“Less is more!” We’ve all heard it, but what does it really mean?
When it comes to engaging, connecting, playing with and teaching children, the old saying really is true!
There are an abundance of wonderful toys and resources out there.. and we love many of them! It’s also great to know that some of the more basic things in our lives are the perfect resources for supporting healthy, happy children!
Here are some other examples of resources that are wonderful for your child’s development!
The best therapy resource that you have in your home is YOU! As humans, we have a need to be connected and what better person to connect with than somebody you love! Connecting allows us to share experiences, explore, learn and feel secure, safe and happy.
So, what does this look like? Play and connection come in so many forms. It could be sharing an experience that you both love (like collecting items in nature, crafting, reading or cooking), engaging in play (such as pretend play with dolls, or even playing chase), or sharing stories and songs.
Play could even include what is known as ‘people games’. All you need for these are at least 2 people. It could be something like ‘Peek-A-Boo’, Hide and Seek, chasing, Horsey Rides and even rough and tumble play.
And, if you’re feeling stuck (we all do from time to time), you could follow the lead of your child, or even ask an early educator or therapist for some fun ideas!
Children often love to play by doing the things that they watch the people they love do. So, don’t be afraid to play games with the cups, rolling pins and tongs in your cupboards! If an item is safe for play, a good imagination and motivation to engage is all that you need to turn any ordinary object into a marvelous toy, a wizard’s wand or a telephone!
Bubbles! Where do we begin? Bubbles are an amazing resource to promote
- Speech skills such as requesting and commenting. “More bubbles”, “big bubble” “the bubble popped!”
- Fine motor skills, such as index finger isolation, pointing and reaching
- Creativity (Swat them, stomp them, kick them, poke them, blow them, clap them ….)
- Connection; take turns, play, share stories, imitate one another and just generally enjoy each others’ company.
- Deep breathing; which is great for emotional regulation, and even encouraging toileting
- Cognitive skills, such as counting
Bubbles fit in your pocket, you can buy them from most shops, they’re easy to use, most children (and adults!) love them and you can even make them with dish-soap (here).
As Dr Seuss said “Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” Books are a wonderful resource, whether it be to share stories, hear new words, explore beautiful pictures, match pictures with their names, learn new concepts… the opportunities are endless!
Your therapist can support you with all of the different ways you and your child can share stories together, whether it be to connect, learn, or play.
Visits to the library are not only a wonderful outing, they give you the opportunity to explore new books… at no cost!
Playdough is a wonderful resource that serves so many functions and can be made in as little as 5 minutes! (Find a recipe here).
Not only is it a great opportunity to share a cooking experience with your older children, it’s a taste-safe way to play with younger children too!
Playdough can be used to strengthen growing hands (through pinching, squeezing, rolling and more), to extend our imagination and creativity, to make and execute a plan, to explore our sensory preferences, and to communicate with others.
Why not download some playdough mats to creatively match pictures and play? Or practice using cutlery on some sausages that you roll? Maybe you can make an alien, with lots of parts and comment on all of his special powers and plans to turn all of the trees into jelly? Playdough offers a physical element to play that is only ever limited by our own imagination!
A good team!
Whether it be social groups you are part of, family that you can ask for ‘help’, a kind friend, a good teacher or a passionate therapist, your team is essential! Creating environments in which our children can thrive takes good communication between team members.
After all, as another saying goes “it takes a village……”
Written by Danielle Schembri, Lead Occupational Therapist, & Brianna Schembri, Speech Therapist