Through games, sports, and play, students can continuously develop their motor skills to help make them more successful both inside and outside the classroom. Use these related tips to boost your OT regime.
Without a stable core, children may struggle to sit still at a desk or to carry out fine motor tasks. Use these exercises to strengthen trunk muscles:
- Snake Curls. This is an adaptation of tummy curls. Have a child lie on their back on the floor with their knees bent and the feet flat on the ground. Put a bean bag between their knees to keep them together and have them rest their hands on their thighs. Then, have them “curl up” by raising their head, and slide their hands up to their knees. They should hold this position until you signal them to slowly relax back down. Emphasize slow movements versus fast, jerky ones.
- Tightrope Walker. Stretch a five to ten-foot length of rope in a line on the floor. Have a student walk along it while balancing a bean bag on their head. Encourage them to walk slowly; this requires more control. If they lose their balance, show them where their tummy muscles are and remind them to pull them in while they walk.
- Crab Walk. This can be demanding, so start out slowly, having children crab walk two to three feet, and then build up from there. You can also include crab walking as part of an obstacle course or a game of Follow the Leader. You may have to demonstrate first. With a bean bag on their tummy, have a child crab walk backward. Their goal is not to let the bag drop.
Also known as bilateral integration, this is the ability to use both sides of the body together in a coordinated way. To help students with poor bilateral skills, try these tips:
- Use gross motor activities. These include jumping, skipping, bike riding, catching a ball, and beating a drum.
- Hone fine motor skills. Have students lace shoes and tie the laces, thread beads, button and unbutton, cut with scissors, and draw lines with rulers.
- Set up Ball in a Net. Suspend a ball in a net, from a horizontal pole or hook in a doorway. Use the kinds of nets that fruits and vegetables come in. Put the ball in the net and knot it into a length of rope. Have children practice pushing and catching the ball with both hands. The rope must be long enough so the ball is level with a child’s chest.
- Try these additional activities. Additional ideas for improving bilateral coordination include pulling hand over hand on a rope, playing with a Slinky, and rolling smooth balls out of play dough.
There are myriad other activities for improving motor skills that are easy and help make children feel comfortable and included in school day tasks. For additional resources and to keep your OT career on the right growth track, contact the experienced team at Cobb Pediatric Therapy today.