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Daily Activities to Incorporate Occupational Therapy

Time.  Time is something that goes by fast, however we are always yearning for more.  When starting therapy with your child, you are not just devoting yourself to your appointment time weekly but also time spent working on a home program to promote your child’s learning and advance them to their next therapeutic level.  As therapists we strive to make the home program as simple yet as beneficial as possible.  Here are 3 ways to incorporate your occupational therapy home program within activities that are already taking place within the home environment. 

Cooking

Encourage your child to be part of the cooking experience.  This activity encompasses fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, strength, executive function skills, motor coordination, and sensory.  Your child can practice coordination and fine motor skills and strength by pouring, stirring, assisting with cutting, and opening boxes and packages.  Tongs are a favorite for me to use in the kitchen and can be a fun and great way to work on your child’s strength.  Cooking can also be a sensory experience of novel textures and smells and can assist with forming a positive relationship with food.  Executive function skills such as time management, planning/organization, inhibition, adaptability, and self-control can all be targeted.  Your child can help plan out the meal and practice following a recipe, as well as assisting with preparation and clean up of materials. 

Cleaning

There are many benefits of getting your child involved with your cleaning ritual.  For older children, they may be able to sort and put away their clothes, help sort colors for the laundry, and/or help with organization of their rooms.  Motor skills are also addressed during cleaning activities including bilateral coordination and crossing midline when wiping off surfaces, vacuuming, and/or mopping/sweeping.  These activities can also provide heavy work for children to assist with regulation. Vacuuming or carrying/pushing their clothes basket to their room are great heavy work activities.  Cleaning can be made into a race or a game to help with overall motivation.  

Gardening/Yard Work

Gardening can address multiple activities in the realm of occupational therapy.  Gardening can be utilized as a sensory experience including novel textures, smells, and attention. Have your child enjoy sensory play by playing in the dirt or pulling some weeds. Incorporate counting or different positions in order to work on flexibility and body awareness.  It can also address grading pressure. We need to push harder to get a shovel in the dirt vs. planting a flower.  Working in the garden utilizes many muscles working on fine motor strength as well as overall body strength and positioning.  Often we are kneeling when pulling weeds and weight bearing through our hands, strengthening the core and the upper extremities.  Executive function skills can also be integrated into gardening with a great built in reward of seeing your hard work pay off with a beautiful flower or delicious food. 

Incorporating activities that may be in your child’s plan of care does not always require novel activities.  All activities above can be graded up and down to meet the needs of your child.  Please reach out to your child’s occupational therapist for assistance with grading or other ways to incorporate activities within your daily routine.  Finding ways to incorporate your child’s home program into your daily routine can be beneficial and FUN for everyone!

Finnja Farler MS, OTR/L