How to Incorporate Occupational Therapy in Your Child’s Daily Routine

by | 6 May 2024 | Blog

Occupational therapy is most effective when a child is able to incorporate it in their daily routine. Through consistent therapeutic approach that occupational therapy provides, it supports children in overcoming developmental, emotional, or physical challenges.

OT skills such as fine motor control, sensory processing, and social interactions, empowers children to navigate their environments more effectively. If you’re a parent whose child is undergoing occupational therapy, here are ways to effectively incorporate OT practices to your child’s daily routine. 

Creating a supportive environment

Creating a supportive environment at home and school is crucial for the success of occupational therapy. At home, designating specific areas that encourage therapeutic activities, such as a quiet corner with cushions for sensory breaks or a low table for crafts and puzzles, can make a significant difference. In school settings, collaborating with school staff to ensure the child has access to adaptive equipment or alternative seating options can aid in maintaining concentration and comfort. Both environments should be consistent and safe, with clear, clutter-free pathways to enhance physical safety and provide predictability, which is especially comforting for children

Family involvement

Family involvement is crucial in occupational therapy for children as it enhances therapy effectiveness across various environments. By maintaining consistent therapy practices at home and school, families help reinforce learning and facilitate skill application. Active participation boosts a child’s motivation and allows for tailored support based on a deeper understanding of therapy goals. Emotional support from family members also boosts the child’s confidence and perseverance through therapy challenges.

Furthermore, families help children generalise skills learned in therapy to daily activities and advocate for their needs in educational and community settings. Providing therapists with feedback about the child’s progress outside therapy sessions helps refine treatment plans. Overall, active family participation not only improves therapeutic outcomes but also strengthens the supportive environment essential for the child’s development.

Goals of occupational therapy

Occupational therapy (OT) offers a wide range of benefits that address various developmental aspects in children. Here’s Some ways OT helps in these areas:

Cognitive development

OT assists children in enhancing cognitive skills such as attention, memory, and problem-solving. Therapists use specific activities that encourage children to think critically and execute complex sequences, which are vital for academic achievement and daily decision-making.

Motor skills

This therapy plays a crucial role in developing both gross and fine motor skills. For fine motor skills, OT helps children improve hand-eye coordination, which is essential for tasks like writing, buttoning, and using utensils. Gross motor skills, which involve larger movements of the arms, legs, and feet, are also refined through activities that promote balance and coordination.

Sensory integration

Many children struggle with sensory processing issues, finding it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses. Occupational therapists use various techniques and tools to help children manage sensory overload and enhance their ability to process sensory information more effectively.

Emotional and social skills

OT provides strategies to help children manage their emotions and behaviours in socially acceptable ways. This includes learning how to read social cues, understanding how to interact with peers, and developing empathy. These skills are essential for building relationships and functioning well in group settings. Also explore how speech therapy can help with your child’s social skills as well.

Self-care and daily living skills

Occupational therapy assists children in mastering essential self-care tasks such as dressing, eating, and personal hygiene. These skills are critical for fostering independence and self-esteem. 

Academic skills

Beyond the physical, OT can address difficulties in handwriting, organisation, and time management. Therapists work with children to develop these skills, making their academic experience more successful and less stressful.

Incorporating occupational therapy to your child’s daily routine

Incorporating occupational therapy into a child’s daily routine can be an effective way to enhance their development. Here are several practical examples of how parents and caregivers can integrate occupational therapy strategies into everyday activities:

Morning routine:

Dressing: Encourage your child to dress themselves to develop fine motor skills and decision-making. Use clothes with different types of fasteners (buttons, zippers, snaps) to practise dexterity.

Brushing teeth: Use a timer to make brushing a fun challenge that enhances their ability to follow sequences and routines.

Mealtime:

Setting the table: Assign your child the task of setting the table. Handling utensils and plates can improve their hand-eye coordination and organisational skills.

Cooking together: Simple tasks like stirring, pouring, or measuring ingredients can help improve motor control and following directions.

School Activities:

Organising school supplies: Teach your child to organise their backpack or desk, which helps with planning and prioritising—a key executive function skill.

Homework time: Create a structured environment for homework that minimises distractions. Use tools like weighted pencils or ergonomic chairs to aid focus and physical stability.

Playtime:

Puzzles and building blocks: These toys help with problem-solving, motor skills, and spatial awareness.

Arts and crafts: Activities like cutting, glueing, and drawing are excellent for fine motor skills and creativity.

Outdoor activities:

Gardening: Digging, planting, and watering can improve sensory integration and teach responsibility.

Playground time: Climbing, swinging, and sliding are not only fun but also great for gross motor skills and overcoming sensory challenges.

Evening routine:

Bath time: Use bath time for sensory play with different textures like foam, water, and bath toys to enhance tactile sensations.

Story time: While reading a story, ask your child to turn the pages to practise fine motor skills or discuss the story to boost comprehension and inferential skills.

By integrating these occupational therapy concepts into a child’s daily life, parents can help their children develop important skills in a natural, supportive environment. This consistent practice not only reinforces therapeutic goals but also integrates skill development smoothly into the child’s day-to-day life.

Tips and tricks

Here are some additional tips for parents to make occupational therapy more effective for their child:

  • Routine reinforcement: Incorporate therapeutic exercises into daily routines to reinforce the skills being learned.
  • Playful learning: Make therapy fun by using games and creative activities that incorporate therapeutic goals, which can keep your child interested and engaged.
  • Set realistic goals: Work with your child’s therapist to set achievable goals that encourage progress without causing frustration.
  • Celebrate successes: Acknowledge and celebrate your child’s successes, no matter how small, to boost their morale and motivation.
  • Stay informed: Educate yourself about occupational therapy techniques and stay updated with new strategies to be more effectively involved.
  • Patience and consistency: Understand that progress can be slow and that consistent effort is key to achieving long-term results.

Engaging professionals

Occupational therapists are trained to help children enhance their ability to perform daily activities, thereby improving their quality of life.

Schedule an initial consultation with our team at Kaleidoscope to evaluate the therapist to discuss their therapeutic approach.

The first step in an initial consultation is that our Care team understands your concerns and your child’s needs.

We then match your child with an appropriate therapist who works to understand in detail how therapy can benefit the child and provides a written summary to parents. Along with this, we develop a personalised therapy plan and recommend the frequency of therapy to parents.

Once you’re happy with our plan our therapist conducts sessions with the child together with the caregiver for maximum empowerment and training. Regular updates are provided on the child’s progress together with home strategies after each session. This helps you keep a close eye and play your role in the progress of your child.

Conclusion

Integrating occupational therapy into your child’s routine is a team effort that benefits significantly from family involvement. By consistently incorporating therapeutic activities, setting achievable goals, and celebrating progress, parents can greatly enhance the therapy’s effectiveness. Remember, patience and persistence are crucial. Keep supporting your child with encouragement and stay engaged with their therapy process. Your efforts are essential for their success and development.

Frequently asked questions

What are some common OT exercises I can start with at home?

Simple exercises like stacking blocks, stringing beads, or playing with playdough can enhance fine motor skills. For sensory integration, consider activities like playing with sand or using tactile toys.

How do I know if the OT techniques are working?

Observe your child’s progress in daily activities. Improvements in performing tasks that previously posed challenges or increased independence are good indicators. Regular feedback from the occupational therapist about specific milestones and outcomes can also guide you.

What should I do if my child resists the OT activities?

Try to understand the reasons behind the resistance, whether it’s difficulty, frustration, or lack of interest. Discuss these challenges with the therapist to adjust the activities or approach. Sometimes, just changing the routine or making the activities more game-like can help increase engagement.

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