All of the following activities provide a form of sensory input to the child that increases body awareness, regulates the body, and increases attention and focus:
- Allow child 15-30 minutes of gross motor play prior to sitting for seated homework
- For example: play with a weighted ball, lots of push/pull activities to make body “work”
- Quick movement breaks throughout long seated periods of work aid in improving attention
- For example: chair push ups, running in place, jumping jacks
- Sitting on a therapy ball or wiggle disc while working at the table:
- Provides “deep pressure” - provides subtle movement to improve blood flow in the brain and entire body.
- Enables a lower energy child to pay closer attention and supports a high-energy child in getting sensory input to regulate behavior/increase focus while fidgeting quietly.
- Chewing on peppermint gum, drinking water from a straw water bottle
- “Heavy work” for the mouth aids in regulating behavior and increasing focus
- Quiet fidgets:
- Quiet fidgets aid the brain in focusing on the primary task at hand
- Optimal fidgets: any hand-held stretchy or squishy objects: koosh balls, squish balls, Velcro or a car wash mitt fastened under the table.
- Minimize distractions in the environment:
- Decreasing auditory and visual stimulation aids in maintaining calm, focused state.
- For example, it would be harder to work in the kitchen while mom is cooking and people are walking in and out than in a quiet, organized workspace
What are some signs that your child would benefit from a break?
- Wiggly, constantly sliding out of the chair
- Distractingly fidgeting
- Dozing off/falling asleep/daydreaming
- Chews on pencil top, sleeves, any objects nearby
- Frequent refusals, easily frustrated, or difficulty controlling emotions
Have questions? Ask an OT at Jones and they'll be happy to discuss further with you!