Motor planning is used to learn new things until those activities become skills and do not require planning anymore.Read More
Blog posts by the staff at sensational development. We post information and topics of interest for our clients.
Filtering by Category: play
It is becoming more and more common to withhold recess as a punishment for bad behavior in the school setting. However, recess provides a plethora of benefits to a child that may be unrecognized by teachers and staff. To take away recess would be a disservice to both the student and the teacher. Recess provides a time for each child to take a break from the high demands of their academic school day and ‘let loose’. “Recess represents an essential, planned respite from rigorous cognitive tasks. It affords a time to rest, play, imagine, think, move, and socialize.” “In addition, recess helps young children to develop social skills that are otherwise not acquired in the more structured classroom environment.” Recess is the one portion of the day that belongs to the child. While it is supervised, recess is an unstructured time for children to do what they want, when they want (so long as it is safe). They can be as creative and imaginative as they choose, thus expanding the development of fundamental play skills. Along with this, it provides a time for movement, social acquisition, and visual development. In addition, recess is a perfect opportunity for children to learn playground politics- working on a team, being a leader, and turn-taking.
‘How does this have a direct impact on the teachers?’ you may ask. Well according to studies, “After recess, for children or after a corresponding break time for adolescents, students are more attentive and better able to perform cognitively.” By giving their students a break from their academic duties, they can return rejuvenated and ready to work. It provides the children the time they need to regain their focus before returning to the classroom to finish their day. In fact, the children who struggle with attention or other behavioral issues that may result in recess being taken away are actually the ones that need it the most.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines recess as “regularly scheduled periods within the elementary school day for unstructured physical activity and play.” It has been put in place for a reason, and nowhere does it say to reduce or reallocate this determined time. Movement is critical to development and should not be used as punishment for something that is supposed to be naturally occurring!
Rachel Durante, MS OTR/L
Murray, R. & Ramstetter (2013). The Crucial Role of Recess in School, 131(1). American Academy of Pediatrics.
Although it has been a relatively mild winter, I am so excited Spring is here! Longer days, open windows, being outdoors, and gardening are just a few of the things I am looking forward to. Spring is such a great time to get the kids outside and in nature. For our sensory seekers we have such great opportunities to get proprioception, tactile, auditory, visual and vestibular inputs. There are so many benefits to being in nature, getting dirty and spending time playing outside.
Here are just a few ideas to get you going:
Get some proprioceptive input by playing tug-o-war, digging in the dirt, pulling weeds, pulling a wagon, climbing a tree or pushing a wheelbarrow.
Get out on the swings at the park or in the yard, ride a bike or scooter, roll in the grass, run, have a relay race, build an obstacle course or fort, or play ring around the rosy to get some vestibular input and work on motor planning skills.
If you like to garden, sorting and planting seeds are great for fine motor control and tactile discrimination while digging is great for hand and upper body strength.
Flying a kite is a great activity for bilateral coordination and motor planning as well as hand-eye coordination. Take off your shoes, get dirty, play in a mud puddle and feel the grass on your feet!
Go on a scavenger hunt or a hike, go for a walk or bike ride in the preserve or bike path. See how many colors or shapes you can find. Notice the blooming flowers and stop to smell them. Spend some time working on mindfulness and notice as many things about your environment as you can; sounds, smells, sights. Just listening to the birds chirp can help us learn about spatial orientation and auditory localization. Shift your focus inward and note how our bodies feel after riding or walking along a trail. Close your eyes, put your hand on your heart and see what you notice about your own body. Enjoy taking time to be mindful and attentive to ourselves, those around us and our environment.
Take a look at this handout regarding the benefits of being in nature.
Another great article written by an OT. This discusses the benefits of getting out in nature and playing outdoors.
This article talks more about why getting kids into nature matters.
Back in August I had the opportunity to go to Yogapeutics in Austin, Texas for Aerial Yoga and Mindfulness training. It was three days of yoga and aerial yoga, play, lots of core work and an abundance of information, ideas and knowledge. I got to share three days with a small group of women all eager to learn and share in this experience. There were so many aspects of this course that I cannot wait to implement into class and it would take me days to tell you all about everything I learned.
From the very first time I watched this YouTube Video on what Lindsey was doing at Yogapeutics, I knew we had to try this! After that, things started to fall into place; the space next door opened up and we crossed paths with an experienced aerial yoga teacher who spent years teaching art and was passionate about sharing in the creativity that aerial yoga presents.
Lindsey Lieneck, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist who has integrated her yoga teaching practice and aerial yoga practice into creating an amazing program of aerial yoga and mindfulness. Lucky for us, Lindsey is passionate about sharing her program and training others to share aerial yoga and mindfulness with children all over the world. If you have a few minutes, check out Lindsey's site, Yogapeutics.
Using the hammocks has been one of the most incredible sensory tools out there. Using a sensory integrative approach to therapy, we love suspended equipment. The hammocks provide vestibular and proprioceptive input, facilitate motor planning core and upper body strengthening and provide endless opportunities for play, fun and movement. For more info see this post.
Mindfulness. This is a powerful and important concept for all. We can describe this concept to the kids as paying attention with kindness. Paying attention to ourselves, others and our environment.
The MindUp curriculum was something we explored prior to and during the training. The Hawn Foundation's mission is to "transform children’s lives by providing vital social and emotional learning programs to reduce stress and aggressive behavior, improve focus and academic performance and increase resiliency for success in school and in life". The MindUP curriculum was designed to "teach social and emotional learning skills that link cognitive neuroscience, positive psychology and mindful awareness training utilizing a brain centric approach". It provides a framework for teaching children about their brains and how they work, how we can use strategies based in neuroscience to increase concentration and self regulation.
Lindsey also introduced us to Carol Dweck's work on Mindset. This is a concept we all incorporate into our interventions already but now have the framework and research to enhance and explain it. We provide intervention to children and their families based on the foundation that our skills and abilities can change. Our bodies, minds and brains are capable of growth and change, therefore improving function and participation in daily life. Carol Dweck outlines fixed and growth mindsets, or beliefs about ourselves and our qualities and abilities. "Growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience." When you have 10 minutes, watch her TED talk on the Power of Believing You Can Improve
At Sensational Development we are dedicated to enhancing participation and function in daily life. We promote living a sensory rich life and challenging ourselves to grow and change. Our mindful movement programs are another way we can do just that! We are so excited to get these semesters rolling and see where the children take us as well!