by Jodi Gilray-Szostak, PT, DPT, c/NDT, Jodi Gilray Pediatric Therapy
This summer give your kids sensory experiences, new foods, lots of books, some nearby travel and don’t forget to play.
Exposure to different experiences and senses is crucial for your child’s development. For kiddos with sensory processing disorder, take time during the summer to push the comfort boundaries even if it is just a little bit for a short amount of time.
Playing with sand, Play-Doh or in the water are great ways to explore the senses. If you’re open to mess, get the paint out for finger and foot painting fun.
The summer is the perfect time to give your kiddo an opportunity to try new foods and textures. Don’t forget about veggies too; even picky eaters can break some barriers when encouraged. Be sure to add a menu of items for you and your kiddo to try.
If they’re old enough, sit down with them and plan out some yummy meals and restaurants to try.
Do you know what type of books your kid loves to read? Reading books can give your child a boost such as increased concentration, self-esteem and expanded vocabulary. As long as there is no summer reading list, go ahead and give your kiddo the freedom to choose what to read.
I encourage you not to overcomplicate traveling — going to the local park to play in the grass or attending an outdoor movie can be great fun for kids. A short trip out of the house might be just what the soul needs.
Whatever your travel destination this year, just remember to fit it into the schedule and make sure it doesn’t run over your kiddo’s time to get a good night’s rest.
On your summer bucket list always leave room for both indoor and outdoor play to allow for plenty of practice with fine and gross motor skills as well as social interactions, even if it is just within the family.
Choose outdoor and indoor activities that get your kiddo off the couch and away from screens. Although an hour or two for technology play can be OK as long as it’s something your child is interested in.
Keep in mind that unstructured play — free play without rules — can be a good way to reach outside of comfort zones and welcome creativity, curiosity and self-expression.