Occupational therapy is designed to help people overcome setbacks related to poor motor skills. These setbacks may make it difficult for children to perform well in school, and occupational therapy can work on skills children need, such as writing and typing or tying their shoes.
Occupational therapy focuses on fine and gross motor skills and motor planning, and it can also help children who struggle with sensory processing and self-regulation.
During the school year, children get plenty of fine motor practice, but this practice can decrease during the holidays. The good news is, there are plenty of ways you can engage your child in occupational therapy skills during the holiday break.
1. Cooking and baking
The holidays are all about food and family, and there’s no better way to spend time with your family than while you’re making food. Measuring, mixing, and pouring ingredients requires a mix of fine and gross motor skills, and it’s the perfect time for your child the practice. It’s important to be patient with them as they work on honing these skills. So, it may be beneficial to start with something small such as making hot chocolate and moving up to baking cakes or helping with Christmas dinner as your child’s motor skills improve.
2. Wrapping presents
An ongoing holiday project is the act of wrapping presents. Instead of putting the burden of wrapping presents on one person, consider making it a family affair. Wrapping presents includes the use of scissors, tape, and fine motor planning. It also requires patience and self-regulation, so it is one of the best holiday projects your child can engage in.
3. Playing in the snow
If the weather is nice, don’t hesitate to spend some time outside. There are plenty of ways you can practice fine motor skills outside, whether you are in an area that snows or an area that doesn’t. If you are in a place where it doesn’t snow, consider collecting nature items and turning them into a collage or a tabletop sensory table. If you are in a location that snows, consider making snowballs and throwing them at targets. Both of these activities are great for hand-eye coordination, and they’re a good way to get your child outside for a couple of hours every day.
4. Writing Christmas cards
Finally, have your child practice their handwriting skills by writing Christmas cards and a letter to Santa. Children can practice their creativity and their handwriting by decorating the letters in different styles. The best part about this practice is it is another one that your child can do consistently. Writing holiday cards for the whole family, addressing envelopes, and eventually stamping them and sticking them in the mailbox engages a wide variety of occupational skills.
Practicing occupational therapy skills doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it can be included in your child’s everyday life. Rather than sitting them down with a set of workbooks, you can incorporate occupational therapy practice into the holiday festivities. Allow your child to work in the kitchen with you, help wrap presents, and even play in the snow.
The holiday season is also a good time to consider online occupational therapy with a certified counselor. Programs like Connect Teletherapy can connect you with a virtual therapist, so your child can practice their skills without even leaving their home.