All summer they ran free. They crashed into bed at the end of the day and you felt good knowing that they ran, swam, biked or climbed all day long. They developed valuable physical capabilities and released pent-up energy.
And now school, and the structure of sitting in class. They still enjoyed some sunshine and outdoor time in autumn but the fallen leaves, frigid weather and the time change means that in addition to staying inside during school hours, most kids are going to be staying inside after school as well. Even the weekends now won’t really draw them outdoors.
Potential meltdowns lurk indoors
If kids are getting chaotic or sloth-like indoors, they may be becoming dysregulated. What this could look like is excessive emotional outbursts, an inability to calm themselves down, or a reaction to every seemingly-insignificant noise.
To prevent dysregulation, it helps when a parent or other caring adult helps the child maintain regulation. (This blog post has some great tips).
Restore mental and physical balance
Let’s discuss what you can you do to keep your child balanced in both body and mind. Time to get creative and embark on an indoor movement adventure with your child!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Blanket forts get kids thinking, building, crawling and moving in the horizontal plane. Moving in the horizontal plane aids proper development. It helps with:
- Decreasing rigidity
- Emotional flexibility
So gather up all the blankets and pillows you can find and let them build a fort. Throw some stuffed animals into the pile of supplies and their imaginations will flourish!
Play Doh on the kitchen floor will keep kids laying and moving in that horizontal plane. Kids with decreased core strength often struggle with fine motor skills, and may find the Play Doh easier to manipulate while lying on their belly.
That’s because the body doesn’t need to focus on staying upright, so the hands get the benefit of the body’s full strength and focus. So, let them lay on their bellies while creating! Let’s be realistic – it all ends up on the floor anyway!
Homework with a twist!
Some writing homework can be done while laying on their bellies. Those boring spelling words could be recited while doing jumping jacks, hopping on one foot or circling around the kitchen table on a scooter.
Keep things interesting and keep things moving! It will feel like less of a chore for the both of you.
Cooking and Baking
Cooking and Baking will fill your home with great smells and your child with coordination and confidence! Have you ever mixed a batch of cookie dough until you felt your arm would fall off? That is exercise!
Let the kids help mix, and the dough, and strengthen bilateral coordination (use of both hands) at the same time. Measuring, lifting, pouring, and climbing the step stool in search of the hidden cinnamon are more ways cooking and baking add movement to a sedentary day.
Everyone feels good after making – and eating – a tasty treat!
Paper Cup Bowling
Paper Cup Bowling is for those nights when you wish you had the motivation to take the
whole family to the bowling alley, but the temperatures outside and that howling wind are keeping you in for the evening.
Let the children stack cups in whatever formation they like, and then take turns bowling them down with a tennis ball. They might decide to see if they can bowl them down from across the room, or if they can bowl them down one at a time without letting the others fall.
Or take it from me, they might just end up playing stack the cups and creating castles.They might want to see who can create the highest castle! Mental note: buy paper cups in bulk!
A little movement goes a long way
A little creativity is all it will take to get the kids moving. If you are lucky, maybe they will generate some heat and you can save a few dollars on your heating bill this winter!
What is your family’s favorite way to keep moving indoors during these winter months?
This post was written by Krista Caines, OTAS, a fieldwork student, currently studying at Jefferson University to become an occupational therapy assistant. She spent eight weeks shadowing at The Thrive Group.
Bj ward, PhD says
There are lots of physical types of movements involved in cooking, (especially if you don’t use electrical appliances) as well as lots of use of math concepts. So involve your children in being your assistant cook from an early age., and remember to provide verbal descriptions along with the activity. This helps build the vocabulary that labels concepts that are being built.
Math has it’s own vocabulary, as does cooking, or any activity. Description of the cooking activity, and ending with NOT a question, but a statement that includes a question word.
This approach helps build a good basis for “stated” or “story problems” the child starts to encounter after s/he at school has built a basic ability in simple arithmetic. (example: “Tell me how many forks we will need to set the table when Aunt Suzy and her 2 children eat with us on Sunday.” )
Later the adult can switch this to asking the question. But the question format, more so than the statement format, requires analytical thinking, which develops at an older age.
Miriam Manela says