Having fun is a great way to learn, because you don’t realize you are learning. As a pediatric OT turned Family Health Consultant, I focus on making children’s experience fun, by engaging them in motivating tasks that aim to provide them with a “just-right” challenge, so that the child has success at skills they may have been reluctant to try in the past.
There is always a purpose for the toy and activity that is chosen. For example,
An obstacle course can work on strengthening, balance, motor planning, following directions, sensory processing and regulation, and/or social skills.
A feeding session may include interacting and having fun with foods, such as kissing food items or playing with foods with their hands to get messy and feel comfortable around foods. Or,
Your child may be asked to pick up small items, using tweezers or tongs, to work on fine motor coordination and grasp fine motor tools for writing and cutting.
Wheelbarrow and animal walks are working on upper extremity and core strength, sensory processing (vestibular and proprioceptive input) and endurance, which are skills required for things like sitting upright at a desk, sitting still during circle time, handwriting, and so much more.
What is a Family Health Consultant?
As a Family Health Consultant, I work with moms, babies, and kids, to facilitate full participation in the day-to-day activities of their lives by helping them accommodate for whatever the current state of their physical, emotional and mental well being may be. This is achieved by increasing function, independence and meaning in people’s lives.
Children’s activities include: reaching developmental milestones, play, self care (eating, sleeping, dressing, grooming, bathing), academic tasks (handwriting, fine motor skills, attention/focus), and socializing.
I can evaluate a child’s strengths, as well as difficulties, in critical developmental areas and design interventions that promote the healthy development of skills needed for success with daily activities. I evaluate the environment, sensory processing, muscle functioning, positioning, coordination, and other areas when determining the cause of decreased skill. Once the cause is identified, I work on these underlying areas of need so that they improve the foundational skills, not just a “splinter” skill or a skill that is beneficial at this time and may not be beneficial in the future.
Having a solid foundation of skills allows for the development of self-confidence. Developing a skill and using it successfully encourages children to continually try new activities that expand their skills and build success, and being successful is the foundation for continued learning. Through meaningful activities and play, I facilitate the development of age-appropriate skills and instills this confidence in children to help them play, learn, and grow. When skill and strength cannot be developed or improved, I can offer creative solutions and alternatives for carrying out daily activities.
I work with babies, young children, and school aged kids, in collaboration with the child’s family, teachers, and other health professionals, in a clinic settings, and within the child’s home or school community, as well as in hospitals as needed. I am also delving into the world of women’s health, with a specific focus on pre/post natal health for moms and moms-to-be.
Why Does It Look Like My Child’s Therapist Is Just Playing?
It is through play that children learn and interact with their environments and make sense of the world around them. Because play is fun and something they often love, it helps them develop motor skills and physical coordination, sensory awareness, cognitive skills, social skills to interact with other children, emotional maturity, self-help skills, and self-confidence to try new experience and explore new environments.
Although it may appear as though your child’s therapy session is all fun and games, and it may not appear as though therapy goals are being addressed, as a trained pediatric therapist and Family Health Consultant, I likely have specific goals in mind.
If you don’t understand the purpose, just ask!