Summer Activities for Children to Prevent Skills Lapse
By Sarah Koppenhoefer-Little, OTR/L
Kids Place West Pediatric Occupational Therapist
With summer fast approaching, it is natural for parents to be concerned their child will lose hard-gained skills from the school year. To prevent this, here are fun, creative ideas to slow or stop the loss, but still not feel like work:
Visit the Library. Encourage reading by reading with your children. Kids also gain skills from looking at pictures to identify what is happening in stories, and you can also work on visual perception by having them locate specific items in pictures.
Cook with children. Recipes can be simple, but participating in cooking can improve sequencing skills, safety awareness (not touching hot items), use of utensils, as well as motor coordination and upper body strengthening (pouring and stirring the batter).
Participate in family game nights. There is a wide variety of games available that all work on different skill sets.
Plan activities together. Improve cognition and problem solving by allowing your child to participate in planning of activities. Give them maps, brochures and guides, and see how they use their skills to figure out a plan.
Some additional ideas include:
Participate in painting or coloring activities to work on fine motor skills and coordination required for handwriting.
Play balloon volleyball. This will work on accuracy, visual motor skills, and motor coordination required for many school related activities. Toss a balloon into the air back and forth, but don’t let it touch the ground.
Practice picking up items and placing them into containers with tweezers or tongs to work on motor coordination, hand strengthening, and grasp required for handwriting.
Set up an obstacle course for the kids to maneuver through. (Crawl under table, jump over lines on floor, hop on one foot, circle around trash can, crawl through tunnel, jump rope). This will work on sequencing, safety awareness, and following multi-step directions.
Draw shapes and letters in a variety of textures (shaving cream, pudding, flour, sand). This can be done on a cookie sheet or outside on the sidewalk.
Help kids to complete crafts that involve cutting, pasting, coloring, and accurate placement of pieces to work on bilateral coordination, motor coordination and accuracy, visual motor skills, and correct sequencing of steps.