We're thrilled to announce that they will be offering free Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy screenings for children at their new Pleasanton location. The screenings will take place on March 12th and March 15th from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at 4637 Chabot Drive Suite 106.
Parents who have concerns about their child's language development, fine and gross motor skills, attention span, handwriting, or learning abilities are strongly encouraged to attend these screenings. The assessments provided during the screenings will offer valuable insights into children's development and help identify any potential areas where they may benefit from therapy services.
During the screenings, highly skilled Speech-Language Pathologists will assess speech sounds, pronunciation, language comprehension, and oral motor skills. Additionally, Occupational Therapists will evaluate fine motor skills, upper body strength, visual tracking, hand-eye coordination, and sensory processing.
Founder of Child's Play Therapy Services, Christina Gallo, emphasizes the importance of early intervention in addressing developmental challenges in children. "We're excited to offer these free screenings to help identify any areas where children may benefit from therapy services," says Gallo.
Parents interested in scheduling a screening are encouraged to sign up by calling 925-954-4546 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to limited slots available, early registration is highly recommended to secure a spot for your child.
Register here and don't miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights into your child's development and potential areas for support at no cost.
We are thrilled to announce the upcoming opening of our second location in Pleasanton, CA, at 4637 Chabot Dr #106. This expansion represents an exciting opportunity to reach help families, as we extend our child-centered therapeutic approach to serve the Pleasanton community.
Our core philosophy revolves around creating a nurturing environment grounded in joy, love, and acceptance. Our mission is to empower children to develop essential skills for meaningful relationships and a positive self-image. With this new location, we are eager to bring our specialized services closer to families in Pleasanton.
Our practice offers a comprehensive range of pediatric occupational therapy, speech therapy, and feeding therapy, all delivered through a child-led and highly individualized approach. We prioritize continuous professional development to ensure the highest quality of care and maintain a collaborative spirit to effectively support children and their families.
We firmly believe in the boundless potential of every child to develop sensory motor, language, emotional, and cognitive capacities. By fostering successful relationships and nurturing a positive self-image, we aim to unlock each child's potential and contribute to their holistic well-being.
Founder Christina Gallo, MS, OTR/L, shares her excitement about the expansion, stating, "Our mission is centered around helping children build the skills needed for successful relationships and a positive sense of self. We are thrilled to extend our services to Pleasanton and look forward to contributing to the well-being of the local community."
To schedule a consultation with us, contact our office directly at (925) 954-4546.
The holiday season is a magical time filled with twinkling lights, festive tunes, and joyous gatherings. However, for children with sensory sensitivities, the holiday cheer can become overwhelming. The abundance of lights, loud noises, varied textures, and increased family time can create a challenging environment. At Child's Play Therapy, we understand the unique needs of children with sensory issues and offer valuable tips to help them navigate the holiday season with comfort and ease.
1. Create a Sensory-Friendly Space:
Designate a quiet, comfortable space where your child can retreat when sensory stimuli become overwhelming. Fill this space with familiar objects, calming colors, and soft textures, providing a sanctuary for them to relax and recharge.
2. Manage Lighting and Sounds:
Adjust the intensity of lights and sounds in your home. Consider using soft, ambient lighting rather than bright, flashing decorations. Use noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to help minimize the impact of loud holiday music or sudden bursts of noise.
3. Plan Ahead for Gatherings:
Inform relatives and friends about your child's sensory sensitivities in advance. Suggest alternatives like low-key gatherings or smaller group activities to reduce overwhelming social interactions. Having a schedule or visual cues can help your child understand and prepare for upcoming events.
4. Dress Comfortably:
Choose clothing made from soft, non-irritating fabrics to minimize discomfort. If your child is sensitive to specific textures, let them pick out comfortable outfits for holiday events. This allows them to express their preferences and feel more in control.
5. Incorporate Calming Activities:
Integrate calming activities into holiday traditions. Engage in sensory-friendly crafts, such as making ornaments or sensory bins with tactile materials. These activities can provide a soothing and enjoyable experience for your child.
6. Respect Boundaries:
Encourage family members and friends to respect your child's boundaries. If your child needs a break or expresses discomfort, ensure that others understand and support their need for space and time alone.
If you have questions about supporting your child with sensory sensitivities during the holidays or are seeking additional guidance, reach out to Child's Play Therapy. Our dedicated team is here to provide the support and resources your family needs. Don't hesitate to contact our office for more information or to schedule a free Occupational Therapy (OT) scan to determine if your child could benefit from our services.
The holidays don’t need to be stressful. Let’s work together to create a joyful and inclusive experience for every child, ensuring that the magic of the holidays can be enjoyed by all.
As the winter break approaches, Child's Play Therapy Services is excited to open its doors to a world of enriching activities designed to make the holiday season both fun and educational for children of all ages. Let's delve into the exciting programs awaiting your child during this winter wonderland of learning and play.
Winter Wonderland Play Group (Ages 3-5):
Our Winter Wonderland Play Group is tailor-made for our youngest participants, aged 3 to 5. Immerse your child in activities that foster foundational sensory processing, enhance gross and fine motor skills, nurture language development, and practice crucial social skills such as turn-taking, sharing, and imaginative play. This group offers a magical experience that sets the stage for a lifetime of learning.
Preschool Boost (Ages 3-5):
Ideal for children needing extra support in foundational skills for success in a classroom environment, the Preschool Boost group focuses on pre-printing and printing skills, scissor skills, regulation skills, transition skills, and basic social skills essential for a successful school journey. With a limited capacity of 6 children, this group ensures personalized attention and growth.
Holiday Tweens Life Skills (Ages 9-12):
Tailored to address crucial life skills, our Holiday Tweens Life Skills program is designed for ages 9 to 12. From project planning and crafting/cooking to positive relationships and conflict resolution, this group fosters cooperation, self-regulation, confidence, and essential executive and organizational skills. It's a holistic approach to nurturing well-rounded tweens.
For a concentrated boost of therapeutic support during the break, our Occupational Therapy (OT) Intensives offer individualized sessions over a week or two. These sessions are designed to accelerate progress toward specific developmental or therapeutic goals, providing focused attention and support tailored to your child's unique needs.
Secure Your Spot:
With limited spaces available, we encourage parents to visit our website, explore each program in detail, and sign up in advance to secure their child's spot in these enriching winter break activities. Let's make this winter break a season of growth, learning, and fun at Child's Play Therapy Services!
Self-regulation is the ability to manage and control one's own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It is an essential skill that helps children function well in social, academic, and daily life situations. Children who struggle with self-regulation may have difficulty focusing, controlling impulses, and interacting with others. Fortunately, there are strategies parents can use to help their children develop self-regulation skills.
What is Self-Regulation?
Self-regulation is the ability to manage one's own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in a way that promotes positive outcomes. It involves a range of skills, including:
Emotional regulation: The ability to recognize, understand, and manage one's own emotions.
Behavioral regulation: The ability to control one's actions and behaviors in response to different situations.
Cognitive regulation: The ability to focus attention, plan, and problem-solve.
Why is Self-Regulation Important for Children?
Self-regulation is an essential skill for children to develop, as it helps them:
Succeed academically: Children who have good self-regulation skills are better able to focus and concentrate in school, which can improve their academic performance.
Develop social skills: Children who can regulate their emotions and behaviors are more likely to form positive relationships with others and be successful in social situations.
Manage stress: Children who can regulate their emotions and behaviors are better able to cope with stress and anxiety.
Build resilience: Children who can regulate their emotions and behaviors are better able to bounce back from challenges and setbacks.
Strategies for Helping Children Develop Self-Regulation Skills
Here are some strategies parents can use to help their children develop self-regulation skills:
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Parents can help their children practice mindfulness by encouraging them to focus on their breathing or other sensory experiences, such as the sights and sounds around them.
Provide Opportunities for Physical Activity: Physical activity can help children regulate their emotions and behaviors by providing an outlet for excess energy and helping them relax. Parents can encourage their children to engage in physical activities they enjoy, such as sports, dancing, or yoga.
Teach Coping Strategies: Coping strategies can help children manage their emotions and behaviors in response to stressors. Parents can help their children identify coping strategies that work for them, such as deep breathing, positive self-talk, or taking a break.
Establish Routines: Routines can help children feel more in control of their environment and provide a sense of predictability. Parents can establish consistent routines for activities such as bedtime, homework, and meals.
Set Clear Expectations: Children need clear expectations and boundaries to help them regulate their behavior. Parents can establish clear rules and consequences for behavior, and communicate them clearly to their children.
Use Positive Reinforcement: Positive reinforcement can encourage children to repeat positive behaviors. Parents can praise their children for demonstrating good self-regulation skills, such as managing their emotions or behaviors in challenging situations.
Self-regulation is an essential skill for children to develop, and parents can play a critical role in helping their children develop these skills. By practicing mindfulness, providing opportunities for physical activity, teaching coping strategies, establishing routines, setting clear expectations, and using positive reinforcement, parents can help their children thrive and succeed.
Every child is unique, possessing their own set of strengths, challenges, and developmental trajectories. Some children, however, fall under the neurodiverse spectrum, which encompasses a wide range of neurological differences such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and more. As society progresses, it becomes increasingly important to understand, appreciate, and embrace neurodiversity, creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all children. In this blog, we will explore the concept of neurodiversity in children and highlight the importance of Child's Play Therapy Services PC in promoting their well-being and overall development.
Neurodiversity challenges the conventional notion of "normality" by recognizing that neurological differences are natural variations of the human brain. Each child's neurodiverse condition presents unique characteristics, strengths, and challenges, shaping their perception, behavior, and interactions with the world. It is crucial to approach neurodiversity with empathy, respect, and acceptance, fostering an environment that encourages the flourishing of all children.
Child's Play Therapy Services PC stands as a guiding light in advocating for neurodiverse children, acknowledging their needs and empowering them to reach their full potential. Through a wide range of therapeutic interventions, Child's Play Therapy Services PC offers tailored support that recognizes the individuality of each child, creating a safe and nurturing space for growth and development.
Creating Individualized Therapy Plans:
Child's Play Therapy Services PC recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy. Their skilled therapists work closely with each child and their families to develop individualized therapy plans that address specific strengths, challenges, and goals. By tailoring interventions to the unique needs of neurodiverse children, therapists can promote progress in areas such as communication, social skills, sensory integration, and emotional regulation.
Promoting Sensory Integration:
Many neurodiverse children experience sensory processing differences, where they may be either over- or under-sensitive to sensory stimuli. Child's Play Therapy Services PC utilizes sensory integration techniques to help children develop strategies for processing and responding to sensory information effectively. This approach can enhance their ability to engage with the world, improve attention and focus, and reduce anxiety or sensory overload.
Encouraging Social Skills Development:
Building social skills is essential for the well-being and future success of neurodiverse children. Child's Play Therapy Services PC social skills development through play therapy, group activities, and structured interventions. By creating opportunities for children to engage in meaningful interactions and practice social communication, they can develop self-confidence, empathy, and the ability to establish positive relationships.
Strengthening Emotional Regulation:
Children on the neurodiverse spectrum often struggle with emotional regulation. Child's Play Therapy Services PC equips children with strategies and techniques to identify and manage their emotions effectively. Therapists provide a supportive environment where children can explore their feelings, learn coping mechanisms, and develop resilience, enabling them to navigate emotional challenges with confidence.
Collaborating with Families and Schools:
Child's Play Therapy Services PC recognizes the importance of collaboration between therapists, families, and educators. By fostering open communication and providing resources, strategies, and guidance, they empower parents and schools to support neurodiverse children in their everyday lives. This collaboration ensures that the child receives consistent support and reinforcement across various environments, promoting holistic development.
Neurodiverse children possess immense potential, and by embracing their uniqueness, we can create a world that celebrates diversity and inclusion. Child's Play Therapy Services PC plays a vital role in nurturing the growth and development of neurodiverse children. Through their individualized therapy plans,
focus on sensory integration, social skills development, emotional regulation, and collaborative approach, they empower children to thrive and lead fulfilling lives. By championing neurodiversity, we lay the foundation for a more inclusive society, where every child's unique abilities and talents are cherished and celebrated.
We want to express our gratitude to everyone who joined us for our recent parent educational night in partnership with SEED Lafayette, where we delved into the fascinating world of Gestalt Language Processing (GLP) - Explaining Echolalia.
We're honored that the guest presenter was our very own Jordyn Strombak, M.A., CCC-SLP. Jordan shared a wealth of valuable information, real-life examples, and practical strategies for working with children who experience Gestalt language processing challenges. We're thrilled to announce that we're making Jordyn's full presentation and slide deck available for all to view and learn from.
Check it out today and discover new ways to support your child's language development journey!
Occupational therapy (OT) is a vital component of healthcare for children, as it can help them to develop important skills, overcome challenges, and reach their full potential. In honor of Occupational Therapy Month, let's take a closer look at why OT is so important for kids.
First, it's important to understand what OT is and what it entails. Occupational therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals of all ages perform daily tasks and activities. For children, these tasks may include things like dressing, eating, and playing with toys. Occupational therapists work with children to develop the skills and abilities they need to participate in these activities independently and successfully.
There are many reasons why children may benefit from occupational therapy. Some children have physical disabilities that make it difficult for them to perform certain tasks, while others may have developmental delays or sensory issues that impact their ability to learn and grow. Occupational therapists are trained to evaluate each child's individual needs and create customized treatment plans that address their unique challenges.
One of the most important aspects of occupational therapy for children is that it can help them to develop the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond. For example, occupational therapists can work with children to improve their fine motor skills, which are essential for writing, drawing, and using scissors. They can also help children develop the cognitive skills they need to process information, solve problems, and think critically.
In addition to improving physical and cognitive skills, occupational therapy can also help children to develop important social and emotional skills. For example, children who struggle with anxiety or behavioral issues may benefit from occupational therapy that focuses on mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Occupational therapists can also help children develop social skills like communication, cooperation, and empathy.
Ultimately, occupational therapy can help children to become more independent, confident, and successful in all aspects of their lives. If you have a child who is struggling with physical or developmental challenges, or if you simply want to help your child reach their full potential, consider working with an occupational therapist. With the right guidance and support, your child can develop the skills they need to thrive.
Need more support? Schedule an appointment with our office today!
Lockdowns lasted so long, especially here in San Francisco. It’s been years without normal school routines or regular family outings.
And as everyone digs out from the pandemic experience, parents are beginning to wonder how to get development and education back on track — ASAP.
If you’re concerned as a parent about the long-term impact, that’s justified. Although research is just beginning, we’re already seeing evidence of the impact of these pandemic years on child development. A recent study by McKinsey and Company found that children in K-5 were an average of 5 months behind in academics.
We’re seeing a big push to “catch kids up“ on their education. But as a parent, you need to think beyond just academics.
The truth is, catching kids up means backing up even further to include essential developmental skills that need to be addressed alongside academics.
Development builds on itself. So it’s wrong to assume kids can move forward academically if foundational developmental skills aren’t fully established.
Early development is based on interactions, experiences, and play. Lockdowns during the pandemic meant two things. First, families didn’t have the same access to activities and experiences. Second, all the juggling of work, school, and family life meant parents had less one-on-one time for interactions and play.
As developmental specialists, we know kids missed the practice and experiences that are key for development across the board. We need to make sure we’re adjusting expectations to account for this.
Otherwise, parents, teachers, and students will all grow frustrated when academics continue to be a challenge. Especially for kids who already struggle and feel farther behind peers developmentally during the pandemic.
So today we’re going to share with you some basics of how the pandemic impacted the cognitive, speech, physical, and social-emotional development of kids.
The good news is — kids are wired to learn! By understanding their development, you’ll be better prepared to guide your child through this time of readjustment.
Cognitive Skills That Support Thinking and Learning
From birth through the teenage years, the brain is busy building connections. These connections happen as a result of experiences, interactions, and practice. As connections grow, so does the ability for more complex thinking, language, and problem-solving.
We’re already seeing that children born during the pandemic show delays in verbal and non-verbal cognitive skills. This is attributed to the emotional and situational environment during the early years. Babies just didn’t get the typical variety in experiences for interactions.
And the impact on cognitive skills is seen in older kids too. They have had fewer play opportunities, fewer social interactions, increased stress, disrupted routines, and educational losses due to the pandemic.
This translated to potential difficulty with:
As kids return to school, time needs to be spent introducing or re-introducing routine, organization, following directions and building up attention. Keeping in mind, a variety of fun, engaging activities promote brain development and key connections.
Language Acquisition and Development
Decreased social interactions and mask wear impacted language and communication development in young children.
Speech and language development is important during the early years. This includes understanding words, making sounds (articulation), and expanding the number of words a child is able to use when communicating.
Kids develop essential language skills through interactions with others. The more the better. A consequence of lockdowns is that babies and children missed language-rich experiences with teachers, extended family, and peers.
Additionally, mask wear impacted language development because covering the mouth made it more difficult to hear, read lips, or read facial expressions. While these cues are important for all children, the impact of mask-wear was especially challenging for children with hearing loss, articulation challenges, and auditory processing challenges.
Parents, educators, and healthcare professionals need to be more diligent in screening for speech delays and providing activities that encourage speech development. When in doubt, seek out a speech and language therapist for an in-depth evaluation.
Developing the Strength and Coordination for Learning
It’s easy to forget about the importance of coordination and strength for learning and schoolwork.
Here’s what you need to consider. During the pandemic, kids spent more time in front of screens and less time in full-body play. However play — whether that’s outside, inside, or during PE — is an essential part of development for babies and school-age children.
What does PE and playing outside have to do with learning? Motor skill development impacts a variety of other skills your child needs to learn:
Kids missed the time on the playground to build hand strength by swinging from the monkey bars. And preschool schoolwork was done on a computer instead of holding a crayon.
So now you can’t hand your child a pencil and expect them to write. And you can’t send them to school and expect them to sit at a desk all day. So if your child is struggling with school work, consider how you might incorporate more physical play into their day whether that’s a park or coming up with activities at home.
Social & Emotional Essentials
Out of all the skills, the pandemic especially impacted the social and emotional skill development of children.
In one study looking at parent concerns during the pandemic, parents reported they saw increased tantrums, anxiety, clinginess, boredom, and under-stimulation in their children. With the return to more group activities, therapists and teachers are now seeing the same social and emotional challenges as kids.
Which makes sense.
Social and emotional skills are honed during interactions with others. While parents play a key role in this, peer play is essential for giving kids practice in terms of interacting with others, responding to disappointment, and the give-and-take of relationships.
During the pandemic, children mostly interacted with direct family members. Even attentive parents were faced with extra stress, responsibilities, and scheduling demands. Playdates were suspended and children talked through computer screens. This led to more difficulty using relationships to co-regulate.
Additionally, our brain, through a process called neuroception, takes in cues from the environment to determine if we are safe or if we are in danger. If the brain determines the cues indicate danger, old survival circuits in the brain are activated to ensure quite simply that we survive through fight, flight, freeze, and even feigning death. Have you felt in survival mode for a better part of the last two years?
Since March of 202o our brains have been flooded with cues of danger, which has led to chronic activation of our oldest survival systems. This explains the pervasive self regulation challenges we are seeing in adults and children alike. For some this feels like mobilization where our system is activated into fight and flight responses. This can lead to inattentiveness, irritability, rigidity, difficulty with transitions, and meltdowns. For others, this can lead to shut down responses. This can look like decreased energy, and motivation, disconnection from one's body, a feeling of being slowed down or a feeling of numbness.
As kids return to normal activities, teaching self-regulation and social skills should be a priority. Especially since self-regulation has been identified as a key component of educational success.
Parents can help children with this by providing guided activities to practice self-regulation. Additionally, for those where the old survival circuits seem to be chronically activated, there is a profoundly impactful therapeutic program available, The Safe and Sound Protocol, created by Stephen Porges, MD. This program works directly on supporting emotional regulation, grounding the body for safety, while also decreasing auditory sensitivity. Results from two clinical trials in children with Autism have demonstrated statistically significant improvements in emotional control, behavioral organization, hearing sensitivity and listening.
You can also start resuming playdates and guide your child through steps of self-regulation or what it means to be a good friend. Social interactions can serve the purpose of providing opportunities for co-regulation, and restoring a sense of safety, community and belonging.
These are not skills that happen overnight but take practice for kids to learn. Especially kids who already struggle emotionally or socially.
Making Up for Lost Experiences
We can’t expect kids to just go on as if nothing happened. We’ve got to help them catch up on these foundational skills but without adding unneeded stress or expectations.
While it’s impossible to make up for what’s been missed, the great thing about kids is how much potential they have for learning and growth.
We just need to be aware that they might need extra time to practice to regain skills that might have been put on hold.
And if you’re concerned about your child’s development, get them seen and evaluated earlier rather than later.
Our team of occupational and speech therapists is committed to providing a variety of services to help your child.
We are also providers of the Safe and Sound Protocol.
Christina Gallo, MS, OTR/L
Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Infant Mental Health Specialist
As school gets into gear, the reality of a school year online is really starting to hit. As a parent, you are facing the impossible job of balancing work, home, and education. Not to mention, you might be feeling a little underprepared for this new role based on the simple fact, you most likely don’t have any sort of background in education.
And if your child has learning differences or disability, you count on educational professionals to provide their expert guidance to build skills on a daily basis. Your child might not easily “catch-up” like other kids
Quite honestly, many kids with learning challenges or attention problems can’t simply be set up with a computer and expected to navigate learning independently. There’s more to school than just the lessons from the teachers.
School provides valuable childhood experiences for social interaction, movement, emotional regulation, and daily routine.
But there are many things you CAN do to infuse these missing elements to your child’s at home learning experience. And, if nothing else, this year gives you the unique opportunity to customize elements of your child’s learning experience, taking in account your child specific needs and interests.
And you’re not alone. Don’t forget you still have teachers and staff from school. Count on them to provide guidance for the curriculum.
Your job is to fill in some of the other pieces: emotional regulation, structure, environment, movement, and social opportunities to give your child a great online school experience.
So here are some ideas to get you started. Gather some hints, and adapt for your child.
Use Your Regulation StrategiesThe traditional school day provides a lot of opportunities to practice self-regulation: taking turns, waiting in line, and dealing with frustration. Recognize your child’s need for the practice of self-regulation and look for ways you can provide support.
Some Quick Pointers:
Use regulation strategies for yourself to maintain your own calm. You are taking on a big challenge. You are prone to have some big emotions along the way.
It’s important to remember that by acknowledging your own feelings and experience, you are better able to support your child. So, find ways to take care of yourself. Whether that is going for a walk, doing some yoga, or carving out some alone time.
Create an Environment for LearningNot everyone has the space in their home for a dedicated learning zone. And that’s ok.
But find ways to set up a space for learning whether it's the kitchen table or a desk. Maybe it’s as simple as bringing certain supplies such as a pencil box or computer in a consistent place at the start of learning time.
Try to find ways to limit distractions such as using headphones or making dividers so your child isn’t distracted by other things going on. Provide your child with fidgets that he can use to help him sustain attention, such as gum, a koosh ball, a stress ball, a rubber band.
Did you know that 75% of the brain is water! Give your child a water bottle at the start of the day. Kids need water to think.
And keep in mind, your child needs variety. So think of how you might use your space flexibly to allow for position changes and different views throughout the school day. Maybe your child watches their computer-based lessons at the table and then sits on a bean bag to do their reading.
Visual SchedulesVisual schedules can be a powerful tool to keep everyone on track. They keep focus on the current tasks and show what’s coming next. Consider whether your child more easily understands words or images. Then, use pictures or words to show what needs to be done for the day.
You can get as fancy as a chart purchased from online, pre-printed clip art or as informal as self-drawn pictures on a whiteboard. Then, let your child mark off items as they go through the day.
It’s also helpful to add a visual timer where your child can see how long they are expected to play or work on their own. For younger children, timers with a visual element can help them understand how long something is supposed to last.
For instance, Amazon carries visual timers that look like a kitchen timer but the red indicates how much time is left. The Learning Resource Time tracker offers a timer that goes from green to yellow, to red as time counts down. Even simple sand drop timers can show how much time is left for an activity.
Develop a Healthy Routine
Set up a realistic schedule that everyone can keep. Children do well with predictability but it’s also important to leave some room for flexibility based on emotional needs and the realities of daily life.
Start off the week by spending some time planning.Then you have an overall grasp of what’s going on. From there you will know which tasks NEED to get done and where you can be flexible.
One of the most powerful elements of a healthy schedule is a consistent sleep and wake up time. Set specific times for going to bed, waking up, and starting schoolwork. It might feel hard at the beginning but you will thank yourself later when this foundational schedule makes everything else run more smoothly.
A healthy diet is also important as nutritious food can make a big difference in mood and energy. It's easy to fall into unhealthy eating patterns of snacking or convenience food when everyone is home so much of the time. High carbohydrate meals will lead to an insulin crash, and fatigue. Food dyes are associated with hyperactivity. Try to stick to simple whole foods.
Think of creative ways to include your child in meal planning and meal prep. This will help you get the task completed and encourage some important skills. Cooking is not only an important life skill but also helps with regulation, following directions, math, and science.
Movement Breaks Throughout the DayLittle bodies were made to move, not sit all the time. And when you think about it, movement is actually a big part of a typical school day. Teachers provide movement breaks between lessons, children go to recess, walk to different rooms for lunch or PE, or even walk across the room to get a book.
Movement increases blood flow to the brain, helps improve attention, and decreases stress. So, if you child learns better when they aren’t expected to sit still all the time, this school year provide a great way to allow more movement.
You might find it helpful to structure by planning in movement breaks about every 45 minutes. These could be getting up to clean, adding a stretch, or giving time for a planned movement-based activity. Maybe keep a tally sheet of how many laps your kiddo can do around the house!
Think about how you can add a movement component to whatever you are learning about. If you’re learning about plants, take five minutes and pretend you are a plant growing. If you’re learning about numbers, make a list of movements (jump, flap arms, spin, clap) and roll a dice to find out how many you will do.
And not everything needs to be a big event. You can even lead your child in a quick stretch or brief dance party. Everyone will feel more focused and ready to do the next task after moving around a little bit.
Find Supports Outside the Home
Seek out safe programming that will support your online schooling with your child. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Find things that will lift you up as a parent and will be meaningful for your child. It’s going to be especially important to find safe ways for social interaction or different scenery.
Connect with other parents who are doing the same thing to get support and suggestions. You might even find some great outdoor locations to spend time together.
And don’t forget about the support being offered at Child’s Play Therapy Services for families in the Bay Area. We grasp the importance of providing safe ways to get children the experiences and skill practice they continue to crave.
We are committed to finding ways to support parents in the areas that might be missing with online schooling. From emotional regulation, educational therapy, outdoor groups, and ongoing therapy, we’re here during your journey in online schooling.
Foster a Positive Attitude and Have Some Fun!Online school might not have been your plan for this year, but it can still be a positive experience. Celebrate your child’s wins along the way (and your own). Find your child’s favorite ways to learn and use it a lot!
And most of all, give yourself room to be authentic – honoring the hard parts and cherishing the good. If nothing else, this year is sure to be memorable.
We’d love to stay in touch and continue to provide you with supports during this year.
Sign up for our email list where we will continue to provide parenting tips and ideas focused on supporting parents of children with disabilities and learning differences.
Christina Gallo, MS OTR/L
Child’s Play Therapy Services