don’t have to be expensive or difficult to be useful. Pots and pans, empty boxes, spools of thread, shoelaces, and wooden spoons are all easily available and enable youngsters to utilize their imaginations.
- When picking a toy, think about whether the kid will need to be monitored while playing with it. Toys should not have little pieces that can be ingested or break easily.
Home-based play can be very beneficial for both the children and their families, but having services within a clinic and school setting can also be very helpful for improving your child’s skills and independence with activities. The clinic will often have more equipment available for the therapist to use during therapy, such as swings. Be sure to speak with your therapist on which setting can be most beneficial for your child as each child’s needs are different.
While the material in this article is geared at parents, it also applies to other people who have the ability to influence children’s play, such as grandparents, extended family members, and child care providers.
The Meaningful Play Store was developed to assist and educate parents, caregivers, teachers, and other therapists in the selection of tools that benefit children with autism, developmental delays, or sensory deficits. Our goal is to support our playmates with toys and tools that improve overall functioning to help them reach their maximum potential.