April is National Occupational Therapy Month and we’re celebrating by providing fun and therapeutic activities for your little one. It’s our belief that children of all abilities, including those with special health care needs, thrive when their physical, social and educational needs are met. This month, we want to encourage parents to join in on the developmental journey and create memories together. Whether a newborn or kindergartener, here are five interactive activities to help your child develop everyday skills.
12 months >
It’s never too early to start working on motor and simple language skills. Take some time to sit with your child and a bin full of blocks or toys of different shapes, sizes and colors. As they play and explore with the blocks, ask them to hand you a few. Playing with objects that grab their attention helps develop your child’s creativity and fine motor skills. Additionally, asking them to share toys improves language recognition.
12 – 24 months
It’s important to start working on everyday tasks early. During playtime, ask your child simple questions to help with recognition and memorization of different body parts. Have your little one point to their eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Once they can locate these features on their own face, ask them to point out the same features on your face. Building their vocabulary and recognition of common features such as body parts prepares your child for other occupational and speech language milestones related to everyday life.
2 years – 3 years
This is a great age to start fostering a love for arts and crafts while building up fine motor skills. Gather different art supplies such as paint, crayons, glue sticks or construction paper shapes to provide a variety of activity choices. Help your young artist with more detailed crafts that build their dexterity and coordination, such as stringing beads for a necklace or drawing shapes and have them color in the lines. This is also a great chance to have your child explore their creative side and describe to you what they’re creating as they work.
3 years – 4 years
At this age, puzzles are a fun way to develop shape recognition abilities. Completing a puzzle together helps your child learn collaboration with others and how to work to achieve a goal. As you assemble the puzzle, ask them what pieces should go where, what part of the image is still missing and where different pieces are in relation to each other. These simple questions develop early problem-solving skills and make for great conversation with your little one.
4 years – 5 years
This is the age where play becomes more about communicating with others. Take this time to teach your child the beloved classic sidewalk game: Hopscotch. Have them draw their own Hopscotch pattern on a paved surface with chalk and get hopping! Being outside creates the opportunity for your little one to socialize with those passing by and become friendly with your neighbors, with parent supervision of course. This is an active way to develop not only language skills but an awareness of their community.
These fun and simple activities can work wonders for the development of everyday motor skills. Our in-home occupational therapists work to build these same motor skills with your children during their visits. We encourage you to play and learn together in order to achieve the best results from pediatric occupational therapy.
Below, we’ve provided a link to a list of easy-to-track milestones that will help you recognize your child’s progress during their early developmental journey. For more information on MGA Homecare’s pediatric therapy services, visit our pediatric therapy page.