While living in a small apartment it was often a struggle to find a way to allow our children to have sensory play especially when they were so young and we didn’t have a balcony.
I would set up play inside a blow up swimming pool in the lounge room with towels down on the ground around it. The idea of the pool was that there was an edge to show where the messy play could happen. When things were going to be very messy I would even just set up the play in the bathtub.
Here are some little ideas for the water play:
If your child is hesitant with water play set up the water play table with a very small amount of water that you play with to show hoe it can be used. Then just gently invite your child to watch and join you when they are comfortable.
Use a cup to tip water back and forth you can add food colouring with a dropper to watch it disperse and make this more interesting.
Pour water from a bottle into another container experiment with funnels.
Poke holes in a milk or juice bottle to create a ‘watering can’ and use to shower dolls, toys, toy cars, or even water plants.
Drop food colouring into a clear water container to watch the colour of the water change. Adding an effervescent tablet will cause lots of little bubbles.
Pour water along a path like your drive way with a water can
Use a soup spoon to scour and pour water
Cut a pool noodle in half to make a “river” and pour water along it
Use a spray bottle to spray water – you can add food colouring or liquid paint to make the water coloured. If you add paint you can do “spray painting”.
Use a syringe to draw up the water and squirt onto a target.
Use a dropper to water you magic seeds (these could be beads, seeds, rocks).
Use water pistols to shoot at a target (if you have a child that is keen on shooting things you could shoot down little arm men or less violent they can shoot an actual target image).
Water plants with a watering can (can make one from a plastic milk bottle – put one hold in handle to allow air to enter. Pierce the lid a few times to allow water to come out).
Give a doll a drink.
Bath a doll.
Wash a doll’s hair.
Give a dinosaur or any other plastic toys a drink from a “river” or “pond”
Set up a car wash complete with a sponge and car wash (detergent) to give them a really good clean.
If your child is sensitive to water play I suggest using smaller amounts of water, allow your child to use a tool to handle the water (such as a soup spoon or cup) and gently invite them to play while you are already playing with it. Make it look like it’s the best fun you have ever had to peak their curiosity. As you do everything you explain to them what you are doing, this will help reduce their fear while building your connection and provide opportunities to develop their language skills.
Meeting your child’s sensory needs is like giving your child a cup of water. It is essential to life. Their body relies on it to function. You can wait an hour to drink a cup of water, you can wait 2 hours, you can wait 6 hours. But sooner or later you will get to the point that you will fight for your life to get that water.
Children have sensory needs and they can often wait for an hour, some can wait for 2 hours, some children can even wait for 6 hours but at some point they will start fighting to get what their body needs. If you have ever experienced your child coming home from school exhausted and exploding now that they are in their safe place you will appreciate how their body will fight for an outlet to meet their sensory needs.
It is essential we meet our children’s sensory needs in a safe, appropriate way throughout the day. We can help our children grow to be able to self manage their sensory needs. We can support them by having communication systems that allow them to request their sensory tools, by having adults that understand and can allow them to access what they need and give them time to access their tools.
I challenge you: All children have sensory needs. Each child needs movement, touch, taste, visual, auditory and deep pressure experiences. Some children move away from experiences and seek others. Do you know which sensory tools help your child to remain calm and alert? Can your child request these tools or activities? Do they have safe access to options throughout their day in the different environments they are in? Can they access any sensory tools safely themselves?
Every child is different, if you need some support to meet your child’s sensory needs you can discuss with your occupational therapist
This week in our Learning Support Assistant Online Course we are talking about attention skills. This can be an area of major challenge for many children, particularly children who have been diagnosed with ADHD / ADD.
You have probably heard the acronym “SMART Goals”
When a parent or therapist is creating goals for a child these goals should be child centred and wherever possible the child should be enabled to set their own goals.
In a school context an Individual Education Plans (IEP) is created by a team. In some instances the child will attend the meeting and will be able to contribute to the development of their education goals. Goals should always be meaningful to the child and should make a difference in their lives.
Goals must be functional and they must be measurable. O’Neill and Harris (1982) propose goals should include the following:
Will do what
Under what conditions
Applying this to an IEP:
Who – The student’s name
Will do what – For example will sit on the carpet for 20 minutes during circle time in the classroom.
Under what conditions – Sitting on a move n’ sit cushion, with access to fiddle toy of their choice with Learning Support Assistant (LSA) seated behind the child.
How well – Student will remain seated without verbal prompting in 9/ 10 instances
By When – by the end of the first month (or give dates).
Now we’ve set the goals..
It is very important when considering goals to take into consideration “So What?” What does achieving this goal mean for the child? What will this goal actually enable the child to be able to do? Is achieving this goal actually going to produce any meaningful change anything for the student?
In the above example: Our goal is for the child to be able to use sensory supports to enable them to participate in circle time in the classroom with their peers for 20 minutes at a time. Our “So what?” for this goal: This will enable the child to have access to the curriculum being taught at this time.
This allows the child to be with their peers in class (by reducing distracting behavior, or by reducing running from class or other applicable change).
This allows the child to be more independent by reducing reliance on the LSA to be with their class in a meaningful way.
This actively encourages the LSA to reduce their prompts to the child.
Enabling the student to self select or manage a sensory tool can be included in a separate goal in their IEP if relevant.