Lots of preemies (and lots of other kids too!) qualify to receive therapies through different Early Intervention programs. My little C. currently receives speech and occupational therapy. It is my belief that, while it is an amazing resource to have these trained therapists come into our home, it is not “one hour a week” that is going to help my daughter grow and improve. It is just as essential that I pay attention during these therapy sessions and try to adapt some everyday activities to include appropriate challenges.
I absolutely love to have my children with me in the kitchen. They are my ever-willing and always enthusiastic assistants. It also doesn’t take too much to impress them. And it is in my kitchen that I have found some great ways to work in some “occupational therapy (OT) homework”, if you will.
There are two main things our therapist works on with our daughter: fine motor skills and sensory processing. When my children are with me in the kitchen- particularly when I’m doing something they really can’t help with (e.g. chopping veggies, frying meat, etc.)- here are a couple of great OT-related activities:
Flour is a fabulous sensory material! Little hands can explore, rub, lift to smell, you name it. Note how close that little foot is to the plate. Trust me- it made it into the flour too. Rice, sugar, sprinkles, and oatmeal are easy substitutions. And they all sweep up in a jiffy.
There are innumerable ways to practice OT skills in the kitchen. It keeps my toddlers happy, helps them build skills, and lets me get my kitchen work done. Perfect!