1. This is a great time to clean out and reduce the number of toys your child has.
Too many toys often overwhelm children, which typically results in limiting their play. Ideally, your child should only have 10-15 times available at any given time. (Blocks count as one toy.) Give away those that your child has outgrown and pack away the rest. Rotate toys every 1-2 months.
2. Meeting your child’s sensory needs during the winter weather:
Sensory seeking child: Take advantage of winter sports – even if you are not in the north, many communities have ice skating available which provides an excellent heavy work (vestibular and proprioceptive) experience; Take a winter walk – make it a scavenger hunt, with a list of items to find. Bring those items home and create a collage or mobile. Add a backpack or pull a wagon to increase the sensory input.
Sensory sensitive child: Honor their need to have a break from the sensory overload of everyday life, with some quiet activities at home. Create an indoor fort that can remain in place for at least a week. Encourage your child to contribute their ideas and assist in construction. Stock with a flashlight, pillows, fidgets. Maybe add audio books.
- Cooking – look for recipes that your child can do simple cutting (maybe with scissors rather than a knife), mixing with hands or spoon, cracking eggs, measuring, etc.
- Create an indoor obstacle course – using cushions, pillows, tables, boxes, chairs, etc. Again encourage your child to contribute their ideas. Depending on your child’s age and abilities, have them draw or write out a plan for the obstacle course.
- Play games together. I love games for many reasons, not the least of which is a fun way to bring family members of varying ages. Games are wonderful for developing motor skills, socialization and language skills, depending on the game chosen. We had fun this year with the game: Obstacles, a cooperative game that requires teamwork, creativity and communication to overcome obstacles and make it home.
3. Planning for 2014: Take a little time to review what has worked for this past year and what hasn’t.
Think about your goals, wishes, dreams for your child in the coming year. Decide a few steps to implement that will help move towards those goals. If you have not set up a notebook for your child to collect evaluations, home programs, school records, etc., do so now as this can be an invaluable tool in successfully meeting your child’s needs.