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Gardening With Children for Skill Development

Gardening Engages All The Senses

Gardening is a great opportunity for sensory-motor exploration for children. The activity supports fine and gross motor muscle development, sequencing, planning, following directions, and sensory stimulation – feeling the dirt, smelling flowers and plants, and tasting fresh fruits and vegetables.

How to Get Started Gardening With Your Child

  • For sequencing, planning, and following directions, break the task into steps for your child.
  • Start with gathering supplies. If able to write, have your child make a list of what will be needed. This can help them stay organized during the task.
  • Once all your supplies are gathered, put items that they can safely lift in a wagon or child-sized wheelbarrow. This will provide your child with heavy muscle work as they lift, push, or pull materials
    • Remember, heavy work can be calming and organizing for our bodies.
  • Prepare for and enjoy the mess

Time for Planting

  • Planting is a wonderful proprioceptive and tactile experience for children with lots of digging and feeling the dirt – and, yes, even wet mud.
  • Have your child start by digging a small hole.
    • If the feeling of dirt is too much for your child, keep a towel nearby to wipe hands-off, have them use a shovel, or wear gloves.
  • Give your child a spoon to dig in the dirt and scoop with to improve utensil use.
  • You can let your child plan small seeds one by one into the soil promoting a pincer grasp using their thumb and index finger.

Remember to Water

  • Watering the plants provides multiple opportunities for strengthening muscles and heavy work. 
    • Have your child lift and carry a watering can or have your child pull out the garden hose and help wind it up when done.
    • Try squeezing a spray bottle to water a plant to strengthen hands and work the same muscles needed for holding a pencil.
  • Your child will also have the opportunity to work on body awareness and force grading – how much do they need to tip the watering can for the water to come out, how far and hard do they need to pull the hose?

Caring for Your New Garden

  • Weeding facilitates dexterity and grip strength.
  • Practice scissor skills by snipping at the grass, weeds, or leaves with age-appropriate scissors.
  • Encourage your child to get down to the ground to garden or practice tall kneeling, half kneeling or squatting, to reach for materials.
  • While admiring their hard work challenger their balance to have them walk on uneven ground or avoid stepping on plants.
  • Make caring for your garden part of your daily routine to help structure the day

Contact the Center For Pediatric Therapy if you are interested in learning additional techniques and methods on how to improve your child’s coordination and more. We provide pediatric therapy services for all age groups in Fairfield, Westport, and Wallingford, CT.

 

Click Here to Download or Print An Easy to Read Version of Gardening for Skill Development

Speech & Language at Mealtime: Preschoolers

Why Practice During Mealtime?

Mealtime is a natural part of the day and a perfect time to practice speech and language skills with your child. Mealtime provides a regular routine which allows for consistent, repetitive, and multiple opportunities for using the same language prompts. Even just picking one meal of the week to focus on speech and language skills is helpful.

Practice While Cooking Together

  • Cooking together provides opportunities to practice motor, cognitive, and speech skills. Narrate each step with simple language.
  • Give your child a job to do, such as putting the plates on the table or finding the requested items in the refrigerator.
    • Start with one step directions and work up to two step directions.
  • Label your actions and the activities with words in order to model vocabulary. For example: mix, stir, bake, fry, sizzle, crumble, half, divide, measure, pour, cut, peel, melt, boil, etc.

Practice While Setting the Table

  • Identify which dishes or utensils are needed. Ask your child to name, locate, and gather all of the items for the table.
  • Count out how many of each item are needed.
  • If working on articulation, be sure to highlight the items which contain the targeted speech sounds.
  • Ask and answer wh- questions, such as “Where do we put the forks?”
  • Encourage the use of prepositional phrases, such as “next to the plate” or “on top of the napkin.”

Take Turns

  • Conversations around the table are a great opportunity to practice speaking and listening. Give your child the opportunity to ask and answer questions, as well as watch and listen to your conversations with others.
  • Demonstrate how to take turns, wait for your turn, and lead the conversation.
    • Ask your child whose turn it is – this prompts the child to use phrases, such as “my turn,” “your turn,” or “mom/dad’s turn.”

Practice Sitting

  • Learning to sit and listen is an important step in communication development.
  • Some children may find it hard to just stop and sit with family, but mealtimes naturally provide the structure for sitting and listening.
  • Other family members can provide a model of appropriate ways to sit. Verbally acknowledge how others are sitting still.
  • Use a timer to help show your child how long they need to sit for the meal. Offer rewards and praise for good sitting and listening.

At CPT, we provide one-on-one therapy services specifically designed to your child’s needs. If your child is a picky eater, has food texture aversion or finds mealtime challenging, we are here to help. To learn more about our therapy options do not hesitate to reach out to our team. Our services are available in the Fairfield, Westport, and Wallingford, CT areas.

Contact the Center For Pediatric Therapy Today.

Click here to download/print:  Speech at Mealtime – Preschoolers