Life seems to be getting faster, harder, and more complex. Weeks speed by as each day is filled to capacity. Even kindergarten these days is not what it used to be! Every night there’s homework–math, reading and memorizing sight words. Many families have only two hours or so after work to have dinner, spend time together as a family, do homework, bathe and get ready for bed. If your child has special needs, adding therapy “home exercises” can be the last straw!
So what’s a busy family to do?
That’s where OT’s can inspire you:
Make it fun!
When homework and therapeutic exercises are fun, you can expect kids to ask for more! Here are a few ways I’ve found to make our family’s evenings and weekends FUN and FUNctional!
1. Sight Word Boggle Ball
Borrow letter cubes from a game (these are from Boggle) and spread them out on the floor. Place a few sight words on index cards and challenge her to match the cubes to the words while rolling over a large ball. When she’s finished, have her spell and say the word. Don’t be surprised if she wants to do it again!
She’ll not only have fun; she’ll also be strengthening, coordinating and memorizing sight words all at once. She’ll even be converting upper and lower case letters. No need to tell her that part, though!
2. A-Maze-ing Math
In this game, pull problems from the weekly math worksheet and turn them into 3-D experiences. For example, here’s how we transformed the following worksheet into A-Maze-ing Math:
Sample Math Worksheet:
First, we set up this (sample) Maze/Obstacle Course:
We used two dining room chairs covered by tablecloths, a stack of two pillows and the dog’s bed, which served as a receptacle at the other end.
Then we set up the math problem, using items we had at home as manipulatives. Here are examples:
Then the fun began:
So, you get the idea, right?
3. Reading Rest-stop
Do you read in bed, or sitting at a table? Most of us prefer to be comfy to read. Why should it be any different for kids? If your little one finds it hard to sit still for storytime, think about how to increase the comfort level. Many times at school or daycare little listeners must sit criss-cross applesauce on a carpet during story time. I sure wouldn’t be happy there long. Give me something to lean on, a box to sit in, something!!!
You may also want to add some extra excitement, fun and visual attention.
Around here, we snuggle with pillows and blankets for story time. Sometimes we make a tent and bring a flashlight for extra visual interest. When we read aloud, we are sure to add extra emphasis in tone and facial expressions. We also use different voices for each character, bringing the story to life!
With beginning readers, share the reading so your little one can read the words he knows and you can fill in the rest, making the rate fast enough for comprehension. Give him a small stack of sight words he’s learning (ones you already know are in the book you’re reading) and challenge him to find one of those words in the story each time you turn the page. This turns reading into an interactive, fun activity where he can feel his part is important.
We make bi-monthly library trips and are sure to choose some funny books as well as some non-fiction books that coincide with classroom social and science lessons for the month.
How about a fun craft together decorating your library book bag?
Make reading a fun, relaxing and bonding time to share.
Homework and therapeutic exercises don’t have to be a chore on your list, detracting from family time, fun time and rest time. With a little ingenuity and a lot of heart–using things you already have at home–you can make homework, strengthening and learning fun!
Joan Warren, MHS, OTR/L